Ee. Ma. Yau. is a film that unfolds like a perfect symphony through characters with their satirical, quirky, complex, devilish, lustful and emotional upheavals. It finally reaches a crescendo in the climax, when it washes over you like a tidal wave, leaving you spent. Set in a fishing hamlet, the story unravels through the life of Vavachan Mestri whose wish for a grand funeral has his son Eeshi setting out to fulfil it, when Vavachan passes away. Replete with dark humour, it is undoubtedly Chemban Vinod as Eeshi who steals the show with one of his finest performances to date. Eeshi is a man who fails at finding practical solutions to the problems that befall him and he finally reaches a stage where he breaks down in a powerful scene that is raw, natural and poignant.
Chemban Vinod has been able to completely grasp the character and slip into it with consummate ease — no surprise then that director Lijo Pellisserry trusted his friend and regular with Eeshi. “The script by P.F. Mathews had a lot of clarity. So perfect was the detailing and background of the character as well as the locality that any actor would have been able to pull it off. Lijo had a very clear vision of what he wanted too. I did not do any pre-planning myself but knew what Lijo wanted,” a humble Chemban heaps praise on his director and script writer. Yes, the director and the scriptwriter are integral to shaping a good movie but finally it is the actor who delivers the goods. Chemban was not acting; he was literally living the role. He states, “The connect with the role came naturally. I was born and brought up in Angamaly, in an area of middle class families, where I have witnessed such real-life instances in houses where death happens. I have attended the funerals of various communities and witnessed firsthand the loss, sorrow and fights that break out.”
Those experiences gave Chemban the required memory pool to perfect his character. He reveals that playing Eeshi was not difficult. “Acting is what I love and since I enjoy every moment of donning the grease paint, I believe in giving my best to every character I do. Acting comes easily to me and I feel I can deliver better if I am relaxed. Also, my friend Lijo, who was behind the camera, and the technicians, all of whom I knew, gave me a certain freedom,” he says. Though Chemban says the acting was effortless, he had a tough time enacting certain scenes, especially those near the climax.
He explains, “There is a scene where I had to beat people with a dummy stick and swing a pickaxe. Though the stick and pickaxe were props, I kept wondering if I would end up hurting somebody. In yet another scene, I am catching hold of my father’s mistress by her hair and dragging her around. See, we cannot plan out such scenes. When I dragged her, she did not expect that and gave a pained reaction that broke my stride. Same with the actor who played my wife – when I pushed her, she went flying. But hats off to them, they took it in the right spirit. So acting while ensuring that I don’t hurt anybody or myself posed a challenge.”
While the whole world is praising the film and his acting, what is the compliment that he cherishes the most? In true Chemban style, he answers that he is still waiting for the ultimate pat on the back. He says, “I am actually waiting for my parents - especially my father’s reaction! I had wanted him to attend a preview but he said he would go and see the film in the theatre. He will want to express his opinion personally. So I will be visiting him to hear it first-hand,” he reveals. Yes, the compliments have been flowing from various quarters for the actor, who is also a producer and a scenarist. While he has explored the writing and financing parts for films, Chemban would love to be identified as an actor.
Chemban has been a scenarist for Angamaly Diaries and he divulges that he does not favour fiction but rather dives deep into his memories to surface with real-life vignettes. He says, “It is only the connections that I imagine and introduce - like a love angle. The other instances are all extended or edited versions of real-life situations that I thread together- more like cut and paste.” He admits to not really being a fan of writing on paper but would rather record what he thinks and quips, “You can call me more of a recorder and less of a writer!” The next step would be direction. He mentions that if he finds a script he identifies with, he would not be averse to directing.
But acting is what he is sticing to for now. “I want people to appreciate every role I do,” he says. He has the upcoming Premasoothram that is a completely volte face from Ee.Ma.Yau., along with the Anwar Rasheed film. He also has some big news to share, “I am playing the villain in the Tamil film Goli Soda 2. I had watched the first part and enjoyed it. So I immediately said yes to the second part.” In the offing is a Telugu film too. He has been getting a lot of offers from these industries but date issues were a problem till Goli Soda 2 worked out. “Ultimately, it is the acceptance of the Malayali audience that is important,” he signs off.