Shooting in an old run-down godown in Chennai for Vidhi Madhi Ultaa turned out to be more trying than Janani Iyer expected it would be. The three-night shoot was scheduled every night till dawn in a godown near Ambattur. Her co-stars included Rameez Raja, Daniel Balaji and Karunakaran. The scenes demanded that Janani get chased, and then trip and fall behind some machinery. The director explained the timing and location of the fall she had to take, but as luck would have it, Janani missed the timing by a split second. It meant that her foot got caught in a pile of tyres, resulting in her collapsing on the dusty floor.
“It all happened so suddenly! My reflex action was to break the fall with my hand. So my hand and elbow bore the brunt of the fall. There was also a searing pain in my knee which started bleeding. My salwar tore. I was crying in pain. The director stopped the shoot immediately,” she recalls.
She got an hour-long dinner break to recover. But little did she know that her ordeal wasn’t over yet. The scene hadn’t been shot as planned; so she had to return to complete the scene, which meant falling again. The fall and the consequent pain were still fresh in her memory. “It took all my mental strength to run and fall again as required, but thankfully, without hurting myself this time.”
Falling headlong on the floor also meant inhaling all the dust off the dirty floor. “I have dust allergy and that night’s shoot set it off again. My nose turned red and I started sneezing every time any one ran and the dust got unsettled. The shoot was halted several times because of my sneezing.”
Shooting in such a vast, open area also resulted in other problems -- swarms of mosquitoes, for instance. Janani and her co-stars, who sat in the open between shots, were easy targets. Armed with tubes of mosquito-repellent cream, Janani had figured she would be safe. But it didn’t help.
The mosquitoes followed them indoors too. A serious action sequence turned inadvertently funny as the actors kept scratching themselves and clapping their hands to kill the mosquitoes while they were shooting. Needless to say, there were several retakes. “It took all of my resolve to return to the same shooting spot to go back to that location and finish my scenes,” says Janani, who doesn’t look forward to returning to that mosquito-infested dust bowl.