Shoranur on the banks of Bharathpuzha river in Kerala's Palakkad district is a place where fine arts is a way of life for almost every household with Kerala Kalamandalam situated there. Bharavi and his unit found it an ideal location to picturise the major scenes involving Sankaracharya's parental home, his birth (Baby Vamsi acted as Bala Sankara) and the subsequent events in his life.

On a sunny afternoon, Bharavi was filming the death scene of Sankara's (played by Kaushik Babu) mother Aryamba ( Rohini). As promised to his mother, Sankara returns to his village to perform her last rites. The village elders object to this as a sanyasi is barred from performing such rituals.

Unmindful, Sankara goes ahead. He dismantles part of the house made mostly of wood and uses it as firewood to cremate his mother in front of his home. P.H.K. Das shot this scene under the supervision of executive director Udaya Bhaskar, as Kaushik who is by now famous for his portrayal of Lord Ayyappa on the telly carry his role with grace and poise.

Director's cut: Director Bharavi informs, “The interior scenes were shot in a similar set created at Ramoji Film City earlier. These are the exterior scenes. Adi Sankaracharya was the first sanyasi to perform such last rites. It took three years for me to complete the script. It should be an authentic version. So I showed it to the Sankaracharyas of Sringeri, Pushpagiri, Hampi and Badari and to Visakha Saradananda swamiji and Kakinada Paripoornanda Swamiji and received their blessings. In a way this film is a multi starrer — Nagababu is cast as Rudraksha Swamy who took care of Sankara's mother during his absence. Anand plays Sivaguru, the father of Sankara. Srihari will join the third schedule playing a key role as Parakaya Sadhu along with Suman (Naga Sadhu) and Saikumar (Sri Chakra swamy). Jayaprada and Roja make special appearances and there are a host of other popular actors who will take part in cameos. Of the 16 songs tuned by flautist turned music director Nag Srivatsa, we retained ten from Sankara's verses. There is about an hour of CG effects that are part of theme and are done at Prime Focus.”

On what inspired a movie on Adi Sankara's life, the director says, “Adi Sankara lived only for 32 years. But his achievements are amazing. He travelled four times from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to propagate Advaita. He wrote many books that are inspiring and impart knowledge. For the present generation, his life and works was a window to personality development. Keeping this in view, I wrote the script and hence the sub-title — ‘A film for the youth'.”

Keywords: Tollywood