Thursday, July 30, 2009

Film-making: The madness : LOCATION

LOCATION - A department very close to my heart 'coz that's where and how I started my career in films - hunting for the best suited locations the script demanded.

Slumdog millionaire, Satya, Maqbool, A Wednesday are few of the films shot extensively in Mumbai and around. It's a great thrill when you watch the film and identify the locations. Slumdog millionaire is one film I would have loved to be on location. The slums, the railway stations, Chawls, old bungalows ... would have been quite a challenge matching and getting permissions for locations as per the script.

In films, once the script is ready, the location manager is the first guy to be summoned to identify, shoot pictures of the locations in the script. The location manager does an exhaustive search, uses his/her contacts to get all the locales that match the director's vision and comes back to the director with his pictures. The director does his shortlist, joins the location manager along with his team and cinematographer for a reccee` and post his approval necessary permissions and payments are done.

Ad films are equally challenging. My friend and I once went hunting for a lonely tree all the way till Karjat for an adfilm. A hunt for a housing society with lots of space and narrow roads landed me at Dahisar's Dahiwali society. Where will you find a sea-facing apartment with lots of artefacts? Ask me. But you will get an eccentric Parsi couple free, along with the location. Theek hai? Want a sea facing terrace? Gujju family + loads of veggie thaali food free!

It is indeed a tough job to get the location the director has in mind. The director would want an old bhoot bungalow bang in the middle of the main road with a side lane next to the bungalow... with one tea shop on the lane, a small room outside the bungalow and so on. And the location guy's job doesn't stop with taking permissions and making payments. Arrangements for parking generator vehicles, makeup vans and cars and permissions to park them if they need parked in the middle of the road need to be taken. Then comes permissions from neighbours and their dogs. The cinematographer, right in the middle of his shot may want the light at a distance of 1 km in someone's house to be switched off. The location manager has to RUN ,convince, beg and plead with the neighbours to switch off the light.

Oh yes, how can I forget location owners' eccentricities? If you are shooting at a particular location for the first time, you are bound to face a whole lot of problems. The owners don't understand, don't know anything about film shoots. Can’t blame them really 'coz no one tells them that a shoot involves a bare minimum of 50 people at any point at the location, paan chewing-spitting production guys, caterers who lack the basic civic sense using your place like a dump yard for their paper cups and Bisleri bottles and annoying location managers who apologize to you time and again for the mess.

But ofcourse there are regular bungalows and shooting locales that you will find in every other film. S S Vasan [Gemini] house in Mylapore was a regular shooting place till it was replaced by this building, a few years ago.

There was an article in the Mid day on Sunday [Jul 26 '09- can't find link] about Mumbai locations in films. It recalled all major scenes shot in the Mumbai background of CST, Bandstand and the famous Marine Drive.

Want to rewind and go back and see how Madras looked? Watch this clip. I am sure the location manager didn't shell out a penny to shoot at any of these locales. These days, the under-the-table monies to the Police guys, Corporation officials is more than the cost of hiring the location.

Express estate and Binny mills are the most sought after locations in Madras for songs and fights. Athiradee from Sivaji was shot in Binny mills. Alaipayuthey, Bombay were shot in Express estates. Besant Nagar beach was an eternal 'lauvv point' or 'chase-fight location' in films from the 90s. Maniratnam loves Chalakkudi falls. Check out the collage from his songs that were shot in Chalakkudi falls in Kerala.



And guess who or which film made this location famous before it started becoming a Maniratnam regular? 1....2.....3... juuuummmmppppp!


A few films shot at Hampi - Guru, Padaiyappa and Iruvar



Tirumalai nayakkar mahal, Madurai - In Bombay, Guru and Iruvar



Like I said earlier, its a major thrill for me to spot locations from different films and say "Isn't it this familiar?" or "Weren't these two films shot at the same locations?" like this one....The picture on top is from a film released in 1980 and the one at the bottom is from a '97 film.


Meendum kokila and Iruvar [2:17 onwards] were shot at the same location. Does anyone know where this bungalow is?


The next time you watch a tamizh film, look closer. It just might have been shot in your neighbourhood.

