Irshad, a familiar face in art house movies, gets his big break in Priyanandanan's ‘Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku.'

Over the years, cinema, like literature and fine arts, has had to face the onslaught of revivalism that has deemed certain topics such as religion beyond the realm of discussion or creative expression.

Given the sensitive nature of these subjects, shooting a full-length feature film that is a satire on the emergence of demi-gods in the State must be seen as a bold act. But that's exactly what national award-winning filmmaker Priyanandanan has attempted in his film ‘Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku,' which was released last Friday.

Despite multi-starrers ruling the roost, the film had a reasonably good opening in Kerala. The protagonists, played by Kavya Madhavan and Irshad, narrate the story of a self-declared demi-god and her alcoholic husband.

Dream role

For actor Irshad, his role in ‘Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku' is a dream come true as this is his first mainstream film featuring him in the lead. “Irshad was the apt choice for enacting the role of Maruthapuram Viswan in the movie. And I know of his passion for good cinema,” director Priyanandanan testifies.

Remember Irshad's unforgettable role in ‘Paadam Onnu, Oru Vilapam' (directed by T.V. Chandran) as the selfish husband who tramples on the life and dreams of an effervescent Class 10 student Shahina, a character immortalised by Meera Jasmine? “I am still despised by viewers across the State for what I ‘did' to Shahina,” laughs Irshad.

“Being a part of parallel cinema has always come easy to me, perhaps because of my friends' circle in Thrissur,” he reasons. Irshad has acted in movies by acclaimed filmmakers such as Pavithran, T.V. Chandran, P.T. Kunjumuhammed, and K.R. Mohanan. “But with ‘Bhakthajanangalude Sraddhakku,' I have finally arrived in mainstream cinema and hope to stay put for many years,” he says.

Irshad's rich experience in theatre should stand him in good stead. His large joint family has also played a vital role in shaping the artiste in him.

Passion for cinema

“Cinema has always been a passion. I left my job to hunt for roles in movies. I must have knocked on the doors of each and every director in the industry, seeking a chance to act,” says Irshad. Finally, the actor debuted in Sibi Malayil's campus story ‘Pranayavarnangal.'

‘Garshom,' his first offbeat film, gave him a place in parallel cinema. Several significant roles in parallel cinema made him a well-known face in art house movies. ‘Paradesi' by Kunjumuhammed and ‘Madhyavenal' by Madhu Kaithapram were some of the films that showcased his acting prowess.

“Although it is a great honour to be a part of movies that make the rounds at film festivals across the world, it is quite limiting as an actor to be confined to art house movies. I know many of our mainstream actors are yearning to get a chance in a parallel movie, just for that elusive critical acclaim. But, in my case, I have been running from pillar to post for a role, any role, in so-called commercial movies!” admits the actor.

But Ishad's interests and commitments go beyond cinema. He had contested the block panchayat elections 10 years ago. Irshad was a participant in the anti-endosulfan campaign in Thrissur recently. He believes that film personalities can do a lot towards making a positive change in society. An avid reader, Irshad believes reading and observation are essential for any actor. He has published a number of haikus in leading Malayalam periodicals.

‘Yathra Thudarunnu,' a candid take on man-woman relationships, will be his next release, in which he stars with Lakshmi Gopalaswami. He also has a guest role in the Mammootty flick ‘Bombay March.'

So, is he keen on acting in languages other than Malayalam? “Yes, I would love to be a part of experimental cinema in Tamil too, and have been waiting for a suitable opening, just like I did for a chance in Malayalam films,” Irshad signs off.