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Biju Menon on the success of 'Ayyappanum Koshiyum' and completing 25 years in the Malayalam film industry

Biju Menon in ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’

Biju Menon in ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The actor, who turns 50 this year, says that it is is a character’s scope for performance that makes him on a role, and not the age or image

Biju Menon has that knack for evoking laughter even while maintaining a poker face. The actor, who has been in the industry for over 25 years, started off with serious roles and essayed several memorable villains before he turned to comedy with some unconventional roles.

In writer-director Sachy’s Ayyappanum Koshiyum, which is setting the cash registers ringing, Biju plays Ayyappan Nair, a sub-inspector on the verge of retirement. Although Biju insists he is not someone who pursues roles or films, that has not deterred him from coming up with well-appreciated characters at regular intervals.

Excerpts from the interview...

It is rare for both the heroes in the title role to receive equal footing in a film as in Ayyappanum Koshiyum...

The story of a tiny problem snowballing into a full-fledged ego tussle has been brilliantly presented in this movie. There is a balance achieved in character design, we didn’t add anything new to Sachy’s script. According to Sachy, this film is not the usual hero versus villain story. Both the leads have shades of grey. More than the screen space or the character’s heroism, what attracted me was the fact that the script gave me a chance to perform.

Sub-Inspector Ayyappan Nair keeps his emotions under lock and key. Was it challenging to play such a character?

The character and his spectrum of emotions were perfectly sketched in the script. As an actor, all I had to do was step into the character’s shoes and understand his thoughts and feelings. Sachy did such a fine job of moulding us that we actually felt we were in a real police station while shooting some of the scenes.

Do you carry the character back home with you?

Not really. I am not that intense an actor to carry a character beyond a point (laughs).

You have played characters that are older than you in several movies...

Even in my early days in the industry, my focus has always been to play characters with substance. I don’t check to see if my role is that of a hero or a person with negative shades. It’s the scope for performance that I look for and not the age or image of my characters.

But you are in a business where stardom matters. And there is always the risk of being typecast.

Getting typecast depends on the roles we choose, doesn’t it? When the same kind of characters are offered to you, you have the option of not doing them. I stopped accepting the roles of police officers when I realised I was doing many of those roles. I was beginning to get bored playing clichéd comic characters, which made me think about moving on to something new. However, that doesn’t mean that with the success of Ayyappanum Koshiyum, I will stop doing comedy.

You and Prithviraj Sukumaran were in Sachy’s directorial debut, Anarkali, as well. Are you at ease while working with friends?

Yes. When I am working in my comfort zone, I am more at ease while giving suggestions or inputs about a particular scene.

You opted out of Thuramukham and Malik...?

Both these offers came to me while I was busy with Ayyappanum Koshiyum. They did wait for me but I decided to opt out as I had to maintain the look of my character for Ayyappanum Koshiyum.

What is Madhu Warrier’s directorial debut, Lalitham Sundaram, about that you are doing next?

Lalitham Sundaram is a simple family movie that has a positive feel.

You are pairing up with Manju Warrier in Lalitham Sundaram for the first time after her comeback. How do you view her journey as an actor?

Manju proved that she is an extremely talented artiste even before she took the break. And after her comeback, she is doing so well, even in Tamil.

As you complete 25 years in the industry, how do you view your successes and failures as an actor?

See, the efforts taken for every movie is the same, regardless of their outcome. In my case, be it a success or failure, the highs or the lows remain for just a few days. By then, I would be involved in the next project.

Do you analyse what went wrong when your movies fail?

Actually, it’s either my wife, Samyuktha (Menon), or my friends who do such analyses. They are the ones who point out what worked and failed in a particular film. It’s difficult for me to judge a film as I am often more focussed on my role and performance on screen. I leave the analysing to them and accept their suggestions and criticisms as they relay what the viewers felt.

Since many of your comedies have clicked at the box office, is there some kind of a pressure on you to take up comic roles?

Nowadays, most of the roles that come my way have shades of humour in them. I enjoy doing comic roles that blend with the story. I am looking for cinema that is sensible and is entertaining and engaging, be it is comic or serious.

Were you affected by social media attacks after you campaigned for Suresh Gopi during the last Lok Sabha elections?

I have known Suresh ettan (Suresh Gopi) for years and went campaigning for him without looking into his political affiliations. And yes, I was upset when the discussions veered off course. But Suresh ettan is a good friend of mine and I will campaign for him in future too. Such controversies affect you only when you pay heed to those discussions. Once you learn to ignore them, everything will be over.

You are turning entering 50 this year. What does the milestone mean to you?

I feel I have a certain gravitas. Even my son wants me to be more serious now (laughs). Having said that, I don’t thing there will be any big change.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 3:51:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/actor-biju-menon-on-how-he-picks-roles-and-his-journey-so-far/article30859024.ece

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