Published: 30th April 2018
Mani Ratnam's film crew litters Kovalam with glass shards and metal shells
At least three volunteers involved in the clean-up operations have cut their fingers and toes while sifting through the sand for glass shards
An action sequence shot recently along Kovalam Beach for Mani Ratnam's upcoming movie Chekka Chivantha Vaanam may not have injured any of the actors. But it is definitely harming the beach and marine life that thrives in the area.
After finishing the shoot on April 24, the crew had left behind glass shards and metal shells between the backwaters and Kovalam beach. Besides being a hot spot for sea surfers, the area is also home to marine life, especially crabs.
Showkath Jamal, a lawyer, who runs the Bay of Life Surf School, and his wife Madhu were shocked when they visited the beach on April 25 morning. "This is unacceptable. Film crews should ensure they do not litter, especially on a beach, and clean up the area after they are done," he said.
The school halted surfing and launched a three-day clean-up operation with volunteers from the surf school and locals. Despite their best efforts, when Express visited the site on Sunday, pieces of glass were still seen buried under the sand. "These smaller pieces are hard to spot, but they can easily pierce your feet. Getting it out might even require surgical intervention" said Deepika, a volunteer sifting through the sand near the basin.
At least three volunteers involved in the clean-up operations have cut their fingers and toes while sifting through the sand for glass shards. "While it ruins the beach aesthetic and poses a threat to humans, it affects marine life like crabs that live on the sand," said Jamal.
He said after repeated attempts, Madras Talkies, the production house of Mani Ratnam responded and said they would arrange for a clean-up. But they have not specified dates as to when it would take place.
Madras Talkies said Kovalam beach area was cleared of trash after the shoot. "After we packed up, we had about 20 men cleaning up the place. Once we cleared our trash and left, we cannot be blamed for the pre-existing condition of the beach. The fact that the place was littered with trash and broken glass before our shoot is not our responsibility," said Siva Ananth, Executive Producer, Madras Talkies.
Claiming that they were equally concerned about the environment as anyone else, Ananth said, "We take pride in respecting the sanctity of our shooting locations. For years, our unit members have been trained to use trash bags we carry with us wherever we go. Once the shoot gets over, a team stays back to clean up the place along with local help, to ensure that the place is reset to the pre-shoot conditions. This has been our practice for many films and it is one of the reasons we get to shoot in the best locales in the country as the authorities and the people know that we are a responsible production unit."
This is not the first time surfers have had to face such a situation. Jamal alleged that the crew of A R Murugadoss film had littered the beachfront with plastic and props. "Parts of a ship replica made out of wood was abandoned by the crew. We had to reel it in and dispose it off," he said.
Interestingly, locals in Kovalam fishing hamlet are turning a blind eye to the littering. "The affected parts of the beach are deserted, so it is not a big issue," said K Jayaprakash, a local leader.