Meet the young actors of Mollywood who have mastered the art of re-invention.

In an industry where new stars shine and fade away, these young heroes have carved out a niche for themselves with carefully planned makeovers. After making their presence felt as actors, they have revamped their style and tasted success in their new avatars. Here is a look at four of them.

Fahadh Faasil had a disastrous debut with his home production way back in 2002 and then went into oblivion. A decade later he is regarded as a sensation, perhaps when he decided to focus on acting only, presenting himself in amazingly original ways.

Kunchacko Boban was stuck with his image as the boy next-door or the chocolate hero for quite long. He took a break in between and has now made a comeback with some impressive roles that have bowled over the box office.

Indrajith came into the scene as a baddie and his stature took a positive turn some years later with his willingness to experiment. In the process he’s been displaying his considerable talent as a versatile actor.

Nivin Pauly may be pretty young in the industry, but he redesigned his image as a toughie after his initial films and has found acceptance as a handsome hero with a faithful fan following.

How easy was this facelift? The stars speak.

FAHADH FAASIL

“I am still the same person who did Kaiyethum Doorathu [his debut movie as hero]. Even now I make it a point to follow my gut feeling when it comes to choosing a script. I can go wrong anytime. I believe that it is all about perspectives – from the mindset that I have in committing a film to the mindset of the person who is coming to watch it,” says the actor, regarded as the ‘face of unconventional experiments’ in Malayalam.

Perhaps the early setbacks in his career have made him stronger because he is quite matter of fact about all the attention that he is getting now. “Honestly, I am feeling suffocated by all the attention. This industry is so uncertain and you wake up to be anything every morning. And I am aware about that,” he says. His characters are rooted and realistic. But he resists the eagerness to brand him as a ‘new generation hero’. “I don’t know what is so ‘new generation’ about my films. They are sincere films. I am only dealing with things that have already been dealt with by my seniors,” he adds.

KUNCHACKO BOBAN

He has been the quintessential lover boy in Malayalam films, ever since Aniyathipravu soared high on the strength of its story and young stars. But after a few years he faded out of the scene. In his second innings, Kunchacko Boban went for characters that were completely different from his ‘chocolate-hero’ tag.

His con-artiste in Gulumaal, his extraordinary act in Ordinary, Palunni of Elsamma Enna Aankutty, the villain in Seniors and the disgraced God man in the recent God for Sale: Daivam Vilppanakku and so on have been quite different from his usual screen image.

“I agree my career has had a makeover and it has been an exciting one as well. To a certain extent it was done deliberately but more than planning, it was thanks to the roles that were offered to me. I started experimenting with my looks and that has really helped me in the process,” he says.

He is delighted to have played a key role in Traffic; the film that became a trendsetter and, in a way, initiated the emergence of a new genre of films. “Traffic has also raised the bar for me, prompting me to choose films that are essentially off the beaten track. However, I am averse to films with explicit scenes and sleazy dialogues, which comes under this label at times,” explains Kunchacko.

INDRAJITH

Although his characters during his early years almost always had a tinge of grey, Indrajith has always resisted being typecast. Somewhere along the line, he discovered his knack to tickle the funny bone too and that has added to his popularity. “Actually I had played a rather funny guy in Mullavalliyum Thenmavum, but people started noticing me in such roles only after the tremendous success of Classmates,” says Indrajith.

After stellar acts in recent films such as Amen and Left Right Left, the actor is sizzling with excitement about his forthcoming M.T. Vasudevan Nair-Hariharan film Ezhamathe Varavu.

“There has been a definite change in the thinking of our viewers for sure during recent years. In fact, my offbeat films Nayakan or City of God would have done much better had they been released now,” he muses.

“Though at times we have to accept certain roles to stay in contention, I don’t want to be part of a movie just for the sake of it. I want to do convincing roles like some of the ones that I did during the past two years. All along, my focus was to be a good actor, not a hero,” says Indrajith.

NIVIN PAULY

“Just like any other actor, I am always looking forward to characters of varying shades. There was a bit of a confusion at the beginning of my career on the kind of image I was supposed to maintain on screen. Nowadays, I know how to present myself on screen,” says the young heartthrob, who has had a rather interesting makeover from a bearded, tough guy in Malarvady Arts Club to a clean-shaven college boy in Thattathin Marayathu, pretty early in his career.

He does not seem to be in a hurry to grab all the roles that come his way. “It is never easy for me to say yes to a project. Initially I believed that the director’s credentials is all what matters. Then I started counting on the technicians involved and finally on the script. But now I think a combination of it all makes a film tick,” he says.

Nivin is not particular about playing the hero but insists that his “role should have a definite significance.” I always dreamed about a career in the movies and yes, it is a good time to be an actor in Malayalam films right now, says Nivin.