Dreaming about that European trip: In conversation with Balu Varghese | Travel

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Jan.E.Man is a film that ignites laughter and makes you forget everything that went wrong during the COVID-19 wave. The film stars Balu Varghese, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Basil Joseph, and Ganapathi. Balu Varghese shares his shooting experience, Covid period, and travelogues to Onmanorama.

What is the latest on the movie front?
When the whole world was getting ready for their beauty sleep, a few of us would put on make-up and begin shooting. Today it is extremely gratifying to know that the movie that messed up our biological clock is making so much noise in the theatres. All the small difficulties we faced then have faded away when we see the rush in the theatres today. Most of the scenes in the film had to be shot at night. Filming will start at 6 pm and end at 6 am. Then everyone eats breakfast and goes to bed. The first two or three days were a bit difficult. But we soon got used to it. Everyone was like family at the time of the shooting. Arjun, Ganapati, and I are best friends. Basil and Lal Uncle were also hugely supportive. Everyone was in a fun mood. The shoot was finished in 35 days. And most of the shoot was at night. Uncle Lal was with us all night.

We had shot the film in a few houses. Initially, due to the pandemic uncertainty, we thought of releasing it on OTT. But as the film progressed, we felt it was imperative that it reached a larger audience. So what was done till then was reworked and the film was prepared for the theatres by adding interval. So after a gap of one year, Jan.E.Man came to the theatres. The audience welcomed it with open arms.

Acting and travel
I am as passionate about cinema as I am about travelling. I haven’t really been on big trips but everything that I have gone so far has been heartily enjoyed. Be it with friends or with my wife Elena, I have loved all the trips. As far as travel buffs are concerned two most ruthless and forgettable years just passed by. Elena misses such trips than I do as she loves to travel. The plan was to visit some places after the wedding. But all our best-laid plans went haywire by COVID-19. And then came our son and life became even busier. It’s great to spend time with him.

Even when Elena was pregnant, we used to travel in and around Kerala. At that time Covid restrictions were less in our state. Having said that we would take all the safety precautions. Whenever we have time, we take short trips by car. There is no such thing as a special place. Any journey we take away from home is special, no matter the distance.

Dubai’s adventure rides were unforgettable
The trip to Dubai last December with Elena was unforgettable. Ganapathi accompanied us. It was a trip for shooting purposes. We decided to celebrate New Year there. There were no major restrictions then. The only restriction was that we could not travel from Dubai to other countries.

It was indeed a remarkable journey. We managed to catch most of the popular tourist spots in Dubai that day. Elena was pregnant at the time. Dubai is like a pandora’s box, offering us endless fascinating sights. So each time we go there, we discover a new facet to Dubai and it’s a great feeling. I love Dubai during the night. Then it is a totally different city, with a different vibe. We strolled through the city all night and it was magical.

Desert safari was an unforgettable experience on that trip. Unlike the usual safari, it was a dune buggy ride, a more adventurous ride. It is driven by experienced drivers. We will be in the passenger seat. It is impossible to describe what it feels like to bend over and turn over sand dunes. I have ridden a regular ATV and a quad bike. But my opinion is that if you want to enjoy a desert safari in all its glory, you should take a buggy ride once. It’s scary, but it’s seriously awesome! If a fast-paced ride over challenging terrain is what you are looking for, dune buggy riding is the activity for you. Explore the sand dunes and everything that it offers across the deserts of Dubai on a buggy. Marvel at the desert landscape and follow the nature trails as you explore sand dunes and try out different manoeuvrers.

When we rode on an American bus
Once a stage show was organised in America and the only reason, I agreed to be part of the show was the idea of visiting a foreign country. And as expected that trip was awesome. Since the program was held at several places, we had to travel from one place to another. Usually, vehicles are arranged by the organizers but this time they arranged a bus for us. The opportunity to travel by bus back and forth in the United States was unforgettable.

The bus ride was terrific fun. We can enjoy watching the view. On that bus journey, we were able to see so many sights that we would not have been able to see while travelling by plane. We were told that one should enjoy the country by road in America. I was lucky.

Europe is the next destination
We are dying to travel and see as many places as possible. Travelling gives us a special high. We have a trip to Europe in mind. That’s been a dream for a while. But unfortunately, that might take a while looking at the current situation. But I am sure we will eventually make that trip. The world is worried about the new virus. Everyone is wondering when it will be safe to travel again. Once this pandemic calms down we should be able to make that Europe trip with our son.

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