Veteran actor Indrans is the new ambassador of Malayalam cinema worldwide. After recently bagging the prestigious 'Outstanding artistic achievement' award at the Shanghai International Film Festival for his exceptional performance in Dr Biju's directorial 'Veyilmarangal,' he returned to Kerala and quickly got busy with new movie projects. Indrans has a few releases lined up for the second half of the year, including 'Muhabbathin Kunjabdulla,' 'Makkana,' and 'Janamaithri.'
The state award-winning actor has played over 300 characters in his 38-year-long movie career, but the role of 'Kunjabdulla' in 'Muhabbathin Kunjabdulla' posed him a challenge for a touching reason. This movie directed by debutant director Shanu Samad was initially planned with late actor KTC Abdullah in the lead role. After shooting a couple of scenes, Abdullah was hospitalised and subsequently he died. The movie project, which was infinitely postponed after Abdullah's demise, was later revived with Indrans taking up the late actor's role. Indrans feared whether Abdullah's soul would forgive him for replacing him in the movie.
The actor opens up about his concerns, joys and dreams in a candid chat with Onmanorama.
Your character in Muhabbathin Kunjabdulla...
Kunjabdulla, though old, is very romantic. He fled from his hometown at a very young age, after getting into some trouble. Later, he returns to his native place in his old age, wishing to reunite with his dear ones. He travels from one end of the state to the other --- Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod --- in search of love. He stays at certain places, falls in love with the people and culture there and moves on without sticking to a single place. The story develops through the journey of Kunjabdulla in pursuit of love.
What hooked you most in this movie?
I had high expectations about this movie right from the time it was announced. I was not associated with this project back then. It was planned as a movie with KTC Abdullah, our dear late actor, in the lead role. The movie excited every one who knew Abdullah personally. He is a mentor to many artists in the Malayalam film industry. Unfortunately, our happiness was short-lived. He fell ill after working for just four or five days for this movie. He passed away after a brief stay in the hospital.
Abdullah's dreams grew in size as he grew old. The veteran stage actor had such unbounded fascination for movies. To play a lead character in a movie should have been his long-time dream. After his death, his role somehow came to me. I was afraid to commit to it at first. What would Abdullah's soul think? Would my performance disappoint him? Or would he support me? I was in a dilemma.
What hooked me to this movie was its enticing story-line. The story would tempt any passionate actor to grab a role in it at any cost. A lot of characters, places and cultures are featured in this movie. I discussed my concerns with several intimate friends of Abdullah. All of them encouraged me to take up this character. Now, after finishing the production schedules successfully, I believe I had devoted myself to this project with Abdullah's whole-hearted permission and will.
Your experience at the Shanghai Film Festival...
I felt like I was lost in a dream. I am nervous to socialise with people speaking other languages. I don't know any language other than Malayalam. I realised many people who had gathered there from different parts of the world too had this issue. Many artists and technicians hailing from foreign countries spoke with me with sheer nervousness which I also had. As we were in the same boat, it was not difficult to mingle with them after getting over the initial unease. Anyway, I enjoyed the culture, food, nature and the people of China.
What was your experience of falling in love?
I still do not know that. I am still clueless what I was doing in an age I was supposed to fall in love. After education, I quickly got busy with my job, which is tailoring. I had big responsibilities to meet at home. I was also passionate about theatre. Somehow I missed finding a true love myself amid profession, passion and life responsibilities.
My wife Shantakumari came to my life through a well-arranged marriage. Finding a perfect match to a person like me was a hard task for my parents and relatives. But later on, I started regretting about losing a beautiful youth without experiencing romance. I still regret missing out that phase of life.
Now, I find time to learn about people, their culture, personality and to love them unconditionally. In my view, love is purity of thoughts. I don't know how to explain it but I know that true love is filled with goodness. That is exactly what Kunjabdulla says in this movie.
Has your slender body build limited you from performing or taking up certain characters?
I had mistaken my body as a limitation in the beginning of my career. I have tried several ways to nourish and build it. I have failed to perform the roles of a serious police officer or a doctor on stage due to my slender frame. Later I realised that it is passion that matters, not body type.
Yet, I agree that a good body, sound and other physical features are positive attributes to any actor. To me, it is my passion and fascination that helped realise my dreams. It did not happen over night. The change was brought over a long period of time, by my age and experience. It was a long wait. I handle the new phase in my career with extreme care.
How do you switch between characters while working simultaneously in different movies?
I play the role of a daily-wage labourer in the movie 'Makkana.' In 'Janamaithri', I am a policeman. At the same time, I play the role of an old man in 'Kunjabdulla'. All three are completely different and unique characters. I have to keep the nature of my body in mind while performing them. My performance shouldn't exceed the needs of these characters. It is a hard task, indeed. The policeman in 'Janamaithri' handles humour freely. Kunjabdulla too manages to smile amid his anxieties and solitude. On the other hand, the labourer in 'Makkana 'is a serious man, who cannot smile at all due to his adverse circumstances.
Which character was a turning point in your career?
I am still waiting for such a strong character. I have imagined performing certain characters I have come across in books, epics and legends. I am yet to explore such diverse characters which require extensive physical and mental preparations. I look forward to overcome the limitations of my body by playing such characters.
Can you imagine myself playing the roles of Lord Krishna, Jesus Christ, or Shakuni from the Mahabharatha? I really want to perform such powerful characters with this body! (laughs.)
Are you still into tailoring?
Why not?! Like singing a song, listening to a soothing music track or reading a book, tailoring is my favourite hobby. It is the first skill that came to me. I shall not leave it behind. I refresh my mind and relax by stitching some clothes on my sewing machine.