His first two films bombed at the box office but he made the audience sit and take note. Unni Mukundan may be just three-films-old in the industry, but the newbie has bagged a couple of enviable projects including T K Rajeev Kumar’s ‘Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty’ and ‘Chattakkari’ remake. “My films may not be money-clinkers, but they were exciting outings for the performer in me,” says the young actor now busy with ‘Thalsamayam...’, a satire set against the backdrop of a reality show.
Unni says he too was bitten by the bug, but the story has a twist. He wanted to be a filmmaker and started roaming cine circuits thinking he would be calling the shots one day. “But then I started getting offers to act. I was called for an audition in Chennai for ‘Seedan’ and got selected.” His first film was the Tamil remake of ‘Nandanam’ where he played the role handled by Prithviraj in the original. Unni says his tryst with both the industries has been awesome. “South cinema has immense potential. We have been making maximum result with whatever limited resources we have,” he says.
Unni reveals he was camera savvy from the very beginning and found himself quite comfortable in front of arc lights. “It may be because I was prepared for the show. Since I wanted to be a director I used to follow the canning routine,” he says. He also adds that his focus kept on flickering during the shoot of ‘Seedan’ as he was more fascinated with the ‘thing going on behind the camera’. “ My concentration was going wayward but eventually it dawned on me that I was cut out for the role of an actor. During my second film ‘Bangkok Summer’ I was quite at peace with acting,” he says.
Though Unni was noted for his performance in his first two films, the film that marked his arrival was the third one. In ‘Bombay March 12’ he had equal reel time with Mammootty and the film garnered him much appreciation. “Mammootty had seen ‘Bangkok Summer’ before it was released. First he was very apprehensive as I have a very brawny look in ‘Bangkok Summer’, something absolutely unsuited for the character in ‘Bombay March 12’ and I was rejected. But after finishing ‘Bangkok Summer’ I went and met the director and he felt I could carry the character off. Then I went to Pondicherry and met Mammootty and this time he had no confusions about casting me. That’s how ‘Bombay March 12’ happened and I consider it my best film.”
Unni says he actually had a panic attack the day he started working with Mammootty. “I was awed by his subtlety and was pretty nervous about sharing the screen with him. I still remember my first shot, I almost froze out in front of him. But he helped me bridge the gap and always kept me at a comfort zone. Within no time we formed a natural camaraderie. Later I found out we have a lot in common and now I share a wonderful rapport with him,” he says. Unni says he is absolutely clueless about why the film failed to fair at the box office. “We make much hullabaloo about good films not being made. ‘Bombay March 12’ was a genuine film and I really don’t know why it got a lukewarm reception,” he adds.
Unni says he is not game for rip-roaring entertainers and will not take up hollow themes that fail to leave an impression. “I started getting offers from the day I entered showbiz. Offers were aplenty, but the quality abysmal. It was only after ‘Bombay March 12’ I started getting substantial roles. It was the film that fixed by acting credentials.”
‘Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty’ is his first solo lead as Unni was part of an ensemble cast in his first three films. But the actor insists that he has no qualms being part of multi-starrers and wouldn’t mind playing a baddie if the role is challenging enough. The actor is tightlipped about his upcoming projects and after much coaxing says he will be doing an offbeat film soon. Unni also says he wants to experiment with all the genres. “I would like to do a rom-com or a dark comedy. I don’t want to limit myself to any
particular category,” he says.