The child actor, Sanoop Santhosh, gives a stunning debut performance in the Mollywood hit film, ‘Philips and The Monkey Pen’
Photo by Suresh Napoothiri
“When [superstar] Mohanlal Sir called me up, the hair on my arms stood up,” says child actor Sanoop Santhosh. “He praised my acting and told me that he would get me a role in his next film.”
As Sanoop sits in the lobby of a five-star hotel in Kochi, a fan asks for an autograph. With élan, the nine-year-old writes on the last page of a notepad: ‘All the best with love and happiness’. And he signs 'Sanoop', in a slanting manner, by the side of the inscription.
Sanoop has given a stellar performance as student Ryan Philips in the hit Mollywood film, ‘Philips And The Monkey Pen’. “There is a feeling that it will reach 50 days,” says Sanoop.
Essentially, the story is of a young boy, who has experiences that all children face: a dislike of maths, a teacher who uses the cane, the complicated interaction with parents, friends and classmates, a crush on a girl and the passing of notes to her and receiving them. However, thanks to the monkey pen, all his issues, especially those in maths, are solved miraculously.
The youngster is in the middle of a media storm: newspapers, magazines and television channels are talking and writing about his stunning debut.
Undoubtedly, acting does come naturally to him. For many years he would accompany his parents, Santhosh and Usha, to watch Sanusha, his elder sister, by nine years, act in films. “So I did not feel nervous when I bagged this role, after an audition,” says Sanoop. In fact, Sanusha challenged him that if he could cry without using glycerine, she would give him a top quality mobile phone. “Here it is,” he says, pointing at a white Samsung mobile.
What helped was the relaxed atmosphere on the set. “I thought that both the [debut] directors, Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed, would be strict, but they were friendly and encouraging,” says Sanoop. “It seemed as if we were on a picnic. They took all my improvisations and put it in the film.”
Director Rojin says that Sanoop is a born talent. “Before the shoot began he was shy and reserved, but once he immersed himself in the character of Ryan, he became smart and outgoing,” he says. “The success of the film depended on Sanoop's performance and he delivered superbly.”
Sanoop acted alongside stars Jayasurya and Remya Nambeesan, who play his parents, and veteran actor Mukesh who is the school principal. “They were all very helpful,” says Sanoop. “Jayasurya Sir was very patient and explained to me how each scene should be done.”
Sanoop enjoyed every aspect of the 42-day shoot except the last scene when it was shot on Varkala Beach during the monsoon season. He was sitting on a log facing the sea. Suddenly, a huge wave came and hit the log as well as Sanoop. “I was swept off, but not very far,” he says. “For a few minutes I was in shock.”
But now his life is less a shock and more like a pleasant dream. “If I get another good role like Ryan Philips, I will act again,” he says. “My idol is Kamal Hassan. What a great actor he is.”
(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)