Casting an uncanny, spectral look onto the backwaters of Kochi, this dilapidated building has been standing here for more than two centuries. Thinking back in time, one may be surprised to find that this building served as the shooting location for more than 40 films. Mohanlal’s film Sagar Alias Jackie and Mammootty’s Big B have been shot here. As the gentle wind sails through its holes, which once used to be its windows, it sounds as if this abandoned building is whispering to the people to come again and pay a visit to its unparalleled mysterious beauty.
Every day boats ferry across this lonely old building on the way to Fort Kochi. This worn down two-storey building stands as a testimony to an era when the British reigned. The building has been in the limelight ever since some major films have been shot here. “This building has been here since my grandfather’s time. It must be around 200 years old. I have a faint memory of him saying this was once a bank. During his time, it used to serve as a tea company. Till some years ago people used to come here to shoot films,” recalls Saleem, a native of this place.
A wall like an embankment surrounds the building. Entering through the door of the torn down embankment, we reach the building. The big arch door leads us to the inner rooms. The walls have been recoloured many times for the shootings. Shattered glass pieces, empty bottles, straw and burnt chisel powder are scattered over the floors. One of the rooms is coated in black colour with graffiti lining the wall. All of this remains of the shooting spree that took place here. A hairpin stairway with stark light green and brown shades takes us to the second floor.
A vast hall lay bare before us-one we have seen in much brighter light in movies. Roots cling from the roofs and creepers with red flowers make their way through the windows.
“This building has been built on lease land, much like the other buildings that adore this place. This used be a joined huge building, but people who came after took most of the other parts of the building for their own use. We don’t know who owns this building, but some say a man from somewhere in Kollam is now the owner of this building. Many movies have been shot here including Big B, Trivandrum Lodge and Sagar Alias Jackie, says another native Umbayi.
As one leaves the building, shutting the door back, the building takes its primordial form, shutting out its secrets to the passersby.