Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Playing A Soldier


Tini Tom speaks about his experiences in the films, 'Pattalam', 'Indian Rupee' as well as 'Pranchiyettan and the Saint'

Photo by Melton Anthony 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Director Lal Jose had seen Tini Tom on mimicry shows and selected him for the Mammooty starrer 'Pattalam' (2003). On the set, Lal Jose noticed Tini's height and decided to give him the role of a soldier, along with [actor] Joju George. After a while, 400 real-life soldiers arrived.

As they waited on the sets, a black Mitsubishi Lancer came up. Out stepped Major Ravi, who had yet to start his career as a Mollywood director. He wore black sunglasses and a black jacket. The major lit a cigarette and shouted, “Attention. We will do a march past.”

So, Tini and Joju took their places among the soldiers. “It was only when we started marching that we realised how difficult it is to do it,” says Tini. “Because of us, the soldiers kept banging into each other.”

Major Ravi saw Tini, and said, “I know you. Which battalion do you belong to?”

Tini said, “Sir, I am from Kochi.”

A puzzled Major Ravi said, “There is no battalion in Kochi.”

Tini said, “I belong to a troupe.”

He said, “Which troop? And you took part in which war?”

Finally Tini said, “The biggest problem is that a few letters have been changed. I am from the mimicry and not the military.”

Finally, Major Ravi understood. A smiling Tini says, “This was my first experience on a film set.”

Tini's first proper role was in 'Pranchiyettan and the Saint' (2010), where he played a Mercedes Benz driver, called Subramaniam, who drove Mammooty around at the location in Thrissur.

But Tini's role was brief. After his work was over, he would drive the Mercedes Benz to the hotel where he was staying. One day, at the reception, he overheard one employee telling another, “This is the magic of cinema. One day you arrive in an Indica and the next day you can afford a Mercedes Benz.”

Meanwhile, in 'Indian Rupee' (2011), Tini played a real estate agent called Hameed. The hero, as well as the producer, was Prithviraj. In the initial days, at Kozhikode, there was a shoot, which involved fish. However, this did not appear in the final cut.

These were expensive pomfret, costing Rs 2500. On the first day, because of rains, the shoot was cancelled. This happened on the next three days. So, Tini told Prithviraj, “You are spending so much of money on the fish. Maybe you could provide it for our meals.”

A smiling Prithviraj said, “When you have dinner tonight, note the taste of the fish. It is yesterday's fish.”

That was when Tini realised Prithviraj was a good producer. “He had not wasted the fish,” says Tini. “Prithviraj had ensured that the crew ate it on all the days.”

On the set, Tini befriended the veteran actor Thilakan, who died in 2012. “Thilakan Sir would give me a lot of advice,” says Tini. “One day, he told me that eating too much rice and halwa is not good.”

But during lunchtime, Tini noticed that Thilakan was having both without any problems. So he approached the veteran and said, “Sir, you told me to control the intake of rice and halva, otherwise the sugar levels will go up.”

Tilakan replied, “I can do anything I want. I am supposed to be a person who creates problems (at that time, Thilakan was having a tussle with the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes). Everyone says I don't listen to anybody. But you can listen to me.”  

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)

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