Shooting through the ages: A saga of accidents

Shooting through the ages: A saga of accidents

Kannada film industry has witnessed the highest number of accidents and deaths at shooting locations in the country. The history of stunt artistes risking their lives to perform superhuman deeds dates back to 1965, when thespian Dr Rajkumar’s movie ‘Katari Veera’ was being shot. The matinee idol had his eyes injured in a sword fight sequence. Stunt director Shivaiah’s safety measures did not help.

Another stunt director Rudresh fractured his hands and legs while shooting for the 1983 film, ‘Havada Huvu’. It took several months before he returned to shooting. All that he received for the risky shot was Rs 250. Three years before this, veteran actor Lokanath had to jump from the old central jail’s wall, having a height of about 32 feet. The movie was Minchina Ota. In doing so, he fractured both his legs.

The Chamarajpet burial ground was the shooting site for the movie “Bangalore Today.” Actor Vinod Alva’s eyes were injured so badly after co-actor Napoleon hit him that he had to undergo surgery. In 1987, well known actor Devaraj barely escaped a similar accident when filming was in progress for the flick Ravana Rajya.

One of the deadliest stunt scenes in the industry was shot for the film Lockup Death in 1994. Actors Shivakumar and Ravi were told to jump with their bikes on to a double-decker bus on MG Road. This stunt went completely wrong as the duo lost balance and fell.

Injuries left Ravi mentally disturbed while Shivakumar escaped with a nasal wound. It was later found out that negligence on the part of stunt director Thriller Manju had triggered the accident. Eventually, the episode created a hype for the movie. Chasing commercial success, many people in the industry started mimicking such action scenes. 

Death came calling when camera operator Viji was shooting for the film Simhada Mari (1997). Viji died in the scene. The scene had 10 stuntsmen jump down from a height of 20 feet in police shoes. All the 10 had their legs fractured.

Two light boys were electrocuted while shooting for the movie ‘Hello Sister’ (1995) in front of a wedding hall on Bannerghatta Road. The duo had climbed the hall’s roof and accidentally touched a live wire on a crane. The film was directed by Saiprakash.

Hippy Ramu, a clap boy, had met with a similar fate. The crew was shooting for ‘Shivasainya’ (1995) in a farmhouse. The sheet roof had developed cracks, affecting the shooting. Ramu attempted to cover the sheet, but in the process, the roof came crashing down. He died on the spot.

Stuntmen Babu and Chandrashekhar were badly injured while shooting an action scene for the 1997 film ‘Hai Benglauru.’ They had fallen from a bike while trying to land on a BMTC bus on Railway Parallel road.

The tale of Jockey Shivu is heartrending. He was asked to do a stunt without safety measures for the film Kaali (1997). He rotated his body in the air, collapsed and suffered multiple fractures to the backbone. Shivu, who had just turned a father, was a veteran of 25 films.

The death of Bomb Ravi was another tragedy. An expert in storing and handling explosives since 1982, Ravi ran out of luck while shooting for the movie ‘Ticket Ticket’ at Abbayya Naidu studio. He was killed on the spot as the bomb exploded.

Actor Sarigama Viji suffered three fractures on his leg while filming ‘Kiran Bedi’ in 2009. He had to undergo multiple surgeries and treatment for months. “The accident abruptly ended my career,” recalls the actor.

Music director Hamsalekha’s son Alankar and his stuntsman were injured when the duo jumped down from a 40-ft-high compound. The movie’s release was shelved. A similar tragedy occurred during the shooting of the movie ‘Jackie Chan.’ Film journalist D V Sudheendra and a fighter were injured when a jeep driver lost balance and knocked them down. A bomb explosion was the trigger.

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