Versatile actor Indrajith returns to the screen as Shereef in Zakariya Mohammed’s Halal Love Story after movie-goers last saw him as the taciturn and brusque Dr Baburaj with a heart of gold in Aashiq Abu’s blockbuster Virus .
Premièring on Amazon Prime on October 15, Halal Love Story has Indrajith playing a middle-class guy with cinema in his dreams. The actor sounds gung-ho as he talks on the phone from Kochi about his character and some of the exciting projects that he was working in before the pandemic struck.
Indrajith says he was unable to interact much with the media in 2019 as he was neck-deep in work in different locations. In addition to Halal Love Story , in which he plays a character that is new in his repertoire, he acted in Srinath Rajendran’s Kurup with Dulquer Salmaan, with Nivin Pauly in Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham , and Jeetu Joseph’s Ram and so on.
“Shooting was going on for some films while some others were in the post-production stage when the lockdown came. All work had to be put on hold. The shooting of Ram, for instance, has been completed in India and the next schedule is in London. We are not sure when we will able to travel for work,” says Indrajith.
However, putting aside speculations about the future, Indrajith would rather talk about Shereef. “ Halal Love Story is a film of our times. Rooted in the soil, it is about a group of youngsters who try to make a film that is keeping in with their religious beliefs. That is when they realise the challenges they have to overcome. There is a lot of humour but it is organic and woven into the landscape of the story,” says the actor.
Shereef, hailing from a conservative family, plunges into the efforts to make a film that stays within the boundaries prescribed by his faith. However, conflicts arise in plenty as a group of professionals try to make a film with an amateur group of film lovers and actors who want to ensure that the film is ‘Halal’, that what is permissible in their faith. “It is about life, love, faith and friendship,” he says.
The team decides that since their budget is limited, they would go in for a tele-film and approach Joju George, enacting an aspiring director who is not orthodox in his views.
“There are personal and professional conflicts as they try to resolve issues that crop up during the filmmaking. The professionals want their work to be done well and have no patience for the sentiments of members of the cultural organisation that is keen on making a film to reach out to the people. The solutions to overcome or work around those issues often lead to unexpected outcomes. For instance, Shereef is more of an enthusiastic actor than a good one but they are forced to cast him because of certain compulsions,” says Indrajith, unwilling to divulge more about the story.
He adds that the dialect is quite different from what he has done so far in his career. “Fortunately, many of the crew members, including Zakariya and Muhsin Parari, the scenarist, belong to Malappuram and all I had to do was listen to them carefully,” explains Indrajith.
Talented Grace Antony acts as Indrajith’s pair, Suhara. Amid the planned chaos of a mise-en-scene in Halal Love Story , Shereef, Suhara and Taufeeq (Sharaf U Dheen) along with the other characters gain a new understanding of life and themselves.
“Shereef is a layered character. He loves acting and is an enthusiastic actor in street plays and the like put up by the cultural organisation be belongs to. So he jumps at the opportunity to act in the film that is being shot at his place. Through the discussions about the film and its shooting, we get close to the characters and their moral dilemmas,” adds Indrajith.
Like others in the industry, he is also impatiently waiting for the day when the film industry starts rolling in earnest without any hurdles.