KOCHI: In the trending PhonePe advertisement, actors Dulquer Salmaan and Samantha Prabhu are seen making lame excuses to a traffic policeman for not having two-wheeler insurance. The light-hearted advertisement, which is now telecast on TV and OTT platforms, must have put a smile on our faces. The policeman’s hearty laugh at the duo’s silly act, especially, is quite contagious. Now, when you are travelling through the main stretches of Thiruvananthapuram, don’t be surprised if you spot the same traffic policeman.
Gibin Gopinath, who stood out with his pleasant smile, works in the Police Control Room under the Traffic Police wing on Cantonment Station Road in the capital city. The nationwide advertisement is a campaign to encourage two-wheeler insurance across the country. But the nearly one-minute-long ad has changed the life of 38-year-old Gibin, a Koliyakode native who has been serving as a civil police officer since 2007. Gibin is on cloud nine for having received a big break in his, incredibly, 30-year acting career.
In real life, the officer is always vigilant on the road -- keeping a track of the lawbreakers along with the other officials in the control room -- unlike what his character in the advertisement depicts. With the gig, Gibin has become a star cop and many even click selfies with him. The officer is enjoying this newfound fame.
“For me, it is more like a dream. My family and friends knew my passion for acting. Despite having done small roles in films, the advertisement has been accepted widely. In fact, many youngsters recognise me as the ‘bike insurance policekaran’ these days. They stop their vehicles to take selfies, and some even tease me saying ‘chettah, bike insurance undallo alle’ (You have bike insurance, right?),” quips Gibin. He was selected for the role from among two lakh applications from south India, which were later screened by the Mumbai-based production company, Coconut Films.
His mannerisms and his laughter were the highlights of his role in the ad.“As a police officer, I felt the subject of the ad to be societally relevant. I have seen how two-wheelers are booked by other officers but that did not influence my act.I was given the space for improvisation and thus the laugh and the mannerisms happened. I am familiar with Dulquer and he boosted my confidence with his comforting nature. My first scene was with Samantha, whom I adore as an actress,” he says.
Gibin, who has been an ardent movie lover, kickstarted his acting journey at the age of eight, especially through telefilms and a few movie roles. He pursued his acting skills through school competitions and theatre workshops at the Rangaprabhath Theatre, Venjaramoodu. Having earned a bachelor’s degree from MG College, Gibin has appeared in a total of 47 Malayalam films to date in supporting roles. For netizens, he is more familiar with the series ‘PC Kuttanpilla Speaking’ released by the Kerala Police on their YouTube channel in 2020.
“Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to accept the PhonePe ad’s audition invitation, as it was a project which involved a huge star cast. I sent in the video clip as demanded by the casting agency. I was surprised when they informed me that I was selected for the project to be shot in Andheri West,” says Gibin, who is a father of three-and-a-half-year-old twins.
The ad -- which is broadcast in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada -- has brought many films offers into Gibin’s kitty. Sharing more about his dreams, Gibin concludes, “My dream is to perform at least one dialogue scene with Vijay Sethupathi. Though it took 30 years for me to get acknowledged, I am content now. A role in a big-budget movie is in the pipeline.