Anoop Menon knows the hypocrisy that runs in the Malayali vein too well.
That precisely is why he wrapped a rampant phenomenon in today’s society, extra marital affairs, with a reality coating and presented it as Cocktail — one of the few films in recent times that is continuing a dream run at the box office. The guardians of pre-constructed moral fabric got the intended message as did the sinners.
In an interview with expresso, the LLB gold medallist whose dalliance with the
camera opened to him new vistas, gets talking about his tryst with
cinema, on and off screen. The making of ‘Cocktail’ Anoop is not segued
into the woodwork of actors who endorse bragging as a style statement. The last thing he is in is the I-me-mine mode as we ask him about the success formula of Cocktail which came like a whiff of fresh air in an industry bogged down by done to death stories.
“Cocktail is the success of team work. In fact, it was the film’s assistant director’s suggestion thatbrought about a twist in the story line. And it clicked. It’s unfair on my part to hog the credit.”
When he decided to remodel the story of the Canadian flick ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’ in Kerala premises, Anoop was aware of the task at hand — convincing the Malayali psyche.
“Extra marital affairs are wide spread in our society, too. Remember how our mothers used to feed us fish and meat even as we detested it by coating it with some rice and curd? I’ve employed the same formula in Cocktail.
Many people have this streak for adventure. While there may be reasons behind seeking physical and mental pleasures outside marriage, the film conveys a positive message coated in a reality check.”
From Law College to tinseltown Ask him how he commenced his journey from the corridors of Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, to the mini screen and later the silver screen and Anoop will tell you that it was the cinema enthusiast who got the first rank at the university level. He enjoyed college days to the hilt, bunked classes and was at his exuberant best. “Our education system is such that if you burn the midnight lamp for one month before the exams, you’ll fare fairly well.
And I did just that. I had a knack for writing exams with a skill to camouflage my ignorance.” The literature enthusiast had, from his schooldays at Christ Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram, fancied visualising the characters he came across in books and gradually, cinema became his passion. The creative freedom and gleeful abandon at college helped him weave his dreams.
Anoop’s date with the camera started when he became the anchor of the morning show Ponpulari on Surya TV. “I realised that I could talk endlessly
before the camera. What took me forward was the huge confidence
Justice V R Krishna Iyer instilled in me when he saw me perform at a moot
Later he did some 300 interviews —from violinist L Subramaniam to former Indian President R Venkitaraman — on Kairali’s Shubhadinam before acting in Venu Nagavally’s serial December Mist. Megham and Swapnam on Asianet and Sthreejanmam on Surya was his big ticket to the hearts of the family crowd which solemnised him the proverbial son, the quintessential husband. “I have never considered myself a great actor. But I know people like me. Else, I would have withered away.”
When his first film — Vinayan’s Kattuchembakam released in 2002 —
flopped, Anoop realised that as per the superstition in filmland, the onus of
the film’s failure falls on the debutant.
After a handful of roles in films such as Ivar, Kaiyoppu and Rock and Roll
came Rajeevnath’s Moksham in which he starred with Zeenath Aman.
“Zeenath was a revelation. Listening to her flower power generation tales was an experience in itself.” Then he did some “small films for survival.”
Anoop’s association with director Ranjith saw the duo joining hands in
Thirakkatha and he won the Kerala State Film Award for the second best
Anoop first wrote the script for a Hindi film, Anubhav, starring Sanjay
Suri and Gul Panag, which dealt with the life of a gigolo. “We were not serious
about our Bollywood entry. The film had a novel subject which could have been dealt with in a better way.”
Then he scripted Pakalnakshathrangal where he played Mohanlal’s son.
Project ‘Lavender’ Anoop is now working on newcomer Altas Ali’s Lavender. “Altas wanted me to pen the dialogue of the film. I wanted certain changes in the script but he wouldn’t budge. I was bemused by the conviction of the new comer. And that enticed me to work with him. Watch out for this guy — he is waiting in the wings to flourish.”
Anoop is also playing the part which was meant for Atul Kulkarni. The bachelor status Quiz him on his bachelor status and Anoop says he can afford to be choosy because of his marital status. “I wish to take forward my bachelorhood for a few more years.
Perhaps when solitude crunches me, I’ll reconsider the decision,” says Anoop, who has an abiding passion for travel.