‘I love playing real people’

Chemban Vinod Jose, who won the Silver Peacock award for Best Actor, talks about his roles as an actor and scenarist

Published - December 06, 2018 01:00 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Chemban Vinod Jose

Chemban Vinod Jose

Chemban Vinod Jose makes acting look effortless as he slips in and out of roles he plays on screen. The actor, who turned scenarist with the well-appreciated Angamaly Diaries last year, has showcased his acting prowess in films such as Amen , Tamaar Padaar , Sapthamasree Thaskaraha , Iyobinte Pusthakam , Urumbukal Urangarilla and Kali . Chemban won the Silver Peacock award for the Best Actor (Male) at the recently concluded International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2018, for his performance in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Ee. Ma. Yau .

In an exclusive interview with Friday Review , Chemban talks about the honour at IFFI, his association with Lijo and his stint as an actor and a scenarist.

You studied physiotherapy. So when did your attention turn to acting?

Although I am a physiotherapist, I have never practised physiotherapy. Acting came my way when Lijo, a close friend of mine, offered me a role in his maiden venture, Nayakan.

You have just won the Silver Peacock award for the Best Male Actor at IFFI 2018.

I am obviously overwhelmed at receiving the award for Ee. Ma. Yau and am glad that Lijo won the award for Best Director, especially since he had faith in my acting abilities and instilled in me the confidence to don grease paint. I was delighted when filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, a member of the international jury, told us that Ee. Ma. Yau was a brilliant movie and when Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan congratulated us.

How did you give shape to your character of Eeshi in Ee. Ma. Yau?

I had a rough idea about how to present the character when scenarist PF Mathews described him to me. I don’t do any homework or preparation to play a character. My acting is what happens instinctively between ‘action’ and ‘cut’.

Your association with Lijo has been crucial in your career. How do you see his evolution as a filmmaker?

I think Lijo’s insistence on perfection has worked wonders for him as a filmmaker. He is easily one of the finest technicians in the business and his films could cater to an international audience too, be it in the subjects that he chooses, his expertise in visualising it and the way he paints the culture of the land that he is showcasing.

Chemban Vinod Jose and Lijo Jose Pellissery

Chemban Vinod Jose and Lijo Jose Pellissery

Last year you scripted Angamaly Diaries, which Lijo had directed...

While writing Angamaly Diaries, I had plans of directing it. My effort was to present the flavour of Angamaly where I was born and lived for so long. I have trimmed or elaborated some of the incidents that I had heard about or created imaginary situations while writing the script. If I had directed Angamaly Diaries , it would have been narrated with more humour or as a romantic comedy. But, when Lijo made it, I realised that it could be narrated in a way that I had never even thought of. It is that talent that makes him a genius!

Are you writing new scripts or planning to turn director?

I am working on a script right now but I am not sure when it will be ready. I don’t plan on directing as I am happy as an actor.

Do you feel viewers are open to unconventional ideas and realistic performances now?

World cinema has gone way ahead of us, so we have to change as well. It is indeed a matter of pride that our filmmakers are making impressive attempts with the limited resources, while working in a relatively smaller space. The viewers have supported those attempts, which is evident from the critical and commercial success of films such as Maheshinte Prathikaram, Sudani from Nigeria and Ee. Ma. Yau.

Many of your roles had shades of grey...

I don’t think there is a difference between playing a humorous character in Saptamasree Thaskaraha and a slimy one in Iyobinte Pusthakam. Actors should not become typecast. What is the fun if the audience know that my character would eventually turn out to be a villain? The audience comes in for entertainment and they want surprises.

You have recently mentioned that you would stop taking up the role of a robber for some time.

I made that statement as I have played a robber in quite a few films recently and did not want to be typecast. But then if a similar, yet unique role comes my way I will not be averse to it. All I meant was that I don’t want to be labelled as a robber, villain or even as a virtuous guy. I love doing realistic characters that anyone can relate to.

Which are your future projects?

Currently I am shooting for Lijo’s Jellikkettu . There is a Tamil project, which has not been formally announced. Then there is Tinu Pappachan’s next, Anwar Rasheed’s Trance and Aashiq Abu’s Virus.

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