Even though acting was a serendipitous career choice for Jinu Joseph, he says each role warrants his best
He is the reluctant actor. Jinu Joseph, the baddie in Big B, the gangster in Sagar Alias Jacky, the single father in Kerala Café, the cop in Anwar Ustad Hotel 24 North Kathaam… and yet Jinu, after recent appearances in 11 films, is coming to terms with his life as an actor. To be or not to be was once the young actor’s dilemma. After donning a few middling to fair roles with some noticeable performances, he now feels more confident to take the plunge completely and wholeheartedly into the film world.
“I had no intention whatsoever to be in films,” he says about his serendipitous entry into Mollywood. With a lucrative business in Dubai and an all-consuming passion for wildlife and environment, Jinu was happy at the way life was panning out, until Big B came about, out of the blue.
A chance encounter with his school friend Vinayakan in Fort Kochi, while the latter was shooting for Big B with Amal Neerad, brought the offer for the role of a professional killer. Jinu acted along with Mammooty and Nafisa Ali and was bitten by the acting bug. One of the reasons for him to join in was that he found the whole process “super interesting”. A reason to seek another film was that his debut role was so small that “if you reached out for popcorn you would miss me. I wanted to do one more film where viewers could see me,” he says with warm candour.
His second role as a gangster in Sagar Alias Jacky got him noticed and presented him with a small fan following. A fan declared his desire to wear clothes like the actor. For Jinu, fledgling in this world of arc lights, the excitement was overpowering. He wished to learn, see and experiment more. He resolved to take his part seriously and give good performances. “I began to work hard over a role,” he says and went on to give a quality performance in Kerala Café. In Anwar that followed he played a cop along with Prithviraj. Soon came a spate of action films beginning with Samir Tahir’s sleeper hit Chappa Kurishu, which in its own right was a turning point from the stable of new generation filmmakers.
The modern touch
Jinu fitted the spirit and essence of these new fangled films, with their fresh and peppy scripts, songs, costumes and stories. “I speak colloquial Malayalam, of a particular way, a Kochi style, which suits these nouveau films,” he says drawing his long salt-and-pepper hair to a knot.
Personally, he feels Big B was the turning point when Hollywood trends began entering Malayalam films. “It was a comfortable space for me,” he says stating it to be one of the reasons he chooses films that have a modern feel. After Chappa …Kurishu, where he was “most comfortable”, he decided to relocate to Kochi, from Dubai, and give himself to films.
Yet he seems to be dogged by a certain inhibition. “I get lots of offers that make me feel good but I am nervous to do a film outside my comfort zone,” he says explaining that comfort zone means being among people with whom he vibes well.
But Jinu draws the line clear and fine. Friends may have got him into films but on the sets he is a thorough professional. His small but important role in Eli, a short film by Alphons Puthran, he treasures because it needed a lot more acting skills. This was followed by a string of hits such as Ustad Hotel, Bachelor Party, D Company, North 24 Kaatham. In the road movie Neelaakasham…, Jinu plays a motorcyclist, where his wife Leah was his “biker girl”. Neelaksham…bhoomi 24 North Kathaam. He talks about working with different directors and their varied working styles. “I have not deviated from who I am; I am letting it all happen organically, just as it comes. Cinema seems to be taking to me and I am looking forward,” he says disclosing little about a period film that he has just signed.