Thursday started off as another day at work for Girish NK, principal correspondent at Manorama News. In the afternoon, he did a live telecast at the Information Department on the Kerala State Film Awards, gushing about the big winners Take Off and Ottamuri Velicham.
As he read out the names of the winners of the awards, right there, in the middle, was his son Chandrakiran’s name – he had won a special mention for his role in the film Athishayangalude Venal.
“I have been reporting on the State Film Awards for the past 5-6 years now. So when the list of awardees was released, I just went live and reported as I would on any other day. My son had an exam today and he came back home to watch me report the news about his big win. He was very excited about that,” Girish bursts out laughing as he speaks to TNM.
Athishayangalude Venal, directed by Prasanth Vijay, is the story of a child obsessed with the idea of invisibility.
Eight-year-old Chandrakiran had the honour of having his name mentioned by the jury, along with more experienced stars, such as Vijay Menon for his performance in Hey Jude.
“We had no expectations as the movie was not listed in the children’s film category. In fact, Prasanth was particular about not categorizing it as a children’s film. So when the jury mentioned Chandrakiran’s name in the actor’s category, it indeed came as a big surprise for us,” Girish says.
Asked how Chandrakiran bagged the role, Girish says that some of his colleagues were involved in the technical side of things in the film and they were looking for a boy around Chandrakiran’s age to play the lead role.
“They asked me if he can do it. I told them that he has had no prior experience acting in films. However, he spoke Malayalam very well and that was a prerequisite as the dialogues had to be rendered on the spot, as in they couldn’t be dubbed later. So we decided to give it a shot. It was purely by chance,” adds Girish.
Chandrakiran, who is now studying in Class 5, has also acted in a 20-minute short film, shot during his summer holidays. However, the family is yet to decide if the 8-year-old will take up more films in the future.
“We decided to do Athishayangalude Venal because it was only a month’s shoot and I had my friends in the crew. So he had a safe place to stay. Further, taking leave from school will be a challenge with each year. But not every project will be so ideal, so we are yet to decide if he will do films in the future,” says Girish.
The film premiered at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2017 and was also screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) 2017 in Thiruvananthapuram. It will also be screened at the UK-Asia Film Festival in London on March 16.