I have been in search of fresh faces for different roles in Neelathamara for more than six months. It is quite interesting to see how each character got corresponding face! But till the final week of shoot I did not find an actress who could be cast as mother of `Rathnam’, played by Samvritha. This character, I thought, must have an aristocratic, sophisticated beauty as she is the wife of a leading advocate. Hence I kept wishing for a different face each time somebody showed a photograph. As the shoot crossed ten days the wait started touching my anxiety level. I was aware that the scene has to be shot within two or three days.
Producer Suresh Kumar’s friends Prof.Paul Mani and his wife Asha Paul visited the set one evening. They were having a leisurely outing with a group of friends. I was introduced to the couple. Instantly a thought flashed my mind. It was almost sure that I found the actress to be cast as advocate Balan Menon’s wife. After routine queries Asha and Paul gave their consent. I thought Asha enjoyed this moment as she remembered being asked by the crew of ‘Koodevide’ for a short appearance. Her friends who came along said they would be more than happy to see her in the role. The details of the scene were explained with the time and date of shoot. Before leaving the location she came with a request. “Do I really have to wear a saree?” she asked. “Of course”, I confirmed. “I have difficulty in wearing Saree”… my heart skipped a beat! Oh.., now what?! My mind wandered…is it some kind of fuss?! But her face showed genuine concern. “My back is not suitable to be shown on camera, in a Saree.. She explained. To avoid more trouble I responded that the shot would be from front. May be she thought I shouldn’t be kept in dark about this secret in her daily life and provided rest of the story…
Asha had a very bad fall about seven years back during one of her routine visits to her children’s school in Ooty. It was from a staircase. She hit ground after numerous somersaults. They tried Ayurveda near their home in Thachampara, Mannarcad. The damage worsened. After sometime she was taken to a hospital in Coimbatore for surgery. Instead of correcting the problem, the surgery paralysed almost whole of her body. As a last resort they approached Dr.Parthipan of KMCH hospital, Coimbatore. And it has been a fierce ground battle for the last six years, by replacing four spinal discs and undergoing eleven surgeries. Paul did everything and more; Children and friends stayed close. “This accident is a gift. I wouldn’t have been enriched with the capacity of understanding people from the bottom of their reality, if I didn’t go through the trauma!” she concludes. Knowing her story and experiencing the positive attitude she carried throughout her association with Neelathamara my feeling is much higher than gratitude and surprise… Words fail to express the grace of human Will….
During the scene, though I knew she was comfortable enough to perform, my mind stayed close to her… Observing each movement… Thinking we had something precious among us to care for…!