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Moothon’s Mulla: in conversation with Sanjana Dipu

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19-year-old actor makes dream debut with the acclaimed Geetu Mohandas film

Becoming Moothon’s Mulla was not easy for Sanjana Dipu, it took some work shifting gears from being a 17 year-old girl to a 13 year-old ‘boy’. “The only similarity was that Mulla is a very hopeful child like me...we are both helplessly hopeful!” says the 19 year-old actor, whose first film this is. Moothon, directed by Geetu Mohandas, has been met with rave reviews. Hers is among the high power performances that have been highly appreciated. It comes as a surprise to many that Sanjana is Mulla.

Also read | ‘Moothon’ review: a brave statement from Geetu Mohandas

She is nothing like the short-haired, dark kid looking for ‘moothon’ (elder brother) in Mumbai. “I can stand in a movie hall and scream, nobody would know I and Mulla are the same. I am enjoying the privacy.” That said she confesses she is also enjoying the constant buzz of her phone.

With a maturity that belies her age, Sanjana shares her thoughts on what she expected of the film, “I knew the film would have an impact with people who enjoy cinema. I was sceptical about the general audience, but the theatre response has been great!” This role gave a foundation to her acting dream, which she now feels confident enough to chase.

Moothon’s Mulla: in conversation with Sanjana Dipu

Becoming Mulla was about not merely transforming physically, it had to be emotional as well. A series of workshops with Sujith and Atul Mongia helped. “I learnt not only about breathing and acting, but also about the inner self and understanding the self.” These were also with the director, solo and co-actors as well. Of acting as a boy, she says, the gestures and reactions especially were not easy initially.

It comes as a surprise when Sanjana lets it out that she has never acted before — not even in school or college plays. The only one role she ever did was for a college play after Moothon filming was done. While in school she never got around to theatre as she was busy with music, dance and other activities, “the theatre teacher used to say that I have my fingers in too many pies!”

The second year undergraduate in Bengaluru was in Class XII, Global Public School (Kochi) when filming started and she missed coaching classes and other extra curricular activities, but has no regrets.

Her classmates and teachers were extremely supportive, doing their extra bit to make it easy for her. In Kochi for the film promotion, she says she has to return to college as she cannot miss out on classes. “I am not going to give up on education, which is my focus right now.” Cricketer Sreesanth is her father Dipu Santh’s younger brother.

Sanjana’s tryst with cinema started when she came across Geetu when she was out for a film at a multiplex. Sanjana and Dipu noticed the director looking at her. “My father wondered why and I joked, ‘maybe it is for her next movie’.” Those words turned out to be prophetic.

Moothon’s Mulla: in conversation with Sanjana Dipu

Very soon, a couple of rounds of auditions later, she was chosen from among a few hundred kids for Geetu’s film. Sanjana was in Class XI at the time. The brief required that she lose weight, learn swimming, turn a few shades dark and cut off her “really long hair”. “I would apply oil and run in the sun with my father in Fort Kochi. Not that it helped much...” she says laughing. And cutting her very short, initially pinched a bit, but now she revelling in the comfort of a short haircut. Although she knows swimming, it is different in the waters of Lakshadweep.

Her face lights up as she speaks of filming and especially her co-stars: “Nivin (Pauly) chettan is very funny, Sobhita-di (Dhulipala) has a different aura, Shashank — though he beats me up in the film — is funny! Dileesh (Pothan) uncle was also nice, but the minute action starts, he changes and becomes the character and Melissa (Raju Thomas) and I bonded because it was both our first feature.”

Although she was in Mumbai for the MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) screening, she couldn’t catch the film as she had to participate in the Q&A session. She did however watch the film with her family in Kochi, and says the best feedback was from her parents and younger brother. “I could see that they were happy! That was the best.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 5:40:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/moothons-mulla-in-conversation-with-sanjana-dipu/article30113894.ece

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