A Roman holiday

Saraswathy Nagarajan
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Chat Kunchacko Boban is going places in his second innings in Mollywood. His first release this year is Boban Samuel’s Romans, in which he has teamed up with Biju Menon. The actor says there are many projects that he is looking forward to in 2013. Saraswathy Nagarajan

Kunchacko Boban had an extraordinary on-screen journey in 2012 with some plum roles and unexpected hits. In fact, this affable actor has been part of the so-called ‘New Gen’ films in Mollywood, right from the sleeper hit Traffic , which put his career on the fast lane in tinsel town. During the roller-coaster ride from his first film, Aniathipravu in 1997, to Elsamma Enna Aaankutty in 2010, Kunchacko discarded his chocolate hero image and proved his versatility in a spectrum of roles that proved his talent as an actor of substance. This week, he appears in Boban Samuel’s Romans , along with Biju Menon, his co-star in Ordinary . The two struck a rapport with viewers with their double act in a couple of movies that spun gold at the box office.

However director Boban says that he had this pair in mind much before the two embarked on their extra- Ordinary journey last year. “Kunchacko was working in a film Sandwich , and that was when I narrated the story of Romans . I had a hunch that he would click with Biju Menon in a double act. Although the two of them agreed to act in my movie, I took some time to get the film rolling and that is when Ordinary turned them into a hit pair. I guess that was a lucky turn of events,” says Boban.

Romans , according to the director, is a mix of humour, suspense and a dash of horror too. “The two friends bring about a change in the village and the villagers and in turn their lives too take a turn for the better.” Niveda Thomas, whom we saw in Veruthe Oru Bharya and as the young Grace in Blessy’s Pranayam plays the female lead in this film, her first as the leading lady in Malayalam.

Romans has Kunchacko and Biju playing jail birds who escape and reach a village where the unsuspecting villagers take them to be priests from Rome. “That is why the film is called Romans . A series of events that take place after their arrival bring about a change in their outlook towards life and society,” says Kunchacko over the phone from Puthuvypeen, where the actor is shooting for Three Dots , directed by Sugeeth, who had also made Ordinary . Three Dots also stars Kunchacko with Biju along with Pratap Pothen and Narain in significant roles.

Taking a dig at their successful double act Kunchacko says that they complement each other. “In most our outings together, our roles play a balancing act. To his rough and tough characters, my characters bring in a simplicity and naivety that kind of complements his roles.” He adds with a chuckle: “Moreover, I claim that we click with viewers because Biju has the height and weight while I have the intelligence and charm.”

Kunchacko believes that a film like Ordinary charmed the viewers because the film offered them something more than what they expected. He feels that Romans has that unexpected plus to woo the audience. On the anvil is Rajesh Pillai’s new film Motorcycle Diaries , which, the actor clarifies, has nothing to do with the famous movie on Che Guevara. “I play a challenging role in this film and I am happy that Rajesh gave me such a meaty role. It is a story about a man and his bike. He acquires it in his youth and then we see the bike’s place in his life as he ages. ”

Does this mean we get to see a makeover as dramatic as the one in Elsamma Enna Aaankutty, in which he breathed life into Palunni, a yokel, as this character will see the romantic hero playing an aged character, perhaps for the first time. “Yes, I think it will be even more drastic than Palunni. The first phase has me in bell bottoms, side burns et al. And then there is an older version set in the present day.”

In March-April Kunchacko will begin work on Lal Jose’s Pullipulikalum Aatinkuttiyum , which will be shot in Kuttanad.

He says what is the best part in this phase of his career is the diverse roles that he has got to portray on screen. Characters with a touch of humour, rustic ones, those with negative shades and so on. Directors are willing to cast him in such roles, and the viewers have given the green signal as he enacted characters such as Palunni and Eravi Kuttan Pillai (his character in Ordinary ) with verve and ease. “That space for experimenting and enacting interesting characters is something I cherish. It has given me the confidence to choose roles that I once thought were beyond my ability.”

And his plans for producing a film? “Ah yes… that is around the corner. Every one seems to be producing films and I hope I get the right movie,” he says before returning to the song sequence he was shooting.

The space for experimenting and enacting interesting characters is something I cherish. It has given me the confidence to choose roles that I once thought were beyond my ability.



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