Dileep plays an animal trainer in director Rafi’s new film Ring Master.

The cynosure of all eyes on the set is a dog, which is standing, teeth bared, in front of a blue screen, in a corner of the room of an elegant house at Thiruvaniyoor in Kochi. Each time he gets a signal from his trainer he growls menacingly. The camera captures his every move. It is the location of writer and director Rafi’s Ring Master, in which Dileep will be seen as an animal trainer.

“Prince (Dileep) is the son of a ringmaster in a circus. After the use of wild animals was banned in circuses, the family finds the going tough. Prince was never too keen about animals. But, as fate would have it, he becomes a supplier of pets for movies. Eventually, his attitude towards the animals under his care changes and he starts loving them,” says Rafi, who was until now part of the Rafi-Mecartin duo of blockbusters of the likes of Thenkasippatanam, Punjabi House, and Puthukkottayile Puthumanavalan.

The director adds that prior to the shoot, they had done a lot of research on animal behaviour. The dogs being used in the film have been undergoing training under experts.

“We have also got the required permission, as there are regulations to adhere to while portraying animals on screen. In fact, the portion that we are shooting now is to create a computer graphics sequence for the film. The real action with the dogs will only be captured in the coming weeks,” says Rafi.

In the scene being shot, Prince has come to the house to train the dogs there. He is feeling a bit depressed and he finds comfort in the affection of the dogs.

“All I would like to reveal now is that this story is about Prince and Diana,” says Dileep, with his trademark chuckle. “I am quite fond of dogs. Or else it would have been tough to handle them. We are dealing with several kinds of dogs in the film. There’s even a song sequence where the dogs dance with me. Prince is a friendly guy who has gone through some bitter experiences in his life,” adds the actor.

Incidentally, Prince’s pet dog in the film is a Golden Retriever named Diana. The heroine, a film star, played by Honey Rose, is also named Diana.

The next scene has Dileep walking along the side of the swimming pool, deep in conversation with Dr. Muthu, a veterinary doctor, played by Kalabhavan Shajon.

“Frankly, I’m a bit scared of dogs. I barely made it through a sequence with a dog in Sringaravelan and I hope things will be fine here too,” says Shajon, who is sporting a long moustache for his role.

Keerthy Suresh, who made her debut in Priyadarshan’s Geethanjali, is playing a visually-challenged young girl who walks with the help of a guide dog.

Ring Master is being produced under the banner of Vyshakha Films and will hit the screens during Vishu next year. Shaji is the cinematographer and Gopi Sundar is the music director.

Stills are by Jayaprakash Payyannur.

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