Other film-making links from the blog - Click here and here

21 Responses:

Karthick Krishna CS said...

//A few films shot at Hampi//
Its not hampi... hampi is in karnataka too but the place's name is thirunarayanapuram aka melkote... near mandya in (karnataka)....

and some scenes in "a wednesday" seems lik green matte shots...

mekie said...

Interesting trivia! As Karthick pointed out, it's Melkote. 'Veerapandi Kottayile' from Thiruda Thiruda and 'Raakamma' from Thalapathi were also shot there, I believe. A Maniratnam favorite again.

buddy said...

amazing post.
amazinger job.

Prakash said...

anEgama, pOna jenmathula neenga en sahodari :)

brilliant. as always

Revs said...

Dheiyvamae! How can YOU alone do this?!! Whattey observation! And that Iruvar house is where my fav 'Unnodu naan irundha ovoru manithuliyum' was shot illa?

Blogeswari said...

Thanks KK CS and Mekie - Melkote it is. Have been there on a location hunt for this particular ad which was ultimately shot at Rama'Sholay'nagaram

Thanks buddy.

Yes Prakash. Like I mentioned
here I miss working on films /ads. Inda madiri interesting departments la enakku oru adeeda interest

Revs - Yes it is - 'unnodu naan irunda' scene daan

ramchandran said...

Excellent article...very informative..Its an interesting job to find suitable locations..I met Kamal for the first time in S.S.Vasan.Bunglow during the shoot of Kalaigyan..(pls dont mind me mentioning this).....Ram

Lavs said...

I too look out for similarities in film locations..ni fact, its a mini competition between hubby and myself...whoever identifies the place gets a brownie...interesting post.
My friend used to work with Deutsche bank in Fort and there is a building in which most films are shot..the white bungalow with spiral staircase inside..i think bits of Anjaam were shot there!

Lavs said...

Forgot to add this...there is this famous chettinad house which is used in many films-tamil serial chiti was shot there, hindi film hulchul, songs from many tamil films have been picturised here.

Also the beach is common in many KB films-Duet, Sindhu Bairavi etc

nimbupani said...

I love Mani Ratnam's locations! I sooo want to know which apartment Anjali was shot in. It was a lovely apartment!

Prakash said...

@nimbupani : it was an apartment set erected by thotta tharani :)

Aparna said...

Location-hunting! Wouldn't that have been an interesting job? I have always enjoyed trying to identify locations in films too :)

Anonymous said...

how abt prakashraj's house in 'abhiyum naanum', its the same one as in 'idayathai thirudathey' heroine's home rite? what u say?

Archana said...

amazing post!! definitely one of your best so far!! thoroughly enjoyed it. it definitely is amazing to see your "ordinary" neighbourhood turn ultra glam in movies.

Mambalam Mani said...

Awesome. Many times, while we easily trash a movie we tend to forget the technical finesse hidden in the movie due to a faulty direction or screenplay. Location selection is one such I believe.

Sowmya said...

Lovely post..Meendum kokila house is at pudupet street alandur chennai..i grew up at the same street..never noticed it in iruvar;)..thanks

Rajesh said...

One more: Gautham Menon too likes to repeat his spots.

The first fight in Vetayadu vilayadu (raghavan entry scene): Is a car shed/house/ lot/empty space...

The same empty spot was used in PKMC where the auto guy tres to take away jo and then.. they escape and come to this empty parking lot...

This parking lot is at the intersection of lloyds rd and ttk rd. right next to AMbal hospital. I live(lived) next doors.

veebha said...

Where was "sindhu Bhiravi" beach locations scenes shot, (temple near the beach)

Viknesh said...

It was a nice article indeed especially that melkote one..! can anyone plz tel me where the song "PUTHAM PUTHU BHOOMI" from the movie "THIRUDA THIRUDA" shot???

BenIvy said...

Try filmapia (www.filmapia.com). It has got shooting locations of movies. You can also add some, if it is not already in the website.

BenIvy said...

Try filmapia (www.filmapia.com) for shooting locations of movies. It is an interesting website with pictures. You can also add to the information if it is not already there in the website.

That place in Melkote is called Rayagopura (4 pillars which is a Mani Ratnam favourite)