Aju Varghese has no qualms committing to movies without knowing the script and the Jayasurya-starrer ‘Pretham’ was no different. Well, you should trust his instincts, considering that both his recent releases, ‘Pretham’ and ‘Ann Maria Kalippilanu’, are doing wonders at the box office. An upbeat Aju talks to City Express about how much he trusts his friends in the industry and how good movies always have an audience, irrespective of the cast.
‘Pretham’ is doing extremely well in theatres. Your comic presence has been hailed. Did you expect it?
Actually I told director Ranjith Shankar I am on board much before I heard the story. That is the amount of trust I place on my friends in the industry. My association with Ranjith, which began in ‘Punyalan Agarbathis’, is very positive and I love working with my friends, whatever be the role. But, one very welcoming trend about Pretham and Ann Maria Kalippilanu is that both the movies were made on a low budget, but got a very rousing reception at the box office. To be part of a project where the “story is the hero” is a very welcoming experience.
Taking up movies without reading the script can a very risky. It can even finish your career.
I am not a very ambitious person. I am not an actor who wants to do maximum characters or make money. I love cinema and wanted to be part of it. I enjoy the process and I know my friends well enough to understand that their movie would have something meaty in them. Then, I want to be comfortable on the sets and so far it has worked well for me.
Doing comedy isn’t easy. Is it a reflection of your true self?
Yes, to an extent, it is. I am a fun-loving person and I think it has helped. But, at the same time, I don’t think I am a great actor. Unlike Sharaffudin (Premam fame), I don’t improvise on the script. I can only do things that are in the script. The other day someone had written on Facebook that “Aju Varghese is a talentless actor who got lucky” and I think its true. I am a director’s actor and I do what the director asks me to.
You began as a quintessential ‘new-gen’ actor but now you are in the Priyardarshan movie (Oppam) and Dileep movie (Welcome to Central Jail). So, are you having the best of both worlds?
Actually, if you ask me I would say the only ‘new-gen’ movie I did was ‘Kili Poyi’, but, other than that, all the others were very earthy ones. Even my debut movie, ‘Malarvadi Arts Club’, was set in a rural backdrop. There is nothing new-gen in the movies that I did, except that the crew were youngsters. And I am doing a role in ‘Oppam’ because I asked Priyadarshan sir to cast me. I grew up watching his movies and it is a dream come true for me to act in his movie.
With technology and so many talented crews out there, isn’t it a great time to be in movies?
Talented people were always there and Malayalam industry is blessed with skilled actors and technicians. But, I think the biggest positive we have today is that the audience has become very welcoming to movies that have good content. If your movie is good, you really don’t need a poster face. ‘Ann Maria Kalippilanu’ is an example.
So, do you see yourself as a hero material or maybe in a character role?
Not at all (laughs). I don’t really want to be the one who shoulders the movies. I always strive hard to ensure that the business side of the movie I do is safe. In fact, that is my first priority. I don’t want to see my producer suffer. It’s for the same reason that I am not yet willing to do a movie where I am the hero.