Ramya Nambeesan was excited at the prospect of shooting in Sikkim for a song in Plan Panni Pannanum. But the three-day shoot atop a mountain peak in December, during the height of winter, turned out to be more than she could handle. The unit hands lugged up minimal equipment to the location. Filming was scheduled to start at 7 am. “I was wearing a tight-fitting gown for the song, leaving no room for thermal wear. As our vehicle reached the shooting spot and I opened the door, a rush of cold air hit me so hard, I banged the door shut. It was freezing cold. The temperature was minus seven degrees! Both Rio Raj and I looked at each other in utter dismay and wondered how we were going to shoot there,” says Ramya.
Somehow, picking up courage, they began shooting the romantic number. It was then that her ordeal began. “For some full-length shots, I had to remove my warm socks, slip into open sandals, and run on a frozen lake’s iced surface. The bitter wind left us shivering and it was near impossible to dance on the ice and give romantic looks to each other.”The actors did not have caravans at that altitude, so for costume changes, they asked permission to use a few nearby homes. The bathroom pipes were frozen and flushing toilets was near impossible due to the ice.
Between shots, the crew offered her hot noodle soup and hot coffee. “But within seconds it would all turn cold, giving us absolutely no warmth,” says Ramya. For respite from the biting cold, director Badri would usher them into the waiting cars and turn on the heaters. “Each time I had to leave the warm car interiors, I was literally in tears! I only managed to complete that shoot thanks to our very understanding director and the excellent local crew who understood our plight and were very helpful.”
The experience has led to a decision on her part. “In the past, I have even shot on the snowy high altitudes of the Swiss Alps with ease. But that was years ago. I think I have become unaccustomed to such weather conditions now. Besides, the locals also revealed that the winter was unusually cold last year.” She also added that the song has come out well. “Thanks to Sikkhim’s picturesque, breathtaking locales, which was some consolation. However, in the future, I will think twice before agreeing to shoots in such freezing locations!”