Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I was in Trivandrum to make a film. I did not know anything about film making, I was a poet, I knew how to write and recite. I was also a risk taker, an entrepreneur of a kind, or why should I be there for making the film? Or, and I think this could be the real reason, maybe it was just that I had always wanted to go to Kerala and my desire was finally taking shape. It was materializing, but in a totally different way from what I had envisaged. I had always thought I would holiday in Kerala with my family when my children were young. The desire to see Kerala had been fuelled a long time ago by my next- door neighbour. She was from Kerala. My children had breakfast every Sunday morning at her home. Her dishes were delicious and I learnt a lot from her, like not wasting anything. When she transferred rice from one dish to the other, not a grain of rice was left behind. I stopped being so careless about food after watching her. But what I learnt more from her was of Kerala, which till then had been just a part of the nebulous, hazy South for me. I had never gone beyond Hyderabad. Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are poles apart in more ways than one, and Hyderabad cannot be really considered as geographically ‘South’ as Trivandrum.
As the years passed and the children grew into teenagers, I began to believe that I would never get to see God’s Own Country, despite my fervent wish to do so. But as they say, “there is delay in God’s house, not darkness”. And, “when He gives, He breaks rooftops”. So finally, many years later, I was whisked away to Trivandrum not to holiday but to make a film there.
This experience was a mixed blessing. It was raining every time we tried to shoot the film. I realized the degree of hard work the making of a film requires. It meant crew, co-ordination, timing, jugaad panaa by the minute. Each day cost money in terms of camera, crew and actors. The weather and luck play a big part in the whole thing if you are shooting outside like we were. I realized that making a movie is not a cakewalk because everyone and everything has to work for each of those perfect shots that seem to flow so easy on the screen. The high-voltage tension involved has to be experienced to be realized.
I learnt a lot in Trivandrum during the process of film making. Of how a fire is lit for a film and kept going on the beach despite rain. How you can be blessed by a sudden shot of crows flying low, which when filmed there and then, add to the film’s depth.
With all this, I experienced the sheer beauty of Nature with all its bounty. The grey beaches, the deep blue waters, the dark green coconut trees, the sweet yellow bananas, Nature just gave of itself freely and willingly. The film could not have been made anywhere else but here, against this backdrop of lyrical natural bounty.
Trivandrum is different in so many ways from Delhi, the city where I live. In Delhi, we get the beginning nips of cold in October. In Trivandrum, it is humid, and it rains, even in October. Yet it is a part of India, and beautiful in so many ways.