Gautam Kurup, a new villain in Malayalam and Tamil cinema, doubles as a line producer in the Capital
Gautam Kurup has been playing something of a double role in real life. While one sees him in front of the camera, often as a trouble maker, the other requires him to be behind the camera, as the trouble shooter.
Making his debut with a short Hindi film called Murdering Innocents in 2009, Kurup went on to act in Kandahar, a Malayalam film, and the Tamil Thuppakki, starring Vijay, in subsequent years. He has two releases lined up for later this year — Salaam Kashmir and Puthiya Thiruppangal in Malayalam and Tamil respectively.
Interestingly, all five films feature Kurup in a negative role. He doesn’t understand why, but is happy to go with the flow. “I go with an open mind and send pictures to everybody hoping they will make me the hero… But it’s not always possible. The good thing is, without the bad guy the good guy cannot be there,” he says. “But I do want to play more author backed roles.”
A career in acting marks the realisation of a lifelong dream. “I wanted to be an actor from the age of 5, so I used to watch every film possible,” he says. Having spent a part of his early life in Mumbai, Kurup grew up on a diet of Bollywood, idolising Vinod Khanna for his ability to play protagonist and antagonist with equal ease, and later Mithun Chakravarty and Shah Rukh Khan for having created an identity for themselves out of nothing.
Coming from a family that had practically no connection with films, Kurup did not have it easy. After several futile rounds of the studios in Mumbai, he realised that “the best way was to start working behind the camera.”
That marked the beginning of his career as a line producer. “In hierarchy, a line producer comes right after the executive producer. He takes care of the logistics of shooting, right from permissions, clearances and travel arrangements to handling innumerable egos on the sets…You have various people coming in. Sometimes the language is a barrier; some of the props go by different names in different languages, so it becomes a problem. So it’s a very tough task but I really enjoy it,” he explains.
Kurup handles productions for South Indian films in Delhi mainly, but also in Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan. Although he started out in Mumbai, he realised very early that opportunities there were few and far between, even for a line producer. Around the same time, Southern movies had started looking at North India as a new market. This condition proved ideal for Kurup, fluent in Hindi, apart from Malayalam and Tamil, who moved his business to Delhi in the early 1990s.
“South films are now being dubbed in Hindi, and coming out to a larger market. For example, Thuppakki released in Bhatinda. While shooting for Sahasam (a recent Telugu film) in Delhi, the hero Gopichand was mobbed by fans. The Hindi movie channels play dubbed South Indian films daily. Ready, Wanted, Bodyguard are originally not in Hindi, and you find people here going back to the original just to see the differences,” he says.
Given this increasing interest in regional films in the Capital, Kurup is happy that he hasn’t been discovered yet. His films down South may have brought him recognition and a growing fan following, but he is happy to be away from it all in Delhi, where his family and business are. “There I need to maintain a decorum, and cannot be caught unawares. In Delhi, I have my own space. I can go out to the market in my shorts and T-shirt and not worry yet about people recognising me.”