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|October 16, 1997||
'My boyishness is a drawback'
Dates and money matters too? At 15?
During that period, there were a lot of X-rated films in Malayalam. So, I had to be very careful about choosing films. I only picked good banners and good directors. I know I am an average actor. So, I need good directors to help me with my acting.
Even when you started acting, did you consider yourself an average actor?
I didn't say I was even an average actor then.
I didn't say that. You said so...
Yes, now I am an average actor. That is because I got a little bit of experience. See, it happened only after all these films. When I started, I was totally blank. I was not an average actor at all then.
When your were in college, did you behave as if you were different from others? You were a well-known film actor by then.
I was different. Different in the sense that I never went around like other youngsters. I lead a different kind of life. It is true that I never experience the usual teenage life, like roaming about with friends, going out in groups, etc.
Do you feel you missed something?
No, I don't think so. I might have lost certain things in life, but I gained something else too. You can't have everything.
What did you take as your course for graduation?
Commerce. I did my graduation here in Madras.
Because I found it difficult to go to any college in Kerala.
Were you mobbed a lot?
Not mobbed. That never happens in Kerala. Not even now. In college there, everybody looks at you as if your are some kind of specimen. And it made me quite uncomfortable. So, I came to Madras and I had no problems here. Nobody knew me here and I did only a few films then.
Was it because you wanted to concentrate on your studies?
No, the college authorities were very strict. I could not take any leave. But the main reason was I did not get any good role. See, the teens are an awkward age -- you are neither an adult nor a boy. Actually I was to do my chartered accountancy after my graduation. I even applied for my articleship.
Why? You wanted to be an actor, didn't you?
So I sat with my parents and discussed the pros and cons. It was a very tempting offer and I am a great fan of Bharatham sir. I was to do the role done in Malayalam by Pratap Pothen. It was a fantastic role.
But I felt there was no point in taking up movies as your career and sitting at home waiting for people to call. I didn't want that to happen to me. Somehow I was lucky to get quite a few very good roles after that, like the one in Sargam (which was a big hit in Malayalam), Kamaladalam, etc. Though Avaram Poovu was a success in Tamil, I could not concentrate on Tamil films as I was staying in Tellicherry. Tamil film producers too had some difficulty contacting me.
Now that you have chosen acting as your career, are you very particular about the kind of roles that you want to act in?
Just because I have chosen acting as my career, I need not take all kinds of roles. Characters roles are very important to me. I feel we have to be very careful in choosing films. I would like to have a clean image. If you are an extraordinary talented actor, you can choose any role in any film. It will not affect your image at all. But I am not a very talented actor.
For example, Venuchettan(Nedumudi Venu) can act in any stupid film and excel in his role. It will not affect him at all. Because he is superb in all his roles, irrespective of the quality of the film.
What, according to you, are your limitations?
Dance training has given me a kind of grace in my movements that does not look good in films. In my earlier films, my eye movements were more dance-like. Now I try to avoid all that.
Do you feel like an odd man out in the Malayalam film industry as most of your co-stars belong to a different age group?
No, I do belong there. I have got a lot of friends in the Malayalam film industry. See, I am not that young. I am 28.
Twenty-eight? You don't look 28. I though you were much younger.
Really? Thank you. But my boyishness is also a drawback. It prevents you from doing mature roles. You don't get a chance to do good characters.
But it can be advantageous also. Recently, you acted as a college student in Kadal Desam. A college student at 28 is great.
(Laughs) In most of the films, I am a collegian. But I feel this look is not an advantage at all.
How did Kadal Desam come about?
I was in Gentleman as Arjun's friend, in the flashback scenes. That was how I came to know Kunjumon sir.
Did you expect Kadal Desam to be such a big hit?
I knew it would be a hit. At the same time I was very apprehensive about its end since the girl did not choose either of the heroes. I didn't know how people would react to such an end. Luckily people liked it, especially in Andhra Pradesh.
But Abbas became more popular in Tamil Nadu than you.
Yes. That is because he performed very well. He is a new face and a very attractive and good-looking guy. He is basically a model, so he has got style too. I used to tell him that. He definitely became more popular.
Especially with girls.
Yes, he is very popular with girls.
Do you feel bad about it? A bit jealous?
No, not at all. I would have become jealous if I hadn't got any movies. Then I would have definitely felt bad. My character in the movie was nice. I am very happy because I got some fantastic films after that. I am doing a lot of Telugu movies, with good directors like Ram Gopal Verma, Krishna Vamsi, etc.
So you became more popular in Andhra Pradesh.
No, Abbas is popular there also. But I am doing more Telugu films, and he is doing more Tamil movies, that's all.
So, no hard feelings at all?
Absolutely not. See, I meet him quite often. He is a wonderful person, a very sweet guy.
There were quite a few very intimate scenes between you and Abbas in the movie in which you two looked like gays.
I know that. Though unintentional, in those scenes you two did not look like two innocent friends. The way you two ruffled each other's hairs, the way you hugged, etc...
There was a scene in which we were sleeping so close, with my head on Abbas's chest. While doing the scene itself, we thought we'd have problems with it.
So you also felt the same thing.
But we didn't take it seriously because it was not treated like that at all.
Anyway, we used to laugh at the way you two behaved in some of the scenes, especially in the song Mustafa.
Oh really? In fact, many people told me this.
Did you feel bad then?
Mmmm... See, the song is a big hit, especially with small children. Kids call me Mustafa uncle these days. Recently I was shooting for a Telugu film in Hyderabad and a bunch of kids came to see the shooting. All of them stood in a line and sang the full song for me. Oh, it was very sweet!... The credit goes to (music director) Rehman.
Are you getting a lot letters from girls after Kadal Desam?
Only phone calls. I have not publicised my address.
Do you enjoy this adulation from girls?
(Hesitantly) I enjoy the adulation. But only within a limit.
Do they go beyond those limits?
I don't encourage it. See, it happens to all actors. Still, you have to be nice to all of them. Some just call but don't talk. Some just won't stop talking. It's all part of the game.
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