The emaciated figure is his USP, and so is his fine onscreen sense of humour. Indrans, who has a wide repertoire of over 200 films, including that of Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Padmarajan, has been an engaging presence in Malayalam cinema for more than 30 years. The actor, for whom the body language and voice have been powerful tools of expression, has now received a role that can be truly considered as his homage to one of the greatest comedian of all times. As the year marks the centenary of Charlie Chaplin’s entry into films, Indrans, gets ready to play a Malayalam comedian devoted to Chaplin in R Sarath’s Buddhan Chirikkunnu. Says the actor, “It is a dream-come-true moment for me.”
Indrans reveals that he has always been a Chaplin fan, and has watched most of his classics. In Buddhan Chirikkunnu, Indrans plays Indraguptan, an actor who is charmed by the maverick English icon. “He is a successful comedian who has a tinge of humour in himself. He carries himself quite egoistically, wearing a coat like Chaplin. Chaplin has always been with him in his mannerisms and mind. But after a certain point of time, he gets repetitive as an actor. It is then that he gets the chance to play the great actor’s role on screen. The dilemmas and conflicts within the mind of the actor form the crux of the movie,” says the actor.
Like Chaplin, Indraguptan too has a melancholic childhood filled with loneliness. “He loses his mother early, and is unaware about who his father is. The dreaded past haunts him throughout his life, and this film is a peek into the family life of the actor as well,” says Indrans.
Though this can be termed as significant turn in the career of Indrans, it is not the first time the actor is playing a meaty role of this sort. The comedian has already donned the garb of the hero, an ardent political worker, in Sudharil Sudhan in 2009.
Indrans used to be a quintessential element in many of Padmarajan’s films. A costumier who began his life with a small tailoring shop in Thiruvananthapuram, Indrans entered films as an assistant to the costume designer. His foray into acting came with a small role in Choodattam that starred Prem Nazir. “It was an unexpected move,” observes the actor, reminiscing those early days.
Talking about the directors who have given him some small yet remarkable roles, the slender actor is overwhelmed by nostalgia, and the one name he holds precious is that of Padmarajan. “He was one filmmaker who always gave me a role, even if it was small,” says the actor.
Indrans has associated with many evergreen movies of Padmarajan like Aparan, Innale, Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal and Njan Gandharvan as an actor and costume designer.
“Looking back,” he says ruefully, “it was the golden period of Malayalam cinema and the industry was replete with genuinely creative people. After the demise of Padmarajan, I have felt like an orphan, though I sustain like a leaf floating on water.” he adds.
Indrans has acted in films of all genres, including the oeuvre of Adoor Gopalakrishnan and M P Sukumaran.
He played remarkable roles in Adoor’s movies like Nizhalkuthu, Naalu Pennungal, Kallante Makan, and in Sukumaran’s Drishtantham and Ramanam.
But it was the commercial outings that gave the actor a space to perform as a comedian. His hilarious roles in films like CID Unnikrishnan (1994) made him an endearing presence in Malayali households. He says in a sincere tone, “For an actor with such a thin disposition as me, all the roles that came my way are bonuses.”
The talented actor closely follows the journey of the younger breed of actors who play humorous roles like Aju Varghese and Sreenath Bhasi, and their work has impressed him. Indrans, who is at present also acting in Apothikiri as Jayasurya’s father, says, “The industry has plenty of talented actors now though humour is not the only essential factor these days.