COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Actor Joju George talks about his experiences in the films, 'Rajadhi Raja', 'Ramante Eden Thottam' and 'Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum'
Photos: Joju George; the poster of 'Rajadhi Raja'
By Shevlin Sebastian
On the sets of 'Rajadhi Raja' (2014), at Coimbatore, an assistant director was telling his colleagues that the role of Ayyappan was being played by the wrong person. “Joju George should be removed, and we should get a good actor,” said the assistant director. “This role is as important as the one played by Mammooty.”
Unknown to the assistant director, Joju was standing at one side, just out of sight. When he heard these statements, he felt crushed. Then a fear arose in him on whether he would be removed from the film.
Soon, there was a scene where Joju had to act opposite Mammooty and give a line of dialogue. But no words came out of Joju's mouth. “All I felt was a great tension and nervousness within me,” he says. “A few takes were attempted, but I could not get it right. I saw on the faces of the crew members the acceptance of what the assistant director had said about me.”
Then suddenly, Mammooty walked across, with a smile on his face, and put his arms around Joju's shoulders. “Why is everybody a bit afraid to act in front of me?” he said, in a soothing tone. “Are you afraid?”
The moment Mammooty spoke Joju relaxed immediately. “I began to feel comfortable,” he says. Then the superstar said, “Just give the dialogue in this way.” And then he enacted it.
When the shoot resumed, Joju acted exactly in the way Mammooty had told him, and the shot was okayed at once. “Mammooty Sir is my idol and this timely help showed the greatness of the man,” says Joju. “He made me feel so confident.”
But in 2016, when, on the sets of 'Fukri', Jayasurya told Joju that he might get an important role in Ranjit Shankar's 'Ramante Eden Thottam', the latter again felt nervous. “I was not sure about whether I would do it well,” says Joju.
One day, Ranjith called and narrated the story. And that was when Joju got an even bigger jolt. “I realized I would be there in nearly every scene,” says Joju, who was slated to play Elvis Chumar, the husband of Anu Sithara. “It was an important character. As Ranjith was talking I wondered how I would be able to do this role. Did I have it in me to give a good performance? And later, I came to know that many people expressed doubts about me. I cannot blame them, because I had not done a major role before this.”
In the end, Joju did so well, that he has received widespread praise, both from critics and the viewing public.
One of the reasons Joju has emerged as a good actor is because he got valuable tips about the craft from noted directors over the years.
In the film, 'Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum' (2013), Joju played one of three brothers of the hero Gopan, essayed by Kunchacko Boban. “All of them were villains,” says Joju. “I approached [the director] Lal Jose and asked whether I could introduce funny mannerisms and an exaggerated way of walking.”
Lal Jose agreed and said, “When you introduce mannerisms, you should maintain continuity and behave the same way in all scenes.” And throughout the shoot, Lal Jose would remind Joju about it because every now and then the actor would forget.
Lal Jose had given this advice very casually, but it was an important lesson for Joju. “Subsequently in the many roles that I played, I always ensured this continuity,” he says.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram)