Actor Nivin Pauly is basking in the success of two back-to-back blockbusters. His latest outing, 'Mikhael', is running into packed houses garnering positive reviews. The actor, in a candid chat with Onmanorama, speaks about his experiences in the movie and also about his future projects.
Your latest movie 'Mikhael' is having a great run at the box office. What do you have to say about it?
I am extremely happy to know that the audience has accepted the movie. Each film is the result of a collective effort and hard work. From the director and the producer to the actors, a lot of hard work goes behind a movie. I do every movie hoping that the audience would love it. So I feel happy and elated when our efforts are paid off.
Did you commit to 'Mikhael' to transform your image into a mass hero?
I didn’t do this movie with an intention to change my image into a mass hero. Director Haneef Adeni had told me a story of the relationship between a brother and sister. It is the tale of an elder brother who sets out to protect his sister when she encounters a problem. Everyone knows Haneef’s unique style of filmmaking. The action sequences were taken in the style of a revenge drama.
Did you enjoy performing the stunts? How was your experience working with Unni Mukundan?
There are lots of action scenes in this movie. The ones shot at the college are all done in unique style. The fight scene between Unni and me, in the climax portion, was conceptualised in a different way initially, and was later changed to the one that you see in the movie. Unni is a good friend of mine. It was in 'Vikramadityan' that we came together for the first time. I did a cameo appearance in that film. Unni is crazy about fight sequences. He is an actor who loves doing action movies.
Would you have accepted the offer to play the villain in 'Mikhael'?
I really like to play villain roles in movies. However, Unni’s character called Marco Junior could have been done only by him. I don’t think I could have pulled off the role better than him.
What are the factors that you consider while choosing movies?
Every actor tries to do unique roles in each movie. We are also eager to choose movies of different genres as well. 'Mikhael' doesn’t have any similarities to 'Kayamkulam Kochunni'. Similarly, 'Love Action Drama', in which I am currently acting, is nothing like 'Mikhael'. I try to do different kinds of films.
What kind of movies do you prefer to do?
I love to do humor. But you just can’t keep doing only a single genre of films in your career. An actor should do movies in different genres, and work with film makers who have varied making styles. The real performer within us can grow only if we do both small and big movies. I think the actors shouldn’t get too comfortable with a particular genre of films or be stuck in their comfort zones. The filmmakers and producers are trying to show their versatility by making different kinds of movies. I too am interested to portray different types of characters on screen. However, I do have a special inclination towards humorous roles.
How do you handle success and failures?
Usually it is easy to assume whether a film will become a success. We are aware, while making a movie, that it would satisfy a particular group of audience and hence turn successful. If it is a hit, then the producer could earn profits, and it would be beneficial for the director and the actors as well. Every movie is created with such an intention, right? We gain confidence when our movies are successful. We realise that our decisions were right and analyse the factors which made it a success.
In case of failures too, we would examine the reasons for it. There is no point in getting dejected when the movies fail to deliver or rejoice when they are successful. Be happy when you succeed and try to learn from failures. Try not to repeat the same mistakes in the next projects as well.
How do you evaluate your achievements in the last 10 years?
While doing my first movie, I had no idea what would happen after that. I wasn’t even sure whether I could make a career in the movies. I am someone who came to the film industry without having any sort of idea about it. It would take a while to learn how to choose a movie wisely or the kind of roles that you should play on screen. Similarly it takes some time to realise the positive and negative aspects of the artiste in you. Now I am able to evaluate my positives and negatives. I don’t think I have achieved incredibly well in the movies. There are much more to do, if I go forward, by the grace of Lord. I hope that everything happens so.
You debuted through the movie directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan and now you are acting in one directed by (his brother) Dhyan. Isn’t it an interesting coincidence?
Of course, it is. This is Dhyan’s first movie as a director. He has written the script of 'Love Acton Drama' amazingly well. It is a thorough entertainer which gives prominence to humour. The filming of the movie is progressing well. All our friends are on the set. The camera is cranked by Jomon T John and the music is by Shaan Rahman. I began my career along with them and I personally feel very close to this movie as all of us have reunited in it.
