Irrespective of his characters’ screentime, Saiju Kurup has consistently managed to deliver impressive work in nearly every film he has been in.
Though he had played the solo lead in Mayookham (his debut), Sketch, and Scene No. 001, it’s been a long while since we have seen him do the same. Asked why and the actor says, “I’m not offered solo lead roles now.
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But to be honest, I never targeted them because it would take a lot of responsibility and put an undue amount of pressure on me. I’m actually very comfortable and content with supporting roles.”
In one of his earlier interviews, Saiju had said that he asks directors for roles.
Have things improved for him now? “Yes. Now I have a lot of options. But that hasn’t stopped me from asking for roles,” he laughs. “I have no qualms about doing that. Whenever a new film is announced, I ask its director if we could work together.”
The actor went through a rough patch in his career at one point, during which he found it difficult to get by. It was after Trivandrum Lodge (2012), in which he played a cinema reporter, that Saiju’s career revived.
In his latest film Janamaithri, which comes out on Friday, Saiju plays Samyukthan, a sales guy who becomes involved in certain incidents. Saiju is one of the film’s main leads alongside Sabumon Abdusamad.
Touted as a full-fledged comedy, the film marks the directorial debut of Annmariya Kalippilaanu and Alamara screenwriter John Manthrickal. Having worked with John in both films, Janamaithri is a reunion of sorts for Saiju, who feels that the success of Aadu has given them the encouragement to do more offbeat comedies.
“Anyone who enjoyed Aadu and Aadu-2 will like Janamaithri too,” he assures. “It belongs to the same genre. The aim is only to entertain.”
After the success of Aadu-2, Saiju was approached with around twenty comedy scripts but none of them worked for him. “I don’t see the point in doing a script that didn’t make me laugh,” he says. He calls the script of Janamaithri a rarity.
“I loved the concept. It made me laugh a lot. I didn’t know at first that John had written the character of Samyukthan for me.”
The film also sees him reuniting him with producer Vijay Babu, who also acted in and produced the Aadu films. “It was Vijay who saw the potential in the script after other producers turned it down,” continues Saiju.
“He also plays an interesting character in it. Just like the Sarbath Shameer character he did in Aadu, he will portray an extreme character in this too. Every actor, including Sabumon, has done their jobs wonderfully.”
As someone who is bombarded with many scripts, Saiju says he doesn’t like to waste someone’s time in case he doesn’t like the story. “If I like a story, I ask them to narrate the script. Otherwise, I don’t bother taking it any further.
Since I take a lot of time to read a script, I would rather they narrate it for me.
If I read it, it might take one or two months. I can’t read a script when I’m in the middle of shooting; at home, my attention goes to my family. What I couldn’t do in three months can be finished in one-and-a-half hours if the director or someone else does it for me.”
Asked which role of his is dear to him, he says, “I would say my debut role, and every character I did beginning from Trivandrum Lodge.”Saiju will be seen next in Upacharapoorvam Gunda Jayan, a comedy with Sharaf U Dheen and Siju Wilson.
Apart from that, he has Tovino Thomas’ Kalki, director Kamal’s Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal, Dileep-Arjun film Jack Daniel, Soubin Shahir’s Android Kunjappan, and Gauthami Nair’s directorial debut Vrutham, among others.