Oliver Twist in Rojin Thomas’ #Home does not have a smartphone and when he finally does get one, it unleashes a series of goof-ups that impacts his award-winning filmmaker son’s life adversely. Indrans as Oliver Twist conveys the confusion of a ‘not-so extraordinary man’ (as his son reminds him) in his 60s who does not know technology or social media, and therefore cannot connect with his always-on-their-smartphones sons.
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The actor reminds you of your parents as he wrestles with technology and video calls. “I was just doing what the director asked me to. Some of it is my story. All of us, especially those closer to my age, have had these experiences with smartphones and constantly evolving technology,” says the actor over the phone. He loved the script and could not wait to start filming, he confesses. The film was shot last year when lockdown restrictions were eased for filming.
The portrayal has won praise for Indrans, who was awarded the Kerala State Film Award for best actor (2018) for his portrayal of an Ottanthulal artist, Pappu Pisharody, in Aalorukkam . The 40-year journey for Indrans (Surendran K) from his first role, a minor one in Choothattam (1981), to the lead actor of a mainstream Malayalam film (planned for a theatre release) has been rewarding.
On whether he coveted a lead role, Indrans says, “We actors are all greedy that way...we want to do as many roles as possible and dream many dreams including being the lead. We would be lying if we say we don’t have that dream,” he says laughing. Though this is not his first film in a lead role, #Home is perhaps the first that has garnered this kind of attention thanks to the OTT release and its reach. “I am getting calls in languages I cannot even understand! All I can say is ‘yes, yes’!” he says self-deprecatingly.
“Being the lead comes with responsibility. It is kind of worrying… the film rests on your shoulders. The constant thought is that the producer should not suffer losses because of you. Doing a small role in a film with someone else as lead is easier on the mind. This role, however, was too good to refuse. Oliver Twist is an unusual character, I felt affection for the character,” he says. He is all praise for his co-stars in the film: KPAC Lalitha, Manju Pillai, Sreenath Bhasi and others.
Rojin, Indrans says, took the film to another level creatively and technically. “These new kids are so good, so professional.”
Whether he is as technologically challenged as Oliver Twist, Indrans says he has a few difficulties and that he has learnt some new things via the film.
A love of theatre fuelled his interest in acting, “I have seen every play that was put in every ulsavaparambu (temple festival grounds) in the vicinity as a child. There was no way I would miss one.” A tailor by profession, he stumbled into films out of a love for cinema. He had made his name more as a comic actor, sidekick to the lead or main comic, before transitioning into a character actor with serious roles.
“I haven’t noticed the passage of years, don’t know how the years have passed. In fact, I am enjoying myself greatly because of the different kinds of roles that have been coming my way.” He was last seen as a cop in Malik.
Over the years he has worked with a couple of generations of filmmakers. On being asked to evaluate working styles or differences, he says, “There is no comparison, simply because they are working under different conditions and different times. It would be unfair to everybody if one were to compare – every generation has its positives and negatives.”
The feedback has floored him, he has been getting calls from families where every member has spoken to him. “It is not one single person on a call...entire families get on the call and tell me how they liked the film.”
The response is due to the OTT release, which took the film to audiences across the globe at the same time instead of them having to wait for the release in the area. “Yes that is a good thing about the platform, but I would have liked it to be a theatre release. A large section of the population or audience does not have access to these devices or this technology. They would have watched the film in a theatre and enjoyed it. But, I understand, it can’t be helped given the situation.”
#Home is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video