Our very own band of boys often gets ‘hijacked’ by neighbours, made to look and act like them, speak their language, so that they might sometimes be one among them. What is called ‘greener pastures’ in clichéd tone, accompanies while describing a hero’s first appearance in other language movie industries. The latest entrant to the club, Tovino Thomas, begs to differ. No matter how exciting things are, the true-blue Malayali realises the joy to stay rooted.
“I am happy doing films in Malayalam. There was not a plan like I should go to Tamil. It is not about restricting me. The wish is to focus more here and take up projects with other language industries at the same time. I believe, for an artist, language must not be a barrier when good scripts come calling,” he says.
When his Kollywood debut Abhiyum Anuvum has arrived fresh from the oven, Tovino was kind of holidaying at his hometown Irinjalakkuda as the next schedule of Maari 2 is slated to begin towards the end of May. Looks like, K-Town is convinced about his acting with more invites waiting in the queue. “If a movie is worth enough to squeeze in my time, I commit. Talks are going on,” he says.
As it appealed to his taste Tovino gave the go-ahead to Abiyum Anuvum — it disappointed in parts though (he chooses not to comment). “I committed to the movie as it was said to do festival rounds. The crew was so good and Pia is a good artist, so dedicated to the job,” he says.
It’s not time Tovino can sit back and relax. Two movies —Theevandi and Maradona —releasing back to back in June is only increasing the actor’s responsibility. Tovino has his fingers crossed, excited.
“As an actor, I am looking forward to seeing how people judge me in two get-ups in a short span of time. Maradona from Chavakad and Dinesh Damodar (in Theevandi) from an imaginary village differ like chalk and cheese.”
“I have put in much effort for both to look as different as it could,” he hopes.
It speaks volumes about one habit that had not changed with time for Tovino — the makeover spree. If the boy camouflaged in long beard, pumped up bod or chiselled figure with each visit to his home state, he is almost repeating this old self in cinema. But he’s so humble not to stake a claim for this honour. “The Mammookka in Amaram is not seen in Valsalyam, Dhruvam, Sooryamanasam, or Kauravar. Lalettan and Mammookka did all these with a packed schedule throughout a year. Count the number of movies they did. Can you imagine how much time was left for to switch between roles so fast? It’s possible in Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood where an actor commits two or three films a year. Otherwise, staying within the limitations, these actors are going great guns,” he explains “Cutting down body fat doesn’t occur at the push of a button,” he adds.
The biggest of all the challenges is on the way. That he has been drafted in to play a suicide squad lead in the period drama Chengazhi Nambiar is making news for nearly two years. Going by the first look released sometime in the past, people refused to believe the sweaty, rough and dark representation of a rare tribe was Tovino.
“That people do not know Chengazhi Nambiar is the highlight of the movie. Once this film is out, they’d know,” he says. All we could expect is there’d be a repeat of how Prithviraj well-essayed a lesser-known Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar to make him familiar to Malayalis.
“The character demands a lot. He had a great role in the 1500s, Mamankam days. I don’t have the liberty to talk anything more about it. I plan to take a four month break at least to get into his skin,” he says.
More and more things hovering overhead, the discerning social being finds time to stand up for something he feels for. His expressing solidarity with Sreejith, the lone fighter demanding justice for his brother, has increased public attention to the cause and the actor alike. But Tovino is not happy. “Sreejith still sits there, being denied justice as any common man. A celebrity’s support has very less effect. Those in power, strength and knowledge have to stand by him. I have no power to take the next step. The system should not be so heartless to trivialise his demand,” he says.
His less-advertised involvement for social cause outnumber the ones that were written and spoken about. “Like we say charitable giving should be kept secret, I am not adamant to announce everything I do on social media. I know people say we have not heard him doing charity. Beginning from my days as a software engineer, one share of my income goes to the needy, something I learned from my home. If others follow suit, I am happy,” he signs off....