Any one single adjective would fall short in describing the talent of Edmund Thomas Clint, more famously known as Clint — the boy of extraordinary talent who made 25,000 paintings during his short life of seven years. Though it has been nearly 30 years since he left this world, his memories live on in his paintings that are unanimously termed brilliant. It is those paintings and the memories associated with them that still add colour to the lives of his parents M.T. Joseph and Chinnamma. Clint’s talent was recognised at the age of five months by his parents when he scrawled with chalk on the floor of his home. His parents played a huge role in letting young Clint pursue painting, which gave him happiness and contentment. Some of the paintings made by Clint were based on the numerous stories his father told him and his father played a very instrumental role in his short life.
So it was obviously a tall order for young actor Unni Mukundan to step into the shoes of Clint’s father Joseph in the film Clint directed by Harikumar. Unni terms the role as his most emotionally intense one and shares his knowledge about Joseph. He says, “Clint’s favourite deity was Lord Ganapathi though he belonged to a Christian family. This was because Joseph uncle used to read the Hindu scriptures to Clint at home. Little Clint was also fascinated by the character of Samson from the Bible. The precocious boy was brought up in a very liberal atmosphere.”
After offering these facts, Unni talks about the challenges he faced. Primary among them was that he was portraying a living person for the first time in his life. He adds, “I also had to go through all the emotional highs and lows that Joseph goes through. Playing Clint’s father emotionally drained me for the first time in my career. There were times when my eyes were wet while filming the scenes.”
Though Unni is playing Joseph, he mentions there is no physical similarity between the real Joseph and the character of Joseph played by him. “We wanted the audience to know the role of Joseph in molding Clint’s life. The emotional journey of Joseph has been truly portrayed,” he says.
Asked if Unni had done his homework vis-a-vis talking to Joseph, he answers, “I was a little hesitant because invariably the subject would end up on Clint and it would leave me sad. I depended largely on Ammu Nair’s book — A Brief Hour of Beauty to understand Joseph’s emotional journey.”
Unni has made a transition from a happy, cheery 35-year-old to an elderly disturbed man of 70 years. “I also cut down on sugar to make my face and body reflect that change,” he says.
Though a certain cinematic liberty has been taken, the makers have tried to keep the soul of the movie alive. Unni had acted in a film directed by Harikumar earlier and it was this familiarity that landed him the role.