'God gave them handicap, I gave my actors confidence'
Category : Entertainment on December 10, 2007
Kerala filmmaker P. Vinayan's 2005 blockbuster "Albhutha Dweep" (Wonder Island) has earned not only a Guinness Book entry but also enriched the lives of many of its physically disadvantaged actors.
The 350 actors in the movie, including the male lead Ajayan, are all dwarfs - ranging between 2.5 ft and 3.5
ft in height, Vinayan told IANS over phone from Thiruvananthapuram.
"God gave them a handicap, I tried to give them confidence in life. My humble efforts have borne some results," Vinayan said.
Vinayan said he first got the idea of making the movie when he worked as an engineer with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). At the time, he even enacted a prominent role in a Malayalam movie, "Meenamasathile Surivan" (1985).
"In my office, we had a colleague who was a dwarf, his wife was also short in stature. I was always amazed at how the couple lived their lives, happy and contented, always going out of the way to be kind and helpful to others. The first outline of my future movie was etched from the real-life role of my colleague and his family," Vinayan remarked.
He chucked acting and followed his heart's calling - direction. He got a break as a director for "Superstar", which became a super-hit. Vinayan had arrived in the southern Indian film industry with a bang.
Then came movies like "Vaasanthiym, Lakshmiyum Pinne Niyum", "Karumadikuttan", and "Ooma Pennudu Uriyadappavana". The common thread running through most of his movies is the highlighting of some form of physical, mental, psychological handicap, and most of the movies are scripted by Vinayan himself.
"Many people who are blessed with a short stature, or dwarfs, are looked down upon by society. They have to suffer and struggle a lot in life. Even if they are capable in all respects, they are not considered for many things that normal people would take for granted," Vinayan explained.
The Kochi Municipal Corporation had scheduled a civic reception for Vinayan and Ajayan for their record feat Monday. The Guinness World Records book for 2008 with the entry for "Albhuta Dweep" was released a couple of days ago.
The film managed to practically change Kerala society's perceptions towards dwarfs. With considerable efforts, Vinayan got a record 350 dwarfs from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for the movie.
The movie was shot on a small river island in Palakkad and some scenes were shot in Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. Since some of them had medical problems, a four-member team of doctors was permanently stationed on the sets to handle emergencies.
In the past two years since the release and roaring success of the movie, 28 eligible dwarfs, including Ajayan, have been happily married to normal, tall girls! Vinayan was present at each of these weddings held in different parts of south India to bless the couples.
The movie also helped many of the dwarfs in their career in the glamour world. Several of them have been flooded with acting offers and many filmmakers are rewriting their scripts to include dwarfs as their main characters.
Vinayan is now in the process of finalising the story of his movie's success on a wider scale - a remake in Hindi and a Hollywood version.
"For both these versions, I plan to have the same team of my dwarf actors, but for the half-dozen odd tall actors, I shall get Bollywood or Hollywood stars," he said.
The movie's theme, inspired by the classic "Gulliver's Travels", has apparently mesmerised many in Bollywood and Hollywood.
It is about an island hidden from the rest of the world where the men are dwarfs while the women are normal beauties owing to a curse. One day, a helicopter carrying six naval officers crashes on the island. The four survivors are amazed at what they encounter, which is what makes up the rest of the plot.
The movie ends with the 'tall' visitors unconditionally proclaiming that though the inhabitants of the island are short, they are second-to-none in terms of intelligence.
"This made them very tall... by all counts," said Vinayan.