Cinema

Bright expectations

COLOURFUL CAREER: Asif Ali   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

F rom being a starry-eyed youngster who dreamed of making a mark in Mollywood, Asif Ali has come a long way as an actor. His journey up the ladder has been pretty fast and now the dapper youngster finds himself with one of the hottest tickets in tinsel town. Perhaps it's because Asif has taken care to do roles of varying shades right from an unconventional role in his maiden film – director Shyamaprasad's youthful ‘Ritu' – to his latest film ‘Violin,' directed by Sibi Malayil. ‘Violin' marks a milestone for the actor for he plays the solo lead for the first time in his career. The actor is also excited about his role in Aashiq Abu's ‘Salt n' Pepper,' which will hit the screens next week. Asif Ali talks to Friday Review about realising his dream of becoming a hero. Excerpts from an interview…

With two releases in two weeks, what is your state of mind like these days?

(Smiles) I am absolutely excited. Just a few days ago, I saw the posters of the two films pasted on a wall, quite near to each other, and I felt thrilled. It's a dream come true for me to have reached so far and I am enjoying every moment of it.

After a few negative roles, do you plan to change switch your image to that of a ‘romantic hero' starting with ‘Violin'?

I don't ever want to be labelled or categorised. And that is the reason why I am eager to do various kinds of roles including negative ones. I believe in being part of a good film even if my role is short. I think to be accepted as a hero in Malayalam, there are two types of roles that you need to do. One is family-oriented roles and the other is comedy. I am trying to do both and I count myself lucky to have worked with directors such as Sathyan Anthikkad in ‘Kadha Thudarunnu' and Siby Malayil in ‘Apoorvaraagam' and ‘Violin,' both of whom are known for their family-oriented movies.

How was it playing a solo hero for the first time?

Obviously, it is a big responsibility and I have worked hard to make the role look convincing. My character is that of a young man from a rural town and I had to work hard on his slang, his innocence and his mannerisms, which was not easy. Music has an important part in the story and Nithya Menon (the heroine in the film) and I had to learn to play musical instruments for the shoot. But then I feel that every character is there inside us. An actor's task is to identify them and to portray them effectively.

And what about your role in ‘Salt n' Pepper'?

‘Salt n' Pepper' is a new-generation, fun film. It is a comedy; the character sketch was great. I play a carefree youngster. It's the one character among all that I have essayed that's closest to my real-life persona. (Laughs).

You were a rank outsider in the industry when you got into movies. How was the journey into the big leagues?

I was passionate about becoming a movie star. I didn't know how I was going to do it and so I started out as an anchor and programme producer in a TV channel. I was accepted after a screen test and audition as one of the leads in ‘Ritu.' It has been a steady growth in my career graph and I did it on my own without any godfathers in the industry. I believe that it was my honesty towards this dream that made it all happen.

How is it being a young actor during these times?

It is difficult to get viewers into the theatres to watch a film that has new faces in the lead. I was offered a few lead roles after ‘Apoorvaragam' but I preferred to be a part of a good film such as ‘Traffic,' instead. I had to get some acceptance before doing a solo hero project and when I decided to do one, I preferred to be in Siby Malayil's safe hands.

Your looks are quite unconventional, not exactly macho or chocolate boy. How do you work it to your advantage?

I experiment with my looks and try to mould my physique depending on the nature of the characters that I am playing. For instance, my character in ‘Apoorvaragam' was not bothered about anything other than money and so he had an unkempt look. My character in ‘Ritu' is a closet gay. I thus went for a clean-shaven look, applied kajal in my eyes and sported a curly hairstyle.

How do you select a role?

When I listen to a story, I try to visualise my character and ask myself if I would like to see this film as a viewer. Then I decide to accept it or not.

Still, have you gone wrong in selecting your films?

I regret that I did ‘Best of Luck.' There were so much confusion about the script, and the story narrated to us at the beginning was not the one that was finally seen on screen. ‘Ithu Nammude Kadha' was a disappointment as well. But then at least it worked for those viewers who hadn't seen ‘Nadodigal,' on which it was based.

What are your future projects?

Currently I am shooting for ‘Asuravithu,' directed by A. K. Sajan, and ‘Sevens,' directed by Joshiy. The project has not been formally announced, yet I hope to do Siby Malayil's next film as well.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 4:47:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/bright-expectations/article2147222.ece

Next Story