The much talked-about elephant romp in the Athirapilly jungles of Kerala during the shooting of Mani Ratnam's Raavan which left one mauled and dead, was far more gruesome and perilous than has been made out to be.
Ravi Kissan who plays Abhishek Bachchan's elder brother recounts the horrific sequence of events. "Aishwarya (Bachchan), Abhishek (Bachchan) and I were shooting when the elephant got annoyed. It attacked the mahout and killed him in the most gruesome manner. The elephant pierced the mahout's lungs with its tusks. The tusks went through the lungs and came out from the back of the mahout. Then the elephant ran around with the mahout's inert body stuck in its tusks in a frightening display of animal power. It was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen in my life."
But there was a rather sobering side to this naked display of Nature's fury. "Minutes after this brutal killing the elephant realized what it had done and was crying profusely."
All the while Ravi had climbed on top of the unit bus which had brought him and the unit to the spot. "If I didn't have the presence of mind to scamper quickly to the top of the bus I'd have definitely been trampled to death."
The unit has now scampered quickly to Ooty, terminating abruptly the shooting in the Athirapilly jungles. On Friday morning, members of the unit seemed unsure of the next move.
One member of the Raavan unit on condition of anonymity said that the film's future is getting rapidly challenged. "The budget has shot up to Rs.120 crores. The entire ambience and language for the Hindi and South Indian versions is different. To further recover investments the producers have decided to dub the film in Telugu besides having a proper Hindi-Tamil bi-lingual 2-language release. The catastrophes, illnesses and tensions are multiplying. And Mani Ratnam is getting progressively stressed out. So we're all worried about his health."