It is common knowledge that making a film with animals is much more
difficult than making one with human beings. Even the famous Alfred Hitchcock, who made "The Birds" would have
agreed to this. The late Chinnappa Devar a well-known Tamil producer used to say it was
easier for him to make films with animals as they do not demand high remuneration and trouble the producer by not giving
dates. Unable to cope with the demands of the 'stars', he found a
way out by producing films with animals. He found them highly
fascinating and soon became a good judge of their psyche. This made him produce films with animals with unusual ease. He
used to say that one could easily make animals do things if one understood their behavioral
The popular sentiment in the film industry is that showing a snake in
one of the scenes would contribute to the success of a film. The sentiment had developed from the days of the Hindi film Nagin of good
olden days featuring Pradip Kumar and Vijayanti Mala, which was a super hit all over the country.
"Devathalara Deevinchandi" and the latest "Nagadevata" were all big
hits, refurbishing the sentiment.
This sentiment created a great demand for snakes and employment for the suppliers of the reptiles.
The audience are not aware that the snake which appeared in the first scene
is not the same that appeared in the last scene. Snakes,
which live underground are accustomed to cool climate and cannot withstand the heat generated by the arc lamps of the studios. Some die
half way through the production and the supplier is ready with a similar looking snake so that that shooting
is not hampered. The snake supplier's job is not an easy one. First it is difficult to
procure a snake and its similar looking standby. Training the snake and ensuring that it does not bite the hero
was the more difficult part of the game. The supplier removes the poison fangs of the snake and makes
it harmless. He also puts a single stitch to the snake's mouth to further ensure that it could not open its mouth when not necessary. He
and his assistants will have to be watchful as long as the snake is doing the
act to ensure that it does not disappear and cause panic. Of course the silver lining is that he gets paid for the effort.
The snake charmer gets Rs.2000 for renting out his snake plus food for himself and his
assistants apart from that of the reptile.
It is much more difficult to shoot with wild animals like the lion or
the tiger. Special care is taken by the trainer to ensure that these wild animals do not harm the heroes. The animal would be kept on fast
the previous evening to make it weak. It is also given a mild sedative to make it less active and less menacing. Nails of all the
paws are removed as even a mild throw of the paw with nails could cause lot of damage to a delicate hero. However some shots are picturised
with the nails to establish the ferocity of the animal and the shots are carefully edited to establish that the hero was fighting with a real
wild animal. Even after taking so much care it is mostly the dupes that get locked in a tight embrace
with the animal in a close fight. The hero would ultimately jump in to make the kill.
The trainer gets Rs.5000 to Rs.10,000 apart from food for the entire team. He also gets free transportation to and from the shooting spot.
Mega Star Chiranjivi is one of the few artistes, who does his fights himself. He has performed a fight with a extra large
Lion in the South African jungles for the film "Mruga Raju". The African tiger acted
for 50 days in the film which ensures its appearance in more than 60 percent of the film. Rajanikant also acted without dupes in
"Amma Evarikaina Amme" a film with more tigers than men.
Directors require even insects and worms when story demands.
The director of "Papam Pasivadu" summoned his production manager and ordered him to get some white ants. The production man did not know
where to look for a supplier of white ants. He approached the animal supplier who assured him that he could supply white ants.
White ants were required, as the director wanted to show how much time had elapsed from the day the
aircraft crashed to ground, by
showing white ants eating away parts of the wooden structure. Shooting of the particular scene was to take place in the deserts of
Rajasthan. The ant supplier was asked to carry live white ants to
Rajasthan from Chennai. The Supplier found some white ants along some dead trees and
bred them in a
well-ventilated box, feeding them news papers and book pages. The producers were afraid that the ants would die if the supplier
travel by train and bought flight ticket for the supplier. He flew in the comfort of a Boeing to Jaisalmir and earned a fortune.
Trained animals, pet or otherwise are available only in Chennai where films of many languages are
produced, as the animals have no language
barriers. These suppliers of animals do not earn money every day. Take for example the trainer of the Lion or a Tiger. Shooting or no shooting he
has to feed the animals. What about the one who trains an elephant? Can you imagine his fate if he does not have shootings for a couple of
months? What about the animals who have to endure all the hardships
during the making of the film. Give it a thought next time you watch an
animal in a film.