There has never been a dearth for heroes who can handle humour with perfection in Mollywood. However, the same cannot be said for the leading ladies, as there have been only a few who could actually elicit a few good laughs in the theatres. And Urvashi is one among them - the actor is known for her impeccable comic timing.
In the recently released movie 'Ente Ummante Peru', which is running to packed cinemas, Urvashi is seen along side young sensation Tovino Thomas pulling off effortlessly another jovial character.
When both the actors came together for a candid chat, it was the union of two extremely passionate artists from different generations. Other than their movie, the pair discussed various points including films, the fraternity, and morality in movies.
Tovino impressed Urvashi as Hameed so much that she felt it was one of Tovino's career best characters.
“The movie is about a youngster’s quest to meet his mother and the woman who enters his life as a mother. Tovino's is a unique role in this film. Though he has a physique of an incredibly strong man, Tovino was able bring out the innocence of a 15-year-old, who misses his mother, in the movie,” said Urvashi.
“I have done quite a few mother roles like the one in 'Achuvinte Amma'. But when I was acting in 'Ente Ummante Peru', even I wished I had an ‘umma’ (mother) like that,” Urvashi added.
Tovino was also all praise for the veteran actor and said that interacting with her during the shoot helped him understand the soul of Malayalam cinema.
“I haven’t done many movies with senior artistes like you. I had a clear picture about the movies of your times and the actors, only after our interaction,” said Tovino. The movie had lots of combination scenes between Urvashi and Tovino and it gave them enough time to catch up on a lot of things.
“Many thought this was a serious movie when they heard the title ‘Ente Ummante Peru’. They understood the feel of it only after the teaser came out,” said Tovino.
Urvashi was quick to add that the movie actually deals with a serious theme, relationship.
“I think people fight with each other or get upset at someone only when there is love in a relationship. In the movie, we have conveyed all that in pleasant language. We never tried to forcefully bring in comedy for the sake of it. It’s just that the real life experiences are often hilarious and funny,” she added giving insight into how the movie handled a serious subject in an easy way.
Shooting duration and the bond between their characters made the actors gel well with each other and they started improvising dialogues. Some of their impromptu dialogues were so candid that the director Jose Sebastian retained them in the theatre version. “I was surprised when I actually saw those scenes during dubbing,” said Tovino.
“I think Jose enjoyed making this movie. There was always a curiosity in his face like he was keenly watching for those extra bits from us,” he added.
Both the actors had only good words about their director.
“Jose was my brother’s senior at the engineering college. After that he went to Australia to study filmmaking. In fact the screenplay of 'Ente Ummante Peru' was submitted as a final project for his course in Australia. It was greatly appreciated there,” Tovino revealed.
“Jose narrated the script to me, around 4 years ago. I was at a location when he came with the script. Even though he didn’t know me personally, he had lots of confidence when he came for the narration. I decided to do it then and there. I promised him that I would do the movie whenever he makes it. One of Jose’s impressive qualities is that he firmly believes in achieving his goals. Every year Jose would remind me about the movie,” said Urvashi.
Jose caught up with Tovino while his father was in the ICU. “I met him at the Indian Coffee House outlet near the hospital. I sat down premeditated that I will somehow reject him. Jose came with a notebook in which he had written down every single detail about Hameed including the way he sits, the colour of his dress, or the colour of the walls in his room. I realized that he wasn’t someone to be taken lightly. I immediately said ‘yes’,” said Tovino.
Among the young band of actors in Mollywood, Tovino is known for portraying the guy-next-door characters effortlessly. However, Urvashi, who have acted with most of the top south Indian actors known for their ability to handle humour on screen, showered praise on Tovino for pulling off scenes with comic elements with ease.
“To be honest, you have the potential to act in foreign movies. I am not appreciating but criticizing you for not utilising it. An actor’s greatest charm is his ability to transform into characters. I think Mammokka has that talent. His personality would match with all the characters that he essays on screen. One thing I noticed while doing this movie is that you do not have to make an effort to be witty on screen. Humour suits you well. It comes naturally to you,” Urvashi said.
