At 1 pm, Shebin Benson is outside the momos shop. Kochi has now become a very familiar city to this boy from Nilambur. It wouldn’t be right to call him a boy anymore. He has just turned 21, he could marry if he wants to. But then it is easier to think of him as the boy one saw in Idukki Gold, going to school, fooling around with friends, and just being a boy. With a kind of maturity you won’t expect from a 21-year-old, Shebin says, that’s what he likes to play — teen roles, characters that could say something. Like Christopher McCandless’ from Into The Wild. After Idukki Gold, there have been a few movies, most of which saw him play younger versions of heroes like Fahadh Faasil or Jayasurya. In 10 Kalpanakal, he will play an adult character called John, and be seen throughout the movie.
“Someone had suggested my name to director Don Max. And when I met him, I didn’t ask the story, I only asked about my character,’ says Shebin, eating a momo, declaring he is hungry. He has that easy manner about him, one with which he goes around film sets of friends, just observing the art and artists at work. “I love doing that, love talking about cinema at length, and that’s what we do all the time.”
“It is lovely to listen to them talk, the writers and the readers.” Talking to him, you get the feeling that he has not yet fixed his mind on what he wants to do. “I am still figuring that out. I think I want to study abroad, I think I want to have a regular job I could go to.” But his love for art and cinema comes out in every other line he says. The move to Kochi itself has been to get more exposure to people who work in cinema.
“It is Jimshi Khalid who worked as an assistant cameraman in Idukki Gold who took me and my brother Nebish into his house when we didn’t have a place to stay in Kochi.” There are others who took care of them, Shebin says. “Like Rahman Khalid (who directed Anuraga Karikkin Vellam), Nizam (scriptwriter), Vishnu Thandassery (photographer) and Naveen Bhaskar.”
In 10 Kalapanakal, he made friends with Kaniha, who plays his mom and Anoop Menon, his dad. Meera Jasmine plays the female lead. “Meera chechi has also been friendly, coming to talk to me on the sets.” So was Mammootty in Varsham. His biggest learning experiences had been in Idukki Gold and Iyobinte Pusthakam. “If Aashiq ettan’s (Idukki Gold) was a school, Amal ettan’s (Iyob) was a university!” Shebin is paired opposite actor Ritika in 10 Kalpanakal. A student of visual communication at SRM College, Chennai, he shuttles between studies and films....