COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
For the pooja ceremony for 'Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol' at Kozhikode, in June, 2016, director Jibu Jacob invited his Kottayam-based uncle Fr. Joffie Puthuva to say the prayers. “I was very happy when Fr. Joffie came,” says the film's producer Sophia Paul. “I had met him earlier at a function at Jibu's home in Njarakal and we got along very well.”
However, a week later, the priest was travelling with a boy on a motorbike, in Thuruthy (Changanacherry). A sand-laden lorry overtook him, but it collided with a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. As a result, sand fell on the road and Fr. Joffie lost control of his bike and hit his head against a post. He was taken to a hospital where he died, while the boy sustained only minor injuries.
Then a few days later, an unit vehicle was going towards the shoot location at Kozhikode. “A couple were travelling on a scooter,” says Sophia. Suddenly, another vehicle hit them from the back. The two-wheeler skidded and the woman fell in front of our vehicle. It was so sudden that the driver had no chance to apply the brakes. The car ran over the lady, and she died instantly.
Meanwhile, 'Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol' was released in January. Then, one day, Sophia got the surprising news that a nun, Sr. Lizzy Chakkalakal took the students of Class 8, 9 and 10 of the Our Lady's School at Thoppumpady, Kochi, to see the film. (The story is about how Mohanlal, who plays a middle-class husband and father, in a stagnant marriage, falls in love with his wife again and has a better relationship with his children).
It was after this that Sophia got the idea of getting the clergy interested in the film. So, a special screening was organised for Cardinal George Alencherry, several bishops, priests and nuns. “Soon the priests began to talk about the film in their Sunday sermons,” says Sophia. “Suddenly, in the Christian belts in Kerala, there was a huge increase in the audience. This was one of the reasons why our film became a superhit.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)