Your contemporaries Karthik Subbaraj, Vijay Sethupathy, Bobby Simha and Alphonse Puthren are all doing well in cinema? How do you observe their growth in the industry?
I was close friends with Karthik, Vijay, Bobby and Alphonse when I used to stay in Chennai to do a few short films. All of them are active in the films. I had called Karthik after watching 'Petta'. That movie has turned out so well. Bobby too is a dear friend. The scripting of Alphonse’s next movie is progressing. Everyone is achieving greater heights in their own ways.
Why didn’t you commit any movie in Tamil after 'Richie'?
I wanted to do more movies in Tamil after 'Richie'. However, 'Kayamkulam Kochunni'’s filming didn’t wrap up as we had planned. It took almost 9 months for the shooting to get over. As a result, my other movies in Malayalam too got postponed. 'Love Action Drama' was supposed to be shot last year. But we could only complete a schedule of it. Now we have resumed its filming. A few good films came my way in the midst of filming 'Kayamkulam Kochunni'. But I couldn’t allot any dates for them. When a group of people were waiting to make as big a movie as 'Kayamkulam Kochunni', trusting me, I didn’t feel like taking up another project. We would miss some movies while we choose to say ‘yes’ to some others. I have at least missed one or two movies like that.
Do you prefer doing movies made by your friends?
I am not particular that I would do only those movies made by my friends. However, it makes me happy doing such films. There is a unique vibe when I am doing their movies. We should be able to feel a special vibe with it when we hear a script. I usually commit a movie when everything, like a good script, amazing crew and production and distribution, fall into the right place. No one can predict, before the release of a movie, whether it would run for 100 or 150 days at the box office. It is the audience who decide that. We should be able to offer different and unique movies to the audience.
When will you direct a movie?
Direction is not a trivial job. It requires great knowledge and skill. I wish to continue like this. I don’t contemplate turning to direction.
What lesson did the movie 'Action Hero Biju' teach you?
'Action Hero Biju' taught me that each movie should be marketed based on its content. The audience got an impression, from its title, that it was an action movie. Those who had gone to the theaters expecting an action movie, however, experienced a different genre of movie. That movie had garnered mostly negative responses, in the first week of its release, from the theatres. But it gained momentum in the weeks that followed. Every movie would experience such highs and lows when they are released. Sometimes, the theatres would be empty in the first few days and then the audience would rush in later. In some other cases, the theatres would be full for the first 10 days or so and then the crowds disappear. This is how we learn new things after each movie hits the screen.
How is the experience working with South Indian diva Nayanthara?
I haven’t shot any combination scene with Nayanthara yet. We just did one scene together and it took so long to can it. I am a person who could easily go into a laughing spree. Nayanthara is just ahead of me when it comes to laughing out. It took more than two hours to shoot a scene as we couldn’t stop laughing, while saying the dialogues. With hands on his chin, Dhyan was helplessly watching us laugh away. He had told us to keep aside our ‘laughter’ when we come in for the next schedule.
What are your upcoming projects?
After 'Love Action Drama', I would be doing a movie directed by Rajeev Ravi. The title of the movie is 'Thuramugam' and its discussions and pre-production works are underway. The rest of the projects aren’t confirmed yet.
Tell us about your forthcoming movie 'Moothon'.
Moothon is currently being screened at many film festivals. The movie will be released during the first half of this year. More than enjoying it, the character in 'Moothon' is the one which allowed me to delve deep into a movie. Geethu Mohandas is the best among the filmmakers that I have worked with so far. She is a director who clearly knows how to extract the best performance from an actor. The way in which she explains scenes, not only to me but also to all the other actors in the movie, is really impressive. We feel inspired to do better. I haven’t watched that movie yet, but I am eagerly waiting to.
On the tenth year of your acting career, what do you have to say to the audience?
It is the audience’s continued support which forms the foundation for every actor. You have amazingly encouraged me all these years. I may have made mistakes or chosen unimpressive roles. These could happen to anyone. An actor’s life is a combination of successes and failures. I have been able to head forward because of the good audience who point out the mistakes and also encourage me incredibly. I hope you would continue supporting me like this.