Actor Aju Varghese talks about how friendship defines his career in Mollywood

For someone whose entry into movies was “purely accidental”, Aju Varghese seems to have found his footing in Mollywood by playing the second lead. Ever since he debuted with Vineeth Sreenivasan’s ode to friendship Malarvadi Arts Club back in 2010, the young actor has been giving some standout acts in films such as Sevenes, Doctor Love and Chapters, triumphing as the loveable Abdu, friend and confidant of hero Vinod (Nivin Pauly) in last year’s blockbuster Thattathin Marayathu, also directed by Vineeth. Aju is once again set to rock the screens in debut director Vinay Govind’s Kili Poyi, said to be Mollywood’s first ‘stoner’ film, which stars Asif Ali in the lead. The film releases on Friday.

“I have no qualms playing supporting roles. In fact, I think I am at my best in such roles as the friend/confidant/driver. I don’t think I will ever be hero material. On that note, nor do I want to be a hero, unless it’s a real character driven role that is tailored to suit my limited looks and limited histrionic skills. Get real! I don’t have the looks, the physique or the attitude to be the hero of a mass entertainer. At the end of the day, we are in the business of entertainment and I am here to entertain,” says Aju. Kili Poyi is Aju's 15th outing on screen.

In Kili Poyi Aju plays an ad guy named Hari, who along with Chacko (Asif Ali), his buddy and colleague at the firm, zoom off to Goa to forget – for a while, at least – their fire-breathing dragon of a boss, played by Sandra Thomas. As the duo quickly find out, what happens in Goa apparently doesn’t stay in Goa. “It’s about the carefree life of two irresponsible bachelors and their travails when responsibility finally catches up with them. How I wish my life was like theirs – to be footloose and fancy free! In real life I am not that cool or chilled out. I think I am more a mix of Abdu and Kuttu, my role in Malarvadi. More than a stoner flick, though, Kili Poyi is a movie about friendship,” says Aju. “It’s my kind of movie,” adds the Kochi-based actor.

Of course, it would be. After all, friendship is the cornerstone of Aju’s tryst with filmdom – it was his friendship with actor-director Vineeth, his college-mate at Hindustan College of Engineering, Chennai, that landed him the role of Kuttu in the first place. “I think Vineeth cast me because he wrote Kuttu with me in mind and not because I can act. My only tryst with acting was playing Lord Yama’s sidekick in a school play when I was in class five! But I have always dreamed of being in films. I actually thought that I’d end up on the technical side of filmmaking, maybe scriptwriting, direction… Then, seeing how technicians have to really slog it out, I figured acting was much easier,” says Aju.

“Friendship is very important to me. I am able to work so well with Vineeth and Nivin and now Vinay and Asif because we share a fantastic off-screen chemistry as well. They understand me. Moreover, they know what not to ask of me! ” adds Aju, his laughter infectious. But then he’s worked with industry veterans like director Joshiy (in Sevenes) as well… “It was great working with Joshiy sir. He is someone who knows his films and his characters inside out. And because of that it was easy to pick up on what he wanted of me. I’ve realised I am a director’s actor through and through,” says Aju.

Meanwhile, Aju’s propensity for friendship films continues. His next film, Paisa Paisa, directed by newcomer Prasanth Murali, with Indrajith and Mamta Mohandas in the lead, is set to release soon. “I’ve got a really interesting role in the film. This time it’s about the helplessness of friendship,” explains Aju, as he signs off.