Jeevan in Sara’s is the progressive face of today’s Malayalee youth. He leaves it to the partner to decide about having a child and stands by her. Jeevan was safe in the hand of Sunny Wayne, who seems to have had a good year so far, with back-to-back releases (Chathur Mukham, Anugraheethan Antony). The actor made his debut alongside Dulquer Salman in Second Show in 2012 and since then has been an important presence in Malayalam cinema. Sunny Wayne shares his travel and cinema experiences with us
The first lockdown was hard
Corona kept people indoors. During the second wave, somehow, we managed to sail through with films shoots and promotions. However, I found the first lockdown more difficult to handle. Last year, I couldn’t travel anywhere and that was the toughest part of it all. After the initial days of leisure, it became increasingly difficult to find ways to keep myself engaged. That’s when I realised the importance of meeting people, socialising, being at work. Things we have always taken for granted.
My job is to act. And usually, I am shooting 6 months of a year. It will start in the morning and go on till midnight. That also means I have no time to think about anything else. For someone like that this lockdown can be painful and lonely. Of course, I needed the break but then it stretched a bit too far. Sara’s was filmed in November when they had lifted the lockdown restrictions.
The first wave was so claustrophobic
Honestly last year we haven’t really done much travel. And it just didn’t seem right-to travel amidst such gloom. Considering half of the world was struggling to come to terms with covid, unemployment and financial setbacks. There have been instances when we were tempted to go somewhere. This year hopefully we will be travelling. At least that’s the plan.
Where is the trip?
Who doesn’t want to travel now? Though we haven’t been able to plan long travels, we did cover quite a few places in Kerala this time. Also tried extensive trekking as well as travelled to small unknown destinations. The sheer positive energy you get from travel must be experienced. It can give you such joy! Right now, there is a European trip on my mind.
When I say Europe, I don’t mean the usual travel spots. There is a side to Europe that hasn’t been explored much by travellers. So, the plan is to pick such destinations and make a trip along with a close friend. Though in the current scenario the dates are uncertain we will definitely make that trip. I have been on a solo trip to Europe before. Amsterdam, Paris, Greece, Switzerland etc. During the middle of the trip, a friend joined me. It's home to numerous castles, palaces, cathedrals, vineyards and beaches and is also known for its influential art, architecture and culture.
The excitement of a solo trip
I love the solo trips and I think it has its benefits. If something happens you don’t need to wait for the rest to run (laughs). Jokes apart, there is a special thrill in travelling alone. When you are travelling alone you are pretty much forced to talk to other people, otherwise, you will feel very lonely. But the good news is that it is relatively easy to strike up friendships on the road and, as a solo traveller, there is more of an incentive for you to do so. While travelling with other people is fun, there is less incentive to reach out to other people, be it, fellow travellers or locals. Budgeting is often a tricky part of travelling and is made more difficult if you must accommodate other people’s preferences.
Travelling alone means that you have complete control over your travel budget, including how to spend it. Travelling with another person or as part of a group involves a lot of give and take. Compromise and negotiation are the order of the day. You can direct and choose your itinerary, going when and where you want and at your own pace. You can be spontaneous, changing plans at the drop of a hat, sometimes because of fellow travellers giving you the inside scoop about a particularly exciting place they visited. Although travelling with family, friends and loved ones can be fantastic, doing it alone will give you more opportunity for growth, both as a traveller and as a person. Stepping away from the familiar, can force you to do things you might never have contemplated before. Being left to your own devices in out-of-the-ordinary situations forces you to overcome your fears and, in doing so, you find out just what you are capable of. There will always be bumps in the travel road this means that you sometimes must make tough decisions. And, when you are travelling solo, you have no one to rely upon but yourself. If you are someone who struggles with making decisions or solving problems, this is a great life skill that you can take away from solo travel.
