KOCHI: Different types of locations, facilities for post production and necessary infrastructure are cited as the major reasons why Kochi has become the hub of Malayalam cinema industry.
From most preferred locations like Fort Kochi and Mattancherry to FACT at Ambalamugal, Eloor, Aspinwall, empty godowns for indoor sets- you name it, Kochi has it all! This is the reason why Kochi has elbowed out Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, once the favourite centres of filmmakers.
However, the recent incident in which an actor was harassed inside a moving car provided by the production team has cast a shadow over the image of Kochi as the safest shooting location. “Of course, Kochi has another face and we are forced to tolerate it in order to shoot our films here.
For instance, if you want to shoot a movie without any interruption in Mattancherry and Fort Kochi areas, you will have to ensure the support of the local gang.
The production managers meet up with the leader and hand over an amount (average minimum of Rs 20,000) cited by him. Even the police know of these deals. If we give them the amount in advance, they will ensure that the shooting goes on without any incident,” said a production controller anonymously.
However, the rate shoots up for film crew from other states. It can go up to Rs 2 lakh. “They know that Bollywood movies are big budget ones. Hence the escalated rates,” he added.
The Weed Culture
The goon culture in Malayalam cinema is also an after effect of the increasing number of cannabis consumers. According to insiders, the ‘weed culture’ is growing fast in Malayalam moviedom. “Today we have a post called ‘joint assistant director’.
A joint assistant director is the one who deals with the ‘joints’, and rolls the ‘stuff’ for the director and other technicians. Even some actors are addicted to weed,” said a production controller who did not want his name to be quoted.
The support of the local gang is necessary to ensure timely supply of the ‘stuff’, he added. “Of course, a production controller is the backbone of the movie since he is responsible for the entire man management including food, accommodation, ticketing and even remuneration.
But chances are high that outsiders sneak in citing ‘connection’ to actors, producers or technicians. So a collective effort is needed to prevent people from outside getting involved in movie production activities,” he added.
All the production controllers, whom Team Kochi Express has interacted with, reiterated the necessity of allowing only those who are members of FEFKA Union to work in the film.
“We are not denying anyone the chance to work and earn. There are 18 unions under FEFKA of which production boys to directors are members. Since all these members know each other, the risk factor is less if we entrust such persons to transport actors or technicians.
But as per the existing agreement with FEFKA, the producer can use three vehicles directly for transportation. It is not necessary that the drivers of these vehicles are the union members,” added the production controller.
He also expressed optimism that the culprits behind the recent assault on actor will be nabbed. “We do not think that Kochi will turn into a notorious location in wake of this incident. Irrespective of some drawbacks, there are multifarious factors which add to Kochi’s advantage as a movie hub.
Majority of actors and technicians, including superstars have a home here. If the shoot is in Kochi,they prefer to stay at their homes which helps the producer to cut cost. Kochi also has a wide variety of hotels. The proximity of the city to the airport the other highlights,” he added.