Aug 1, 2009

FIRE AT AVM STUDIO

CHENNAI: Fire broke out in the famous AVM studios in Vadapalani early on Friday morning, destroying the sets of under-production Tamil film

Vettaikaran' starring Vijay and Anushka. The fire, which broke shortly before three in the morning, gutted floor numbers 6 and 7 of the studios. The sets for the film was erected on floor 7. The damage, according to studio sources, is estimated to be Rs 8 crore. Inquiries reveal that the fire was caused by an electrical short-circuit in floor 6 and spread to floor 7. The two floors are part of one large building, partitioned by a wall, facing the lawns of the studios. Floors are separate structures in a studio where several films can be shot simultaneously. Around 2.50 am on Friday, a security guard noticed smoke emanating from floor 7. He immediately alerted the studio incharge and fire personnel. "Fire kept leaping out of floor 6. Within an hour, the entire floor was gutted. Vijay TV had erected its sets there," a fire personnel said. A fire personnel at the spot complained that the studios did not comply with fire safety norms and did not have even the basic infrastructure to cope with a fire accident. KK Nagar police have registered a case and further investigations are on. As soon as the news spread, units hands of Vettaikaran' rushed to the sets and managed to retrieve some expensive cameras, lighting units and audio devices. "We had just completed 106 days of shooting in Andhra Pradesh. Here we were shooting a fight scene between Vijay and Telugu actor. The first day's shoot finished at 6 pm (on Thursday) after which we packed the equipment and left them behind. We were hoping to finish the shooting for the film in another 35 days. We managed to save the two caravans, one for Vijay and another for Anushka, and also equipment worth lakhs of rupees," a production executive of Vettaikaran movie told The Times Of India. The AVM studios started functioning at its present location in Chennai in 1949 (after having started off as Pragati Studios at Santhome in 1945, but due to acute power shortage during World War Two, its owner A V Meiyappan shifted for a while to Karaikudi). Hindi cinema, right from the time of Raj Kapoor, has enjoyed a strong bond with AVM studios. The building comprising the two floors that were gutted on Friday looked old-fashioned from the outside, but inside it was well-equipped to create a make-believe world. The studio was designed with foam, thermocol and coir, which only fuelled the fire and gave a tough time to the fire personnel. "We received the fire call at 2.58 am. At least 11 fire tenders and 10 water tankers were pressed into service. By the time we came, fire had already engulfed floor 6, so we concentrated on floor 7 to prevent the fire from spreading to adjoining sets. We brought the fire under control at 5.15 am. By 9 am, it was put out," divisional fire officer (south) Priya N Ravichandran said. R Gowri Kumar, manager for M Balasubramanian, the producer of Vettaikaran', said, "I got the information at 3 am and I rushed here after informing my boss. We are yet to come to a conclusion about the cause of the fire. We are assessing the damage to file for insurance claim.

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