Travel and work
I have been to several places as part of the shoot. In 2019, before heading home and just before the pandemic was declared, for a month I was on an India tour (Mumbai, Bangalore, Rajasthan, Shimla, Mysore, Gujarat). You can’t really call it a journey, as it was part of work. Having said that I could somehow manage to squeeze some time for sightseeing. That was my first Gujarat trip. I visited Kutch which is virtually an island that resembles the shape of a tortoise. It is an erstwhile princely state of India holding onto its grandeur nature from the past. Kutch is probably one of the most beautiful, yet surreal places in India with the vast expanses of the white salt desert. I loved the cuisine, natural landscape and also did some shopping.
Cold, colder, coldest
When we visited Shimla in December, the winter was at its peak. The average temperature during this season is around 8°C and goes down to -2°C. You can see snow, which typically falls between December and February. This is the time skiing and ice skating take off. And then I had to shoot in that biting cold. For my scene, I was not required to wear gloves. We were all shivering during the filming. The conditions were extremely difficult for shooting as the light would disappear by 4 pm. We were all put up at a hotel nearby. But the food was being arranged in another hotel and there was a campfire. You need to at least warm your hands near the fire for a good 10 minutes for your body to get back into a normal temperature. It was that cold! I think my hands that frozen.
Once we had been to Ladakh to shoot another film. The shoot was at 2 am and it was near Pangong lake. Pangong Lake, situated at a height of almost 4,350m, is the world's highest saltwater lake. Its water, which seems to be dyed in blue, stand in stark contrast to the arid mountains surrounding it. It spans Eastern Ladakh and West Tibet. The charm of Pangong lake is its ability to change colour. The shades range from light green to crystal blue and sometimes even golden, red, and pink. Experts believe that change in sky colour and refraction at high altitudes causes this phenomenon. But in winter, it completely freezes. Only me and the heroine had shot there. The temperature was -14 degrees. It was snowing heavily. So, you can imagine how cold it would have been! When I look back, I don’t even know how we managed to shoot in that climate. It was a surreal experience.
Next to the frozen lake, we had to lie down on our backs and gaze at the sky. We were as frozen as the lake. And we couldn’t even drink a cup of hot tea. Since the shoot was on a high range, by the time the tea arrives it would be frozen. It took only a minute to turn hot water into ice water. That was how cold it was.
I can never forget the trip to Rajasthan as part of Rajiv Ravi sir’s Kuttavum Shikshayum. We were a big team comprising of the cast and crew (Rajiv Ravi, Asif Ali, Sharfuddin). They had arranged a palace for our crew to stay. When you say palace, it was the same palace where kings would visit to rest during their hunting trips. That journey was memorable. It was located away from the hustle and bustle of the city and therefore unusually peaceful. You need to travel 5 hrs from Jaipur city to reach this Palace. There were medicinal plants around the Palace. Especially Neem leaves! If not for Rajeev Ravi I wouldn’t probably have the fortune to live in that palace. Since most of these travels are done as part of a film shoot, it cannot be called travelling but I still enjoy it. I heard Rambagh palace, which was the residence of the rulers of Jaipur was palace was originally built in the middle of a thick forest. The Rambagh Palace evolved over time. At first, it was a single monument that was made into the hunting lodge of a king.
When your partner loves travelling
I think we perhaps did more travelling before marriage. My wife Ranjini is a travel buff. Every year we go to Ladakh for trekking. Unfortunately, after marriage, we haven’t been able to travel much together.
This August Ranjini will again be going to Ladakh for her yearly trekking expedition. Since I have some pending work, I won’t be able to join her on this trip. I think she will make the most of this trip, considering she missed the trip twice already. We had booked a trip to Kashmir but didn’t happen. Then came Corona virus and it became difficult for anyone to travel. Right now, my mind is set on this Europe trip and hopefully, that’s going to happen soon enough. Seeing the world itself is an experience by itself. A few places are there on my mind. Last week was Ranjini’s birthday and we celebrated it in style. Meanwhile, my recent releases got a good response. I couldn’t be happier!