All prayed for Nesamani but did you know director Siddique almost ditched the hammer scene!

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Friends starring Jayaram, Mukesh and Sreenivasan in the lead roles had ample doses of humor and these scenes played a vital role in drawing the audience to the theaters. One such scene is when a hammer falls on the head of Lazar eleppan, played brilliantly by Jagathy Sreekumar. The audience apparently roared in laughter as they enjoyed Jagathy’s funny expressions when the hammer falls on his head. This scene is undoubtedly one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. However, not many know that the makers had initially decided to ditch this scene in the Malayalam version of Friends. When production controller Gireesh Vaikom informed director Sidhique that the producer was skeptical about adding one more humor scene in the movie as it would increase the duration, the director decide not to film the hammer scene.

Meanwhile, art director Mani Suchitra had already prepared the dummy hammer that was supposed to fall on Jagathy’s head. The assistant directors too were upset knowing that the hammer scene was ditched. They approached actor Jayaram to persuade the director to include the scene. Jayaram remained adamant that the scene which was amazingly funny should be included. Finally the crew decided to can the scene.

The movie was about to get wrapped up and the crew needed just half a day to shoot the hammer scene. It was decided that the filming of the scene would begin at 7, next morning. However, producer Vindhyan’s brother Dinan came to the sets and said that they wanted Jayaram as the actor had to complete dubbing for some portions in the latter’s movie. So, the next day, Jayaram left the sets for the dubbing and the crew of Friends proceeded to shoot the hammer scene without him. That is how the popular scene was shot at the last moment, without featuring Jayaram who had demanded to include the scene.

The role meant for Innocent

Veteran actor Innocent was initially cast for the role of Lazar eleppan in Friends. However, film makers Sathyan Anthikad and Priyadarshan too had sought the actor’s dates for their movies. Unable to take a decision, Innocent asked Sidhique what he was supposed to do. Sidhique replied that the actor himself could make the decision. Innocent, who shares amazing friendship with all the three directors, decided to act in none of their movies as it was extremely difficult for him to choose one of them. That is how Jagathy Sreekumar landed the role of Lazar eleppan.

Lazar is Nesamani

The makers decided to remake Friends in Tamil as the Malayalam version was a blockbuster. It was actor Vadivelu who portrayed the role played by Jagathy Sreekumar, in Tamil. When legendary composer Ilayaraja came to know that Vadivelu would be essaying the character called Nesamani in Tamil, he suggested Sidhique to ask the actor to watch how Jagathy had acted amazingly in the scene. Sidhique told this to Vadivelu and the actor got thrilled. However, Sidhique was worried whether it would look as if he was imitating Jagathy. Vadivelu did an amazing job in the movie and his scenes were greatly appreciated.

There is an interesting snippet about actor Vijay from the sets of this movie. The actor, who cannot control his laughter in humor scenes, had requested the director to not include him in such combination scenes. Sidhique who wanted Vijay in the scenes, however, asked him to turn his back to the camera so that no one would see him laugh. Like many other scenes in the movie, Vijay could be seen standing with his back turned to the camera in this scene as well. The hammer scene in Tamil is longer than the one shot in Malayalam.

Artificial sound

The sound mixing of Friends was done in the Prasad 70 mm studio. When the hammer falls on the head, the audience hears the sound of an iron hammer falling on a hard surface. The sound recordist felt that there was artificiality in it. Sidhique admits that the sound feels artificial as it wouldn’t make a loud thump when the hammer falls on head. However, the director was sure that it was the sound which would make the scene incredibly humorous. The sound recordist too was convinced when he heard people laughing out loud in the theater during the preview show of the movie.

The palace

The hammer scene was filmed at the beautiful Kushal Das building in Chennai. The building which played a prominent role in Friends, however, was demolished later.

The hammer

The hammer which falls from Sreenivasan’s hand is really made of iron. But the one that falls on Jagathy’s head is a dummy hammer made using rubber. The same hammer and building used in the Malayalam version was repeated in the Tamil remake as well.

The expression

The dialogue ‘aaniye pudunga venda’ from the scene has almost become a popular slang in Tamil. It means that one shouldn’t attempt doing a job that he/ she doesn’t know. 

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