KOCHI: Mammootty’s hit movie Big B, which was released in 2007, still has a strong fan following with the numbers increasing all the more with the announcement of its sequel Bilal. Fans are eagerly awaiting this Amal Neerad movie. Among the various props in the film that caught the fancy of the moviegoers, the house in which Bilal and his brothers stayed was the prime one.
The 16th-century Vasco House, which is located in Fort Kochi, was the main location of the film Big B. With its European glass paned windows, balcony and other features that showcase the colonial era architecture, the house has been a favourite location among the filmmakers in Kochi. After the success of the film, the house came to be known as Big B house among not only the local residents but also the tourists.
The Big B house is not the lone location where films have been shot. There a few other houses in and around the city which have made it to not only the silver screen but also the mini-screens.
One such house is the Paramada House in Vazhakkala. It has been a location for many movies and television serials. The house where films including Ivar Vivahitharayaal, Theevram and Happy Husbands were shot, is presently the location for the popular television serial Uppum Mulakum. The long lawn, verandahs and the spacious interior makes it a favourite location for the film crew.
Nandu Poduval, a production controller, said a house is zeroed in as the location for a film after taking into consideration various factors. “Story, characters and the budget are the main criteria involved in selecting a location. Posh houses come at high rates compared to others,” he said. Nandu said the rates have increased over the years.
“For example, the Kalappurackal house where movie Lelam was shot was rented for Rs 2,000 in those days. However, today it commands Rs25,000 as rent,” he said.
Nandu said, “The art directors nearly always change the interior design of the house as per the needs of the storyline of the movie.” According to him, the same house might be used for different purposes in different films. “It doesn’t get featured as a home nearly everytime,” he added.
Sabu Varghese, a senior art director, said innumerable films have been shot at the Netto Bungalow in Edakochi. “A few of them are Christian Brothers, Ayalum Njanum Thammil, CID Moosa and Thanthonni. In each film, the location had been converted into whatever the script demanded.
It can be shown as a tharavadu, a government office, or quarters,” he said. Pointing out that in some cases only a small portion of the house is used, Sabu said, “In such cases, the interior is not changed. However, it is to be featured in more than eight scenes then the interiors are changed as per the needs of the story.
He said even after changes are made the viewers might easily identify the location if the place gets used multiple times. “Let’s take the case of Hill View House in Kakkanad. The movie Kabooliwala was shot at this house and soon after became a sought-after spot. Many films including Lelam were shot at the house. However, currently, it is being rented by those who produce serials because the location became over utilised by the filmmakers,” Sabu added.
Feasible rent, ample space to accommodate around 150 crew members and technical products are also factors that are looked into while selecting a location, he added. Kurians House at Chembumukku is another prime film location in the city. The recent hit Masterpiece was shot there and currently, shooting for upcoming film Aravindhante Athithikal is progressing at the location.
Shaji Kurien, owner of the house said for the past 10 years his house has been used for shooting films. “It has appeared in more than 200 movies.” He said the rent is calculated on a per day basis but if the location is needed only for limited hours, the amount differs.
“Short films were also shot at my house. For students, we give a discount. The location is also used for shooting various advertisements and the interior is changed by art directors as per the script,” he said.
Kurien’s property includes a traditional tharavadu, a contemporary style house and a huge mansion.
Other locations like Bastion Bungalow, Aspin Wall in Fort Kochi and Kalikotta Palace in Tripunithura have also been seen in many movies.
Many times these locations are simultaneously used by the crew of different films. For example How Old are You and Mr Fraud were shot at the same time in Aspin Wall. With more and more filmmakers opting for places in the city as their prime locations, it is evident Kochi has become a face of Malayalam cinema.