It’s his toothy smile that endeared S.P. Sreekumar to television audiences. But the actor, who shot to fame as goofy Lolithan, one of the main characters in ‘Marimayam’, a popular comedy series on Mazhavil Manorama, has, of late, proven that flashing his pearly whites and his comic timing are not his only selling points. Sreekumar has wowed audiences with standout performances in movies as varied as Papilo Buddha, ABCD and Memories. The Thiruvananthapuram-based actor talks about his relatively short journey from the small screen to the silver screen. Excerpts…
All for acting
I have always been passionate about acting. Even when I was in school (St. Joseph’s School, Thiruvananthapuram), cultural activities came before studies. I used to act in dramas and participate in dance and music shows. All my memories of school revolve around the school auditorium. To further pursue my interest in the arts, I studied music at the Sree Swati Tirunal College of Music and later took part in a couple of reality shows. I was the first runner-up on ‘Mammootty-The Best Actor’ (2009), a reality show aired on Asianet, which more or less set the ball rolling for my career.
My first role on television was in ‘Chirikidathom’ on Amrita TV. But it was ‘Marimayam’ that changed my fortunes. In fact, the show has given a new lease of life to the careers of just about every actor in it. We are all busy with our film careers now, but whenever we all get time, we try to can a few episodes. The show is shot in sync sound, and a huge percentage of its success, I believe, is because of the camaraderie among the actors and our equation with director, Unnikrishnan. It’s all about give and take on the show; we all draw off each other’s strengths.
Flair for comedy
I don’t know if I have a flair for comedy as such. I just go with the flow. I feel that an actor should be comfortable with any role, be it comedy or serious roles. I believe the support of fellow actors and the director is very important to do a role convincingly. In ‘Marimayam’, for instance, I am able to come up with witty dialogues and repartees because my fellow actors enable me to do so with their own humour-filled takes.
In tinsel town
Tinsel town was always my destination. That’s why I limited myself to just one TV serial, even though I got many offers. My first role in a film was in Sohan Roy’s Dam 999 and afterwards I had starred in bit roles in films such as Kandahar, in which I played a military cadet, Veeraputhran, Kunjaliyan, Puthiya Theerangal, and so on. Since Jayan K. Cherian’s controversial Papilio Buddha (2013), [in which Sreekumar plays the lead role of a tribal youth, Sankaran, who becomes romantically involved with Jack, an American lepidopterist] I’ve been getting interesting roles.
Martin Parakkat’s ABCD was my first mainstream hit. My character in the film talks with a Fort Kochi brogue – something that’s alien to me. I actually went on the streets of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry to understand the accent. Martin told me that he wanted my signature smile but on a completely different scale from Lolithan’s antics. In Jeethu Joseph’s Memories, I play the villain. The smile was sinister this time around. Actor Vijayaraghavan, who incidentally I had never met before the shoot, suggested my name for the role.
I’ve got a two or three offers for lead roles from Tamil films, which seem to have interesting stories and much potential for the actor in me. I’m trying to do as varied roles as possible, though I keep getting offers for Lolithan-like characters. I don’t want to be typecast.