There is rain, there is poetry and a lot of hard work on the sets of 'Pranayam', Blessy's latest film which is being shot at Fort Kochi
An inspired director, Blessy sat pensive on the lawns of the Cochin Club, the set of his latest film, ‘Pranayam'. The gathering dark clouds, a strong purposeful wind, sporadic drops of rain were drawing him back to the film sets of his guru, Padmarajan. Though it was still early in the dayhe said that the weather had been stirring him up, since morning, like never before. “The mood would find its way into the film”.
Pranayam, love, the most sublime emotion, has found treatment in myriad forms by directors. Here it is once again in the hands of this master craftsman. What is his take, is the question.
Nobody on the sets is even ready to give away an iota of the love story. ‘Different', ‘amazing', ‘absolutely novel' are just some of the views you gather from the crew around. So you approach Blessy himself. “Love is the ultimate emotion,” he says and goes into raptures about the different kinds. “The sea loves the sand… the butterfly the flower…even the fallen jasmine imparts fragrance to the rock…these are all forms of love…” You get first hand feel of the Padmarajan effect on Blessy.
“Love is beyond sex and gender….you will just have to wait and see,” says the poetic director with a smile.
With superstar Mohanlal, veteran actor Anupam Kher and evergreen Jaya Prada in the lead roles one presumably deduces that it's a triangular love tale, ménage de trios? “No, it's different, it's a surprise” is what you get for an answer. So you let the suspense remain and go around the sets trying to fit the jigsaw.
Meeting the stars
By the time the rain has set in strongly. On the set, it is beginning to trickle into the tastefully done bedroom of Mohanlal and Jaya, so there's a delay. Work is on while stars chat and the crew waits patiently. A round of tea-coffee goes by. Nobody seems distressed too much, for rain is an important element for the mood of the story. Jaya Prada mixes around casually and cools off by pressing her face close to the air cooler. The two stars share laughs together. Jaya tells you about her co-star Mohanlal, that he is very jovial. “He makes every one at ease on the set”.
The shot begins and the ailing husband (Mohanlal) is wheeled to his bed. Jaya creeps up to her husband, placing her head on his bosom and breaks into sobs. Mohanlal seems distant. Blessy asks for the camera to roll in slowly, adding more poignancy to the scene. There is something more than grief there, you sense…...
The unit breaks for lunch, inviting you to join in but we get luckier and are invited by the superstar for an interview in his fancy blue van. Mohanlal steals our hearts and is extremely cordial. We are treated to the song that he has sung in the film-Leonard Cohen's ‘I am Your Man…”
‘I am your man' or should we say he is the man, for as we step outside ‘Lal sir' is greeted by fans. A Mohanlal fan club from Chalakkudy has been waiting since morning. They approach him with ladoos and we all get to savour the sweetness offered by this group of young men. Their icon is gracious and chats with them before he moves on to the set.
Meanwhile Kaushal Choudhary, Jaya Prada's man Friday is busy. Ask him about his madam coping with such hard work . He smiles and says, she is both ‘film star and a politician' you see,”
We wait for the other big star to arrive – Anupam Kher. ‘Will you have some tea?' he asks, taking one by surprise. “There's no hurry. We can chat at leisure.” He is informal and easy-going. His shot is of a hospital room. Jaya Prada is drenched as she has saved her husband from drowning. “I have saved him…” she says referring to, you gather, Mohanlal. Then who is Achut Menon, aka Anupam Kher? Her husband? Lover? The story gets complex. “Anoop Menon is such a fine actor. He is my son in the story,” informs Anupam. Apurva Bose is his daughter and Kher's granddaughter. No, the jigsaw still does not seem to fit. You come across a cenotaph at the set which reads about one Gracy Mathew. You wonder if that is Jaya Prada?
The set props are done aesthetically by art director Prashanth Madhav. A sinister, weather- beaten graveyard with moss-ridden gravestones stand afar under the old rain tree. An arched walkway with creepers is another installation. A column rises on the beach walkway and the pier is converted into a wooden one with lamp posts.
The tasteful wardrobe of the characters is handled by Sameera Sanish. Satish Kurup handles the camera. The script is Blessy's and the lyrics are by ONV. The music is by M. Jayachandran and songs are sung by Shreya Ghoshal, Unni Menon and Vijay Yesudas. The film is slated for an Onam release.
Before you leave you make one last attempt at finding out this love mystery. So you make pointed enquiries to Anupam Kher's majordomo. Who is the husband? Is he the ex-flame? Does she have two lovers? All he says with a knowing grin, trained as they are from the industry is “Madam yeh pyaar ka chakkar hai…. It is a riddle of love. The end is too good.”
And the suspense continues…