This year seems to be a good one for Shine Tom Chacko. The actor will be seen in two highly anticipated films — Anuraj Manohar’s Ishq and Khalid Rahman’s Unda. His roles in these films, according to him, are the most substantial of all the roles he has done so far.
We hear that your character in Ishq has negative shades and is one of the film’s major highlights. Is this the first time that you’re doing a role like this?
I wouldn’t exactly say it’s the first time. But it’s certainly the first character I’ve come across with so much detailing. I have done similar roles in the past but not one that’s so layered as this one. I wouldn’t call it a purely negative character either.
Alwin, my character, is someone who experiences all kinds of emotions that a common man goes through. Normally when you see a positive or negative character, you only see one side of that character. But the good thing about Malayalam cinema today is that we get to see characters with multiple shades. They’re neither positive nor negative.
Is it because you got more time to work on your character?
Yes. That was the first major advantage we had. There are two sequences in Ishq that can be considered as its main highlights. Most of the time, a certain amount of time is devoted to each character before moving to the next scene.
But in the case of Ishq, the duration of sequences — not shots — are long enough to allow the characters sufficient breathing space so as to give the viewer a proper understanding of his/her behaviour. This is what makes Ishq unique. As far as an actor is concerned, such an approach gives you the feeling of being on stage. There is plenty of scope for fine-tuning your performance.
What approach did Anuraj and Ratheesh Ravi (writer) employ to get your performance right?
Ishq is a film that progresses through conversations. Ratheesh had penned down every situation and situation neatly. We simply reproduced everything from the script as it is on the screen. The presentation of the written word, however, might slightly vary depending on how each actor does it. But Anuraj and Ratheesh had given us the freedom to do a gesture or say a particular piece of dialogue the way we see fit as long as we put out the desired results.
But what you see on the screen conveys everything that was in the script. One other advantage is that we shot the film in the order it was written in. I find this method immensely helpful because it becomes easy to track where the character is at emotionally. In most films, the first thing being shot may not necessarily be the opening sequence.
Tell us about Unda and your character in it.
Unda is about a group of police officers who travel from a police camp to a Maoist-affected area in Chhattisgarh for election duty. Most of us have seen or read about such incidents only through the news. But you only realise the gravity of the situation once you get there. This is what the characters in Unda also go through. I play a senior officer called Jojo Samson, who happens to be the havildar at a police camp. In places like that, seniors may behave rudely with the juniors, making them do all the work. Jojo is one such character.
How was the experience of working with Mammootty?
He is very sincere. He is raw when it comes to expressing his feelings. Usually, we come across people who always smile regardless of what is actually going on in their heads. We have no way of knowing whether they liked something or not. But Mammootty is not like that. He is not artificial. He always expresses his true emotions. He had a clear idea of what this film was all about and how the film should be presented in front of audiences. When the first-look poster was being designed, he wanted all the actors to have equal prominence instead of having his character being the sole focus.
What is special about the characters in Unda?
There are ten main characters in the film. Unlike those ‘men on a mission’ films of the past where most of the characters look and sound the same, each of the ten characters in Unda has their own individuality — a distinct trait that sets one person apart from the rest.
These ten characters have ten ways of dealing with a particular situation. All credit for that goes to Khalid Rahman and Harshad (writer). They got the best out of all the actors. Khalid, especially, surprised me. I couldn’t believe this is the same guy who made a romantic comedy like Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. Since actors are the most insecure people on the planet, it’s not easy to make all of them comfortable on the sets. We never experienced any of that tension on the Unda sets.