By Kunchacko Boban
(As told to Shevlin Sebastian)
In the mid 2000s, I had a series of flops. One reason why this happened was because the audience sensed that I was getting fed up of doing these cliched ‘chocolate hero’ roles. So, I took a two-year break from acting and dabbled in business and real estate.
During this time, I did not miss acting. Instead, I pondered over what was missing in my acting. I realised that I did not go for risk-taking roles. The problem was that I did not like to change my hair style or alter my moustache. So I looked the same in almost all the films before I took the break. In my second innings, from 2009 onwards, I made it a point to look different.
In ‘Elsamma Enna Aankutty’, I played a village milkman. Until that time, no director or producer had the courage to give me such a role. They could not imagine me moving around in a M80 moped supplying milk. I cut my hair very short, toned down my make-up, and wore lungis. Overall, it was a big changeover.
The director of the film, Lal Jose, a close friend, convinced me to do the change. During the sabbatical I would keep going to his house and have discussions about acting and films. He said, “You should be in touch with the common man and know their pulse and emotions.” Incidentally, ‘Elsamma Enna Aankutty’, a common man’s story, became one of the biggest hits of 2010. Thereafter, I have had a series of successes: ‘Traffic’, ‘Seniors’, ‘Sevenes’, ‘Three Kings’, ‘Doctor Love’ and ‘Ordinary’, which is the first superhit of 2012.
Of course, the key is to select the right script. When I hear or read a script, I do it from the perspective of an ordinary person. All my other faculties are shut off: I am not an actor, and do not belong to the film industry. I am just a man on the street who wants to spend Rs 50 to watch a good film. If I get excited by the script, that is 50 per cent. Then I will study my character. How big or important is the role? Then I will look at who is the director, producer, technical crew and the banner. This is my formula for acting in a hit film.
But then what is a hit? A film may run for 100 days and will be called a hit by the audience, as well as the media. But it may not be so for the producer, if the budget is high and the costs have not been recovered.
In today's scenario, films are being classified as multiplex, theatre or Facebook hits. For example, a recent film, which I do not want to name, is a good one, but it is only a Facebook success. All the reviews and comments are positive, but the film has not done well, in terms of box-office collections or theatre audience reaction. The producer may not have recovered his money. So, all these definitions are relative.
I have just completed my 50th film in 15 years. What I would like to see is good scripts. But life has become faster. People don't have the time. So writers are also penning Twenty-20 cricket-style scripts. They miss out on the simple things in life.
(Kunchacko Boban is one of the leading actors in Mollywood)
(The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)