As the shooting of Dulquer Salmaan’s film, Sita Ramam, nears completion, the film’s director shares his experience of the work.
The love-war drama features Dulquer in the role of lieutenant. “War is just an element woven into the film; it is predominantly a love story between Sita (played by Mrunal Thakur) and Ramam (played by Dulquer),” says Hanu, adding that it is a one-of-a-kind love tale, “a refreshing take on love, with the addition of gripping elements.”
Describing Dulquer as a ‘director’s delight’, he says the actor is very creative. Dulquer shed a few kilos to look the part, says Hanu, but over and above that, “The amount of hard work he has put in for the role is unreal,” the director states. One of the toughest shooting schedules in Sita Ramam, says Hanu, was the one shot at Kaza Spiti Valley (at an altitude of 12,500 ft) in Himachal Pradesh for two weeks in peak-winter.
“The temperatures were spine-chilling,” he reveals. Since there were no hotels in Kaza Spiti, the unit was put up in a hotel in Chandigarh, and travel to and from the location took 16 hours a day, on a narrow stretch of road. “The Manali-Kaza route was unfortunately closed down due to heavy snowfall, — it would have saved us around 10 hrs of travel time,” he rues.
“The location was like heaven on earth, but the journey was incredibly taxing,” he says, adding, “The terrain may look beautiful but the ghat roads are extremely dangerous, even the slightest fumble can cost you your life.”
“As much as the unit enjoyed working in the breath-taking locations, shooting at minus 24 degrees temperature was most difficult,” he says. “It was windy too; so you can imagine what it was like. Some of the crew initially suffered from altitude problems but later they got acclimatised.”
“Travelling for such long hours daily on such difficult terrain took a toll on us physically. And the actors had to get into their characters as soon as they reached the location, putting all difficulties out of their minds,” he notes.
“We also shot at Hikki, the world’s highest post office. The whole unit was excited to see the place. The local people were warm and welcoming. We even got the opportunity to binge on some local cuisine and experience a new culture,” says the director.