In the movie Udaharanam Sujatha, nobody would forget the character Rajeev, who helps Sujatha learn mathematics. Rajeev is silent, observant and mature. Swaraj Gramika, who gave life to Rajeev on screen, too sounds quite mature when he talks about movies, his passion. For him, cinema is no child’s play. He wants to pursue it in the long run. Swaraj entered the realm of acting at a very young age by playing the famous character Apu of Pather Panchali in a theatrical adaptation by Gramika, a theatre group in his native Navayikkulam, Thiruvananthapuram.
“There is a library in our place. The people there formed this group. Later, I performed in close to 10 dramas of the group, on more than 150 stages. I was fortunate enough to do some good characters, both central and supporting, in them,” says Swaraj. How did he discover his interest in acting? “I used to do mono act. Once when I went for the youth festival in the sub-district level, a judge there told my father that my programme was different from the others. Then, I realised my interest lies in acting,” says Swaraj, who ventured into movies with Mammootty-starrer Puthan Panam, directed by Ranjith.
“It was Manivarnan chettan, who runs an acting institute in Kollam, who told my father about the role in Puthan Panam. He asked my father to take me to Ranjith sir. We went to meet him in Kozhikode. We had sent him details of my two short films and theatre productions before meeting him. During the meeting, he asked a few personal details and after a few days, Manivarnan chettan called my father and said I got selected,” recalls Swaraj. His father Baiju, mother Maya, brother Bhagath and the members of Gramika are his support.
It was a grand beginning for Swaraj. He played a prominent role, which got noticed. He still cherishes his days on the set of Puthan Panam. “It was a super experience with Mammukka. ‘Yathra thudangiyitte ullu. Vazhiyile Mullukale okke pookalayi karuthi yathra thudaruka. (The journey has just begun. Consider thorns on your path as flowers and go on)’, he wrote an autograph for me. He was very supportive.”
His next project was with Manju Warrier. “That was an entirely different character,” says Swaraj. “The set had a children’s gang and Manju chechi was good with all of us.” There are some offers in the pipeline for him. Besides, he is working on a solo drama based on the life of Charlie Chaplin, directed by Jino Joseph. “I will be coming as Charlie Chaplin in that,” says Swaraj.