On the grand concluding night of the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival, breaking the excitement, two Chinese film artists announced the name of the winners of Golden Goblet Award. The announcement was in pure Mandarin that many of the attending crowd, including the nominees, didn’t catch the name. But when the English translation of the announcement followed, a huge cheer erupted from the crowd. The video of announcement of Dr Biju’s Veyil Marangal winning the award went viral not because of the applause, but because of an emotional moment when the lead actor, Indrans, seated in the audience sporting a neat tuxedo hugged and kissed Dr Biju before sending him to the dais. Without any dramatic expression, he sits back with trademark humility watching his director receiving the prestigious honour.
Back home at Thiruvananthapuram, reporters welcomed him with a lot of queries about his reaction. In Indrans, the seemingly-rivals fame and humility are ideal partners, exemplifying the way he interacts with people. But he is full of words while expressing his excitement, “Upon finishing the filming, we were all hopeful about the movie turning out well. But I never expected an international acclaim. The movie speaks a lot of philosophy about life. I could actually relate to it a lot.”
Veyil Marangal talks about four seasons in a man’s life. Indrans says he was lucky to survive the seasons in the industry and now going through the best phase of career.
“The best part of my filmography is that I was lucky to be part of some fantastic teams over the years, especially during the past few years. The association with Dr Biju was one among them. I am just one part of many pieces of a puzzle that was well arranged by a great team. So when Biju asked me to come to China, I could not say no,” he says.
His Chinese trip went viral on social media after he uploaded a video where he was struggling with a chopstick at a Chinese restaurant. “The language, the food the way everything organised there was new to me. I was very confused,” laughs Indrans, who has more than 35 years of industry experience, and is well aware of his USPs and weaknesses. “I have done some great character roles in the past too. Everyone talks about my recent movies, but I won’t forget the movies that made me the man that I am now,” he says.
Quizzed if his recent foray into lead roles is because he was becoming choosy, Indrans says, “I cannot be selective. I have never been too. At first, like every other actor, I wanted to do characters with deep traits - what we call ‘serious characters’. ‘Kodakkambi’ was not a serious character, but that earned me a space in movies. At times, I have had the opportunity to play character roles in movies like Kathavasheshan. Still, I act in all the roles I am offered if it has something special. I love young directors who experiment with subjects. But I am definitely not choosy. I don’t get that many offers to be selective. Big or small, I perform all my duties with utmost sincerity; that’s the only way I can pay back to the filmmakers who trust me. God has been very kind to me. This, I consider, as my second innings or a new beginning.”
Indrans made his debut in the 1981 film Choothattam as both costume designer and actor and since then has been part of more than 800 movies. The numbers talk a lot about his experience. His career transformation over the years happens in parallel with that of the entire industry. “Malayalam film industry has always been excellent. I don’t think we have had a fall. I’m not sure if we are competing against any other industry, but in the recent times, it is more visible as social media and other digital platforms give a well-deserved hype to our movies. Luckily, I could be part of some of the ‘new wave’ good movies. There are a lot of skilful filmmakers emerging, like Zachariya who made Sudani from Nigeria; the future looks very bright.”
A believer of destiny, Indrans doesn’t regret any of choices, “I am doing great lead roles now. I will never complain about lack of opportunities in the past. Maybe I was not ready. All these years helped mould an actor who is capable of playing such roles. I was patient and able to withstand all the pressure in all the seasons I have been in. That kept me going.”
Muhabbathil Kunjabdulla, Poriveyil, Lona, Gramavasees, Varthakal Ithuvare and Jana maithri are his new projects. In Varthakal Ithuvare, he plays Arival Suku, a character that brings him back great memories. “Playing the role in that appearance and with those traits, I felt good because I have played similar humorous characters in the past,” he says.
For someone who is at the height of name and fame, Indrans is a rarity with his unmatched simplicity and modesty. “This is what I am. I am blessed with so much love from everyone around and what I can return them is love and commitment.”
Someone commented under his viral Shanghai video, ‘If simplicity had a face’. Well, those words sum up Indrans’ journey....