MUMBAI—Late on the night of June 11, the cast and crew of “Luv Kush,” one of the premium shows to be aired on television, had to be evacuated from a remote location in Kashmir and brought back to Mumbai.
For this story set in Ayodhya, the birthplace of God Ram, the makers were contemplating shooting at real locations in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. But they instead picked a few of the exotic and remotest villages of Kashmir for a month-long schedule that was brought to a standstill in an unfortunate turn of events.
Creative director Siddhartha Tewatiya, who was an eyewitness, shares their ordeal. “With the ongoing political tension in the valley and also the killing of a mastermind terrorist a few weeks ago, we were mentally prepared to play it safe, and to our surprise, the locals had been the kindest. But this incident took us completely by surprise. We were to shoot one of the most crucial scenes involving Lord Ram’s chariot and had arranged for 25 horses. It was late afternoon, and while shooting on a mountain top that was inaccessible by road, we saw a couple of teenage boys approaching, and then asking us to stop shooting. Our local line producer tried to reason with them, and we believed the situation was under control until a couple of minutes later we were surrounded by over 50 of them ready to pelt stones. We were saved as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) reached us in time and rescued us.”
“It was a horrifying experience. We had to film a very important scene and had flown a chariot, especially to the mountainous terrain. But we were asked by the producer to return immediately. We then moved towards Srinagar and took the first flight back home,” added Tewatiya.
Producer-writer-director Siddharth Kumar Tewary is grateful to have his unit of 170 people back without any injuries. “The entire team travels and works with us on complete trust and faith, and we are responsible for them. Though there were assurances from different people for complete safety, there is no substitute to human life, and nothing more important. We have shot in Kashmir for a quite a few times over the last decade, but it’s never been like this ever. I thank the CRPF for coming in at the right time and ensuring the safety of our team.”
After interpreting the biggest epic “Mahabharat” for a new generation, Tewary, who is known for creating path-breaking premium shows on television, is gearing up to present the next biggest story ever told on Indian television, “Ramayan,” through the lens of Luv and Kush, twin sons born to Ram and Sita.