Dileep Menon, who makes his directorial debut with Aana Alaralodalaral, says what worried him the most before he began shooting was the protagonist. And, in this case, it isn't Vineeth Sreenivasan that hassled him, but the real hero, an elephant. Says Dileep: "We wanted an elephant who could 'act'. Because it is the hero who narrates the story. Like any other protagonist, he too undergoes myriad emotions, like revenge and heartbreak. And, our hunt for a mild-mannered elephant ended with Nandilath Arjunan, who wowed us with his on-screen presence."
Soon Arjunan was brought to the location, but the cast, including Vineeth Sreenivasan and Anu Sithara, needed some time with the animal to get acquainted before they could approach it during the shoot.
"I was really tensed. We have had elephants in many movies before, but Aana Alaralodalaral was different.
Here, the elephant had a lot of 'acting' to do. He was a permanent fixture. So, Vineeth and Anu decided to come to the location a few days earlier, so that they could get acquainted with the animal. To our surprise, Arjunan warmed up to people around him very quickly and it won't be an exaggeration to say that he is a great actor," laughs Dileep.
Nandilath Arjunan's onscreen name is Shekharan Kutty. The director also remembers how Visakh Nair, who plays a mahout, trained with real-life mahouts to get a hang of the trade. "Such was his expertise that Visakh could easily handle the animal.
He was giving instructions and the animal obeyed him. We really didn't need Nandilath Arjunan's mahouts around when Visakh was there," he adds. Aana Alaralodalaral unravels in a rustic hamlet by the name of Vaikundapuram. Vineeth plays Hashim Jamaludheen, a young villager. The movie will release during Christmas.