As we entered the Kokers Media City compound opposite the Reserve Bank of India in Ernakulam, the premises were crowded by vans full of costumes and technical equipment for a film production. Inside the building, a set has been erected for the shoot of Dileep’s upcoming film Ramaleela produced by Mulakupadam Films. Debutant director Arun Gopy was busy describing shots to Lena, whose close-up shot was being canned by cinematographer Shaji. It was then we noticed actor Mukesh, who was also in the shot, but in a different get-up.
When the director approved the shot, Mukesh came out and sat for the interview. “I was in Palakkad two days ago for some meetings. I reached only the other day. Unlike before, I am not allotting bulk dates for shoots,” he begins. Being an MLA, he has reduced the number of shooting days. “I opt to work for a maximum of four days at a stretch and spend the rest of the days in my constituency so that my duties as an actor as well as an MLA won’t be affected,” he points out.
In Ramaleela, Mukesh appears in the role of a senior police officer in a new appearance. In yet another film gearing up for release — Sathyan Anthikkad’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal — he appears as Dulquer Salmaan’s father. So, isn’t he bothered about playing dad roles? “I am from a theatre background, where we do various kinds of roles. For me, my main target is essaying good roles. Even if it was the lead role, I would have done that. I am not doing this role just because I have become older, but because it is important in the film,” says the actor.
Sathyan Anthikkad had approached Mukesh around a year ago. “He indicated that a film was under planning and he would like to cast me in that role. After a few months, when I met screenwriter Iqbal Kuttippuram, he too told me about the role. Later, they narrated the screenplay and asked me if I had any objection and I said, if an actor said no to this role, he would be an idiot. Such a wonderful role it is. As I said earlier, I am not bothered about image. Interestingly, when they narrated the script to Dulquer, he asked who was playing the dad’s role. And he too agreed to go with the project after finding out that I was cast as Jomon’s father,” he says.
The actor admits that he has become selective. “I am doing the roles which demand the actor in me — that makes me more responsible. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told me that it is as an artiste that I was chosen a candidate and later an MLA, so continue with that career,” he says. Quizzed about his mini screen stint, he says, “As of now, I am doing Badai Bungalow. If I get more offers, I will definitely think about it because such shows help us get more connected to people. The show Sell Me the Answer was a challenging one; we had to be updated to manage the show with spontaneous dialogues and should be careful to avoid repetitions.”