During a location search for Pattanathil Sundaran (2003), director Vipin Mohan and scriptwriter M. Sindhuraj arrived at a house, in Ottapallam, where the hero, Kizhakkethil Sundaresan (Dileep), a grocery store owner, was supposed to stay.
“There was a high gate and it looked locked,” says Sindhuraj. “So, we decided to climb over it. After much effort, we reached the top, but, suddenly, the gate swung open. That was when we realised it had been unlocked all along.”Both Vipin and Sindhuraj had a good laugh.Sindhuraj also had a good laugh during the shoot of the film, Pullippulikalum Aattinkuttiyum (2013). Set in Kuttanad, a boatman, played by an actor called Sabu, was trying to get close to a widow, Kainagiri Revamma (Bindu Panicker). So, one day he stepped into the house, but as soon as Revamma saw him, she chased him away by swinging a sickle.“Sabu jumped into the water,” says Sindhuraj. “But when he surfaced, we got a shock. He was bald. That was because his wig had come undone.”
The crew members made a frantic search but could not locate it. So, Sindhuraj quickly inserted a line in the script and Revamma says, contemptuously, “He set out with a wig on his head.”
A few years earlier, Sindhuraj decided to stay at the Peermade Government Guest House to write the script of what later became Jalolsavam (2004). But the moment, he entered the room, he felt uneasy.
“I did not know the reason why,” he says. “So I asked a staffer, Mani (named changed), to spend the night in the same room as me. The next day, after breakfast, I left.”
Three months later, Sindhuraj met Mani by accident at Alleppey. “Mani told me that soon after I had left, they discovered a huge snake just above the bathroom door in my room,” says Sindhuraj. “In the end, the employees killed it.”
But, during the shoot, of the 2013 film, Pullippulikalum Aattinkuttiyume, at Alleppey’s Punnamada, a snake was left undisturbed. There was a scene when Kunchako Boban and Namitha Pramod arrived in a speedboat, jumped into the water, waded ashore and lay on the bank.
However, when the shot was being taken, on the bank, the crew noticed a snake on a branch right above the duo. “Everybody kept quiet, because they did not want to frighten Kunchako and Namitha,” says Sindhuraj. “But we kept a sharp eye on the snake through the monitor. Thankfully, it did not move at all. It was only when everything was over that we told them about the snake.”
Meanwhile, at this moment, the shooting is going on for Sindhuraj’s latest script, Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumpol. Directed by Jibu Jacob, and slated for a Christmas release, it stars Mohanlal and Meena.
Recently, a scene was set at a bus terminus in Kozhikode. But when Mohanlal arrived, hundreds of people gathered around, there was a traffic jam, and it became difficult to shoot the scene. “So the location was shifted to Thamarassery,” says Sindhuraj. “The cameras were kept hidden. Then Mohanlal was brought in a car. He got out and started walking. Before the people could realise that it was indeed the superstar, the shot was canned, Mohanlal got into the car and vanished.”
However, at an outdoor shoot, at Narkhanda, near Shimla, Mohanlal did not do the vanishing act. Again, there was a large crowd present. “I was surprised to note that they were all non-Malayali fans from North India and abroad, waiting patiently for a photo with the star,” he says. “That was when I understood the extent of Mohanlal’s popularity.”