Malayalam actor Niranj on his characters and new film, ‘GU’

Niranj acts in GU, a fantasy-horror film directed by debutant Manu Radhakrishnan

Updated - May 16, 2024 05:23 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 03:59 pm IST

 Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in Gu.

Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in Gu. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Actor Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju is in no hurry. After proving his versatility in a series of character roles, he will next be seen in GU, releasing on May 17. A “a fantasy-horror-thriller”, it has  been directed and scripted by debutant Manu Radhakrishnan.

Niranj says that since the emphasis is on children, the title has been shortened to GU. “It is about the myth of Gulikan, prevalent in certain parts in Kerala. A family from Bengaluru comes to a place in North Kerala for a get-together to attend a ritual that has not been performed for years in an old ancestral house. Saiju Kurup appears as this man who has no time for superstitions and mysteries. I play his cousin Mithran,” says Niranj.

Niranj Maniyanpilla in Gu

Niranj Maniyanpilla in Gu | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The place is steeped in myths and folk stories.  Niranj points that usually such stories have a grandmother talking about the beliefs and stories in that region. “Instead, Mithran, a student of Ayurveda, who has heard these stories from his grandmother, tells the children the stories of another age. Among them is Saiju ettan’s character’s daughter, played by child actor Deva Nandha.”

Saiju and Deva Nandha had earlier played father and daughter in the hit film Malikappuram.

Mithran keeps the children engaged with his stories. Sceptical and cynical, the father is perplexed by certain mysterious happenings around him and “that is how the story progresses. Mine is an interesting character with a mix of humour and incredulity,” adds Niranj.

He emphasises that it is a movie that can be enjoyed by the entire family, especially children.

The film’s main location was Pattambi as the story required a mana (heritage home of a certain community in Kerala) with certain requirements.

Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju

Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju | Photo Credit: Shilpa Nair Anand

After his competent debut in a negative role in Black Butterfly, the actor caught the attention of viewers with his character Manuel in the movie Finals, which was appreciated for his subtle take on the character. But Niranj could not capitalise on the appreciation he earned as the pandemic brought the film industry to a standstill. 

Rajisha Vijayan and Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in a still from Finals.

Rajisha Vijayan and Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in a still from Finals. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

After the pandemic, one of his standout roles was in Madhura Manohara Moham as Disney James.

Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in Black Butterfly.

Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju in Black Butterfly. | Photo Credit: Mahadevan Thampy

“After Finals, I assumed that people would give me meaty roles. I was mistaken. One has to reach out to directors one wants to work with. I have started doing that.”

Nevertheless, Niranj, youngest son of veteran actor-producer Maniyanpilla Raju, is not hassled. “It takes time and luck to get good roles and it is when those films get appreciated that the actors also get noticed,” he says.

As of now, the films that got him noticed were produced by his father. GU is also produced under the banner of Maniyanpilla Raju Productions.

“Well, that was serendipity and not something that was pre-planned. I first happened to hear the story and I told my father about it. That was how he came into the scene.”

Currently acting in a mini-series in Mumbai, 4.5 Gangs, directed by hotshot director Krishand, Niranj admits he has great hopes for his character in the series, which will be telecast on SonyLIV. “Krishand is a director with a very different vision. There is no telling how he plans a film. Working with him is a great experience.”

He asserts that until he makes a mark as an actor, he plans to put on hold his plans of directing a film. “It is certainly there in my scheme of things. Right now, I want to focus on my work as an actor.”

He adds that once he completes shooting the series, he is likely to begin working in a comedy along with a group of young actors. Also in the pipeline is a series.

“It is only now that I have begun getting the kind of roles that gives me the scope to showcase my work as an actor.”

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