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Thiruvananthapuram, April 2, 2020
Top Malayalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, award-winning director Blessy and 56 other crew members find themselves stuck in Jordan, where they were shooting for a film, because of the international travel restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has hit the world.
Prithviraj drew the attention of the authorities and others concerned, as well as his fans, to the crew's plight through a post on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Blessy, meanwhile, has sent an e-mail to the Kerala Film Chamber, seeking its help in taking up the matter with state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
In his post on Twitter, Prithviraj, who has also acted in Hindi movies such as Aiyyaa, Aurangzeb and Naam Shabana as well as several Tamil and Telugu films, said that the shooting of the Malayalam film "Aadujeevitham" in Jordan was stopped on March 24 due to the prevailing circumstances.
"But after an appraisal of our situation, the authorities were convinced that our unit was isolated and operating safely within the confines of the Wadi Rum desert, and hence, we were given a go-ahead for the shoot.
"Unfortunately, soon after, the prevailing restrictions in Jordan had to be further strengthened as a precautinary measure and as a result, our shoot permission was revokved on 27/3/2020.
"Following that, our team has been staying at the desert camp in Wadi Rum. We have now been told that an immediate permission for shoot to resume is unlikely due to the situation and, hence, our next best option would be to return to India at the first available opportunity," he said.
He said that, as the team had originally planned to stay and shoot in Wadi Rum till the second week of April, their accommodation, food and supplies are taken care of for the immediate future. "But, obviously, what happens beyond that timeline is a matter of concern," he said.
He said there is a doctor in the team who is carrying out medical check-ups for each member of the crew every 72 hours. They are also examined periodically by a government-appointed Jordanian doctor.
"We completely understand that, given the circumstances around the world, our team of 58 might not be the biggest concern of authorities back home now, and rightfully so. But we also felt that it was our duty to let all concerned know about the situation and keep them updated.
"There are thousands of Indians around the world waiting to get back home and we hope, when the appropriate time and opportunity arrives, we are also able to come back to India. Till then , I hope all of you stay safe and let's collectively hope and pray that life gets back to normal soon," he added.
Anil Thomas, an official of the Kerala Film Chamber, said Blessy's e-mail had been forwarded to various lawmakers, including Malayalam superstar-turned-Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi.
Prithviraj's mother Malika Sukumaran, a well-known actress, said that she spoke to her son on Monday.
"He said the shooting has been stopped following strict restrictions imposed on account of Covid-19 in Jordan. The shooting was on in a desert. Things are fine with them, except that the shooting is not happening. They were supposed to wind up the Jordan part of the shoot next week and were scheduled to fly out to Algeria as per their original schedule," she said.
Described as one of the costliest Malayalam films, "Aadujeevitham" (A Goat's Life" is based on the award-winning eponymous Malayalam novel by Benyamin.
It tells the tale of a man, whose life ends up in a shambles after reaching the Middle East and who ends up tending goats in extreme desert temperatures.
Blessy's past films including his debut film in "Kaazcha" (2004), "Thanmathra" (2005), "Pranayam"(2011), to name a few, all of which occupy a place of pride in the Malayalam film industry.
(With inputs from IANS)