I don’t agree with glorification of misogyny in films: The Kunchacko Boban interview
Kunchacko Boban was in Dubai, two days before Valentine’s Day. And then he fell ill. But he watched from far, the good reviews that his recent movie was earning in Kerala. Allu Ramendran was a lovely beginning to a new year, and he speaks happily of the film and the very ordinary character of a policeman that he plays in it.
“He is a police jeep driver, a commoner. The film itself runs on a simple thread but it is the narration that makes it interesting. That and the emotional content. Ramendran’s emotional travel is what attracted me to the film,” Kunchacko says in a nasal voice. The cold has not left him yet. But the voice is easily recognisable. We've heard it for 20 odd years, from the time of his second movie. Only in the very first – Aniyathipravu – did Krishnachandran dub for the new young hero, who, despite that, went on to become an overnight heartthrob for women of all ages.
22 years in cinema
It was a time when senior actors had established themselves in doing a certain kind of role – alpha heroes and family men and/or comedians. There was a void for college story heroes. Kunchacko, then 20, stepped in comfortably. It was going to be a few years before another bunch of young actors would finish their high school and join Chackochan – as he is fondly called – and there’d be movies led by a group of heroes – the likes of Swapnakoodu.
Kunchacko ran the risk of being stereotyped as the romantic hero, the all-too-nice one in a gang, till he played a semi negative character in Swapnam Kondu Thulabharam, playing the jealous brother of Suresh Gopi. And Ee Snehatheerathu where he plays a possessive son to Jaya Prada, having some sort of an Oedipus complex. Kunchacko won the State Special Jury Award for the role.
Afterwards, there was a noticeable gap when he supposedly went on to do real estate, sticking to his wife Priya and others in the family – the much known Kunchacko family that owns Udaya Pictures, which has produced many movies in Malayalam over the years.
But he walked back into cinema just as soon as he had left, it would seem, for there were once again movies featuring him in familiar roles. Just as you thought he had stepped aside, doing second lead or one-among-many heroes in movies like Lollypop, Mummy & Me and Four Friends, there came Ordinary. The movie, for which he teamed up with actor Biju Menon and played a bus conductor, worked up some magic, and Kunchacko was back, without letting it be known that he had ever been away.
Learning from mistakes
All this experience – 22 years if you count from Aniyathipravu – does not mean that he does everything right, Kunchacko says. “Experience is a big factor and how we use it in different situations is also very critical but that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. I do, and it is when you accept those mistakes, learn from them and correct them, that you use your experience. You should be able to change, when changes come (with time).”
There have been some mistakes in his choice of movies last year. Some just did not work. Kunchacko reckons it could partly be because the release dates were all close to each other, but that was not something he could help.
“I give my dates so that there is some gap between each of the movies I do. I plan it so that I finish one movie, take a break, and then begin work on another. But sometimes, when the shooting gets delayed for one movie, another one cannot start on time. These and other issues may lead to movies coming out together, at the same time, or one after another. Last year, especially after the flood, movies were pending, and got released together,” he explains.
But he agrees that it is also the quality of a movie that decides its fate, ultimately. “Perhaps some movies, in the second half of the year, could not do so well. Luckily this year, I could do a movie like Allu Ramendran,” he says.
On AMMA and the actor assault case
In a recent interview, Kunchacko had spoken about the actor assault case that had changed everything for Malayalam cinema in the last two years – including the creation of the Women in Cinema Collective, the many exchanges they’ve had with the artistes’ association, AMMA.
Kunchacko, who was once an executive council member of AMMA, however, says that it is not right to comment on the case when it is still under investigation.
“When there is an issue, everyone – especially in the social media – gives an opinion without proper understanding of the issue or based on hearsay. When one gives out such opinions about what is right and wrong, what is true and not as they like, it creates a clouded atmosphere. Let the clouds clear, let there be a court verdict, and then we can come up with concrete suggestions, then we can talk about rights and wrongs," he says.
On the glorification of misogyny in films
But, he agrees that it is not good to glorify misogyny in movies – a topic that came up after the actor assault case when his colleague from the industry Prithviraj spoke against it. Later, there was a debate about actor Mammootty’s misogynistic lines in the movie Kasaba. Actor Parvathy, who critiqued the film in a panel, faced a lot of online abuse.
“It is fine if we show misogyny as something wrong, in films. But glorification of misogyny is something which I can’t accept,” Kunchacko says.
The actor, now having taken the gap he likes to take after a movie is over, is working on his next – Virus by Aashiq Abu – about the real life story of the Nipah virus attack.
“I play the real life character of Dr J Arunkumar in the film. But my character’s name is Suresh Raj,” he says. And then again, after a gap, he will act in a movie for E4 Entertainment, directed by Shahid, shot mostly in Kolkata.
“It will be a sports drama and Nithya Menen is going to act opposite me. I am very excited about that project too," he says.