Staying true to his modest self, Tovino passed the credit of his performance to his co-actors. “Whenever I act alongside talented artists, I yearn to be as impressive as them. I feel that I get better when I act along with senior artists,” said Tovino.
“I am a simpleton who roams around Irinjalakkuda. It is only now that I got the opportunities to act in the movies of a few senior directors. When I made my entry into the movies, I mostly did films directed by new filmmakers.”
Agreeing to the fact, Urvashi said that performance of co-actors influence even seasoned actors.
“I still believe that my role in 'Achuvinte Amma' wouldn’t have been good, had it was someone else in place of Meera Jasmine. Acting has a unique rhythm and chemistry as well,” said Urvashi.
Urvashi, who enjoys a rare on-screen chemistry with Kamal Haasan, said she enjoyed same ease of working while acting along with Tovino.
“A movie is always connected to our soul until it is completed. I never acted in this movie thinking that I am acting with a rising star. Many ask me why it is so successful when I act alongside Kamal sir. That is because he lives as that character. With you, I could deliver a soulful performance,” Urvashi said.
The success mantra
'Ente Ummante Peru' is special to Tovino for another reason - it is the 'U' certified Tovino-movie hitting theatres after a brief gap. Tovino was sure that the movie will be accepted by families and fans alike even before its release. “I was really tensed when 'Theevandi' was released. I wasn’t sure how the audiences were going to react to it. I wasn’t worried at all when I did 'Godha' as I was sure that the people would love it. I felt the same kind of assurance while doing this movie as well,” he said.
Urvashi attributed the success of 'Ente Ummante Peru' to its theme. “In my opinion, relationships between mother, children or siblings wouldn’t change, no matter what. Films which narrate such stories would always be a success.”
Kiss of Tovino
The discussion soon waded into lip lock controversies circling Tovino, and Urvashi came out strong in support of the young actor.
“As far as lip lock scenes are concerned, it was something which was effortlessly done on screen by actors like Kamal sir. He kissed on screen even when Bollywood was shy to show such scenes in their films. Moreover, this is where the ‘kiss of love’ happened, isn’t it?” asked Urvashi.
Tovino, however, could not hold back his frustration over the whole affair.
“I have acted in at least 25 films. I did lip-lock scenes in just two or three films. I wonder whether people should really be bothered about it. It is just another scene like a fight or emotional scenes. The audience, who applaud when a hero thrashes or kills a villain can’t bear a scene where an actor kisses an actress. It is immediately branded as a movie which is not suitable for family audience,” said Tovino.
Tovino had some important questions for those who made hue and cry over the matter accusing him of spoiling youth.
“Is it right to accuse that those films would ruin youngsters? If this kiss alone can make them deviant, isn’t that fake morality? I act in such scenes because the situation demands it, and definitely not to make the movie more ‘spicy’. Can you imagine those scenes without the lip-lock scenes? Shouldn’t I do it for the perfection of the movie? People want their hero to eliminate the villain and he is justified to use any means for that. But they are not ready to accept that kiss is a tool to depict depth love between two characters,” said Tovino.
Urvashi shared some very personal experiences to tell the her young co-star how futile it is to try to change those with a traditional mind set.
“Even earlier, such scenes made people edgy, especially when kids were around. That must be the reason why people are against the movies which has a kissing scene in it. I grew up in a joint family. We used to bring video cassettes of movies and watch it at home. English movie 'King Kong' had a few such scenes. So my brother watched it beforehand at one of his friends’ place to mark those scenes. He would then fast forwarded it while playing it at home. It was only later that we could understand his dilemma,” Urvashi said.
“I still remember when my father hit Kalpana chechi when she spoke about ‘love’. She must have been around 12 at that time. Kalpana chechi was actually narrating the story of a Sivaji Ganesan movie. When she said that he loved a girl and all that, my father heard this and immediately asked what love was. Chechi told that two people would love deeply and finally marry each other. My father hit her when she said that. That is how our generation was,” Urvashi said.
They wound up the talk on a serious question from Urvashi: “I think it would take us a lot more time to move forward from there, doesn’t it Tovi?” Though it sounded half directed towards Tovino and half to herself, it was actually a question thrown at the society.