Actor Vinay Kumar is all set to share screen space with Naseeruddin Shah in Blueberry Hunt

Young and promising actor Vinay Kumar is all excited about his forthcoming film, ‘Blueberry Hunt’, in which he stars with none other than Naseeruddin Shah.

Vinay met Shah first through actor Benjamin Gilani during his days at the Film Institute in Pune. He idolises the seasoned actor, but acting with the thespian has left him star struck.

An incident on the sets had a strange effect on the budding actor. In an action scene Vinay, a sharp shooter, is poised to press the trigger on Shah. But at that precise moment, he says, Shah cast a gimlet eye and he could feel penetrative rays emitting from the actor’s deep-set eyes. “It was an unforgettable moment, a surreal experience,” he says. The three day togetherness on the sets has been more than a learning experience for the young man. Shah is a “mountain” of skill and craft and a very warm person, says Vinay.

In Sibi Malayil’s ‘Apoorvaragam’ Vinay gave an impressive performance as Narayanan, one of the three criminals. This was followed by small, but crucial roles in ‘Ritu’, ‘Veeraputhran’, ‘Chatak’ (a Hindi film) and a few other films. Currently, Vinay is enjoying playing the role of an auto rickshaw driver in Joy Mathew’s ‘Shutter’.

Passion for acting

Vinay entered cinema via theatre. The 27-year-old, who studied at John De Britto at Fort Kochi, was always drawn to the stage. He began by performing in street plays. Despite complete apathy shown by his teachers towards his interest Vinay remained determined. He was lucky to get complete support from his parents and hence joined a travelling theatre group called Balasangham. They held performances during Onam. “I used to really enjoy these,” he recalls. By then he was sure of his calling, but was at a loss to pursue it owing to lack of guidance.

It was a few years later that he was selected to perform in plays at the district level. His canvas grew bigger. He joined theatre group Lokadharmi Centre For Performing Arts. “Here I got a sense of identity,” he says. Questions regarding his artistic heritage, his culture became clearer. He learnt about Greek and Sanskrit plays. He bloomed as an actor and as a man. However, the going was tough, he recalls. Working simultaneously as a salesman and a medical representative, Vinay doggedly pursued his interest.

Tryst with theatre

Lokadharmi performances took him to the national capital. He was awarded the Best Senior Theatre Actor Scholarship by the Central Government in 2004. This gave a fillip to his confidence. In an acting class in Thiruvananthapuram, Vinay was noticed for his histrionics by his teacher Chandramohan, who was a faculty member of Film Institute, Pune. Encouraged by his teacher who saw him in a performance at Soorya festival, Vinay came up trumps at the Film Institute selection and interview. He played the role of Karna in Karnabharam and had the selectors spellbound.

With recognition came the chance to interact with great teachers like Tom Alter and Uday Chandra. “I could sense the aura of good, great teachers. They are so selfless…” Here he was exposed to world cinema.

Intense roles

After a few exhilarating years in Pune, Vinay dreams to make a mark in Malayalam films. He has always been called upon to play difficult, sensitive roles, which he has delivered with aplomb. In Shyamaprasad’s ‘Ritu’, he played a significant role of a homosexual. “I am not typically good looking,” says Vinay, modestly lamenting the fact that intense roles have typecast him as “a clichéd villain”. “I am tired of intense roles…I would like to do some running around trees …. I would like to sing a song...,” he says eagerly.

And that role would be worth waiting for, from an actor who has shown mettle in the limited exposure that he has received so far.