Tuesday, August 10, 2010

T’wood’s spooky tryst with spirits

The sudden demise of an apparently healthy, 66-year-old production-house driver has given the industry the jitters. The film unit, currently working on Chandramukhi-II starring Venkatesh, are aware the driver had a heart attack but can’t shake an ominous feeling of déjà vu. South India’s biggest actress, Soundarya died just a month before Aapta Mitra, the Kannada version of Chandramukhi was released. Soon after, Kannada star, Vishnu Vardhan, who played the lead in its sequel, Aapta Rakshaka died of a heart attack after narrowly escaping a major accident during the shoot. Word on the sets is that the spirit of Nagavalli (Chandramukhi in Telugu) is hovering around the crew.

“There is a fear among people from the crew but they are putting up a brave face,” confirms a source from the film crew. Meanwhile, the Chinese whispers get more frantic — there were stories of Vimalaraman, who acted in Aapta Rakshaka, seeing a shadow in her hotel room during the shoot and falling ill. There are also reports of youngsters dancing to the Chandra-mukhi song Ra ra and falling into a trance.

Tamil superstar, Rajinikanth, was spooked enough by these rumours to refuse to do the sequel despite playing the lead in Chandramukhi. Sources confirm that Rajinikanth went as far as to have Mruthyinjaya Homam performed in Mysore and other places to counter the Chandramukhi spirit affect.

Following Rajini’s refusal, Venkatesh decided to step in and will work alongside actors Anushka Shetty, Poonam Kaur, Kamilini Mukherjee and Richa Gangopadhyay. Though rationalists are pooh-poohing this as a publicity stunt, in a superstitious industry which prefers a good muhurtham release over a Friday one, there’s no curbing the gossip though producers are trying to fire-fight absolute untruths about filming having been stalled. The film is on schedule, 70 per cent done and ready for a year-end release says Bellamkoda Suresh, “Venkatesh finished his part, we have one more song to shoot and we will be done with the movie. The rumours that we have stopped shooting are baseless.”

Actress Poonam Kaur seconds her producer and requests plain common sense, “Nothing happened to the actors of the film’s originial version Manichitra Thaazu and Bhool Bhulaiyya in Hindi. Is the Chandramukhi spirit only angry with Kannada and Telugu versions?”

Despite rumours and rebuttals, there’s no doubt that the movie has high expectations already thanks to the ‘spirits’ that keep the buzz going!