He dived from a 90-ft cliff into water, stood under a waterfall for two hours, braved snakes and leeches in Kerala’s forests — Abhishek Bachchan says shooting for Raavan was emotionally and physically challenging for him.
The actor revealed that he decided to jump from the scary heights despite a “no” from director Mani Ratnam. “I did jump. There was a professional diver to train me how to do it,” Abhishek, who has teamed up with wife Aishwarya Rai in the movie, told IANS in an interview.
“When we went up there, it was 90 feet or something. So the insurance people said that we can’t allow him to do it. You can’t put your lead actor’s life at risk,” he said.
“Mani said “no,” I am not going to risk my actor jumping off that (cliff). Actually, the current of that river is very intense. There are rocks at the bottom.
“In the meantime, a five-year-old boy came and dived into the water. We were shooting it at Hogenakkal (waterfall on the Cauvery River), where these local kids jump off for money. So five-six people jumped at the end of the day and finally the shot was taken,” he said.
“This is the most challenging film I have ever done in my life. I haven’t done such a physically and emotionally challenging film in my life. And it’s not about going to tough locations or tough scenes. The film drains you and you feel so good when you go home at night because you feel that you have done something. Getting a movie like Raavan is so rare. You don’t get such a role today,” Abhishek said.
Ratnam’s Raavan is said to be a modern interpretation of the epic Ramayana. It also stars southern superstar Vikram, who plays a cop married to Aishwarya.
The director simultaneously shot Raavan in Tamil and Hindi at various locations, including the Athirapally forests in Kerala, Ooty in Tamil Nadu, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, and the Malshej Ghats in Maharashtra. The film has lots of action scenes and stunts performed by the actors.
Ratnam completed the film despite health problems.
“Once you work with him, you will be in awe of him because of the talent he brings to the table. The minute he says cut, he turns into a dear friend. He is someone very close to me. I really feel a strong bond with him. But in front of the camera, you don’t have to work to give him the respect – it just comes… He is truly just the best,” said Abhishek. It was Ratnam who gave Abhishek his first hit in Yuva and they later worked together in Guru.
Talking about his character, Abhishek said, “Beera is the most fun character I have played. Fun because when we work on a character, we draw an outline and then fill in the blanks. But Beera is so unpredictable that you can get away with everything. Mani said do whatever you have done. Make it a convincing performance.”
“I believe if you can look the character, 50 percent of your job done. I think when you get the body language correct; half of your work is done. And if you have understood the body language, your dialogues after that would just come.”
“Mani Ratnam loves shooting on real locations to extract the best from his actors,” said Abhishek.
“On the first day, he puts us under the waterfall for two hours and, trusts me, you are in character. Mani loves to shoot at location. You will think, ‘where have we come?’ The jungles of Kerala, the snakes and leeches… then you realize that he puts you into the situation where in a day or two you start reacting instinctively as your character would react because you are actually facing that. You don’t need to act that much, you are just reacting naturally. So when you go to locations like that, it brings out the character automatically,” he said.