In movie industry looks can make or mar you, they say. What is commonly referred to as 'good looks' may not fetch aspiring actors a role.
And then, there are unconventional roles which often go to those who aren't bothered about looks.
“Guess you are not bothered about the looks,” asks Shane Nigam's character Bobby in the movie Kumbalangi Nights to his friend's fiancee.
Pat comes the reply: Who said. Please keep the shades. Don't you think he has the side face like that of actor Vinayakan?
Writer Shyam Pushkaran is getting applauds for his brilliant script of Kumbalangi Nights which is easily relatable.
Bobby's friend in the movie is Suraj for whom the character was tailor made.
Onmanorama caught up with the actor who is indeed a lookalike of the 2017 State award winner Vinayakan. Excerpts.
D for Dance
Suraj, who knew Shyam Pushkaran, exudes an air of excitement as he narrates how he happened to land a role.
“Basically I am part of a dance troop called D-company and I am a performer. I have done dance performances for shows like D 4 Dance. I was interested in dance since 14-15 years of age and thus took up this as my profession,” he said. During such an event, Suraj met Pushkaran, who put in a word for the role in Kumbalangi.
The crew first auditioned him and then producer Dileesh Pothen too later guided him on sets.
Being a Thevara native, it was quite easy for him to get into the skin of a Kumbalangi character. “All Shyam asked me was to be as I am. Because I don't have to bring any kind of drama and it should be as natural as it could be. So it was not at all hard for me as I used the same slang as I have.”
But it was not a shoe in for Suraj as had to adapt with the twists of the movie as well.
Who will buy a tea shop to have tea? Bobby asks his friend in the movie in a particular scene.
“I had to change all my body language I had before that scene and had to switch to someone who will lead his Bobby's character to another level,” Suraj said.
Suraj stated it was that scene which was kind of a challenge for him. But fortunately, the scene was okayed by the team within two shots.
“After delivering my dialogue as a reply to Shane and when the director called cut, the entire crew clapped and I was surprised and amazed with that response”.
After that scene, Shyam told me: “If you had failed in this, I too would have failed. But now, you have won. Wonderful job.”
The Vinayakan encounter
Although the film refers Suraj's appearance to that of Vinayakan, the actor mentioned it was not first time he had been referred so.
“I had been to the sets of Iyobinte Pusthakam, which was also written by Shyam Pushkaran and directed by Amal Neerad. I always had this huge admiration for Vinayakan as he too came into movies as a background dancer which is quite similar to mine”.
So it was only natural for Suraj and Vinayakan to strike a rapport.
“I even told him how people used to tell me that I have his looks. I told how I look up to him to grow as an actor and he would laughingly reply: “No, no how can I be like you,” Vinayakan would tease me.
“So now, the dialogue has been perfectly placed and it's definitely a proud moment when I am compared with an actor like him. All his characters, including Kammatipaadam, inspired me a lot,” he added.
The reel-to-real love affair
The character in the movie Suraj played gave importance to the one who loved him.
Suraj is married to Manju. It was also a love marriage.
“I went for a song-dance show in Palakkad. We were fronted by a big crowd and that's when she came and met me. She wanted me to teach dance to her sister's kid and thus gave me her contact. That's how the relationship developed and we both fell for each other,” he said.
There was opposition from Manju's family, but Suraj was supported to the hilt by his kith and kin.
“So with my mother and aunt, I went to her house in Vadakancherry, Palakkad and took her along. Now, we are blessed with two little daughters and she never hesitates to encourage me in every way”.
“I am glad that I got one like her in my life just like a supporting partner you see in the film,” he said.
Incidentally, the character was visualised by Shyam with Suraj in mind.
Life after Kumbalangi Nights has definitely changed for Suraj. “As soon as the movie was over, few many people came, asking me to pose for selfies. That was an overwhelming feeling. The night the movie got released, I couldn't sleep as I was too overjoyed.”
And what next? Suraj just tells us that he met a director. Nothing more, nothing less.