It was the day Renjit Shekar Nair was going to leave the sets of Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham. His part was done in seven days. He had heard Mohanlal, the hero of the movie, would be coming the next day. Just when he thought he would miss seeing the actor he had for long adored, there came the man, dressed all in white. Mohanlal had got his dates wrong and came a day early. Excited, Renjit asked his friend and AD Revathy Suresh – daughter of producer Suresh Kumar and actor Menaka – to introduce him.
“She has grown up seeing all of them, so she didn’t get my excitement till she realised what I was waiting for,” says Renjit, like a typical fan boy, days after shooting for his third film. It is a small role in Marakkar, as chief commanding officer of Kochi Rajavu (King) played by Suresh Kumar. Much smaller than the two noticeable characters he has played so far in Ottamuri Velicham and Dakini - both directed by his friend Rahul Riji Nair.
“I had no idea Ottamuri Velicham would win a state award – and we won four!” says Renjit, who is also a team lead at Infosys in Thiruvananthapuram. It was when he joined his first job as a software engineer at Quest in Technopark, that Renjit first met Rahul. Both of them had a certain love for cinema, and began doing short films together.
Rahul and Renjit
“I must have acted in 10 to 15 short films in college – all amateur stuff – before I met Rahul,” Renjit says. He is all praise for his filmmaker friend, whom he describes as good in whatever he attempts – be it his IT job or filmmaking. Renjit got a glimpse of it when they participated in a contest to make and submit a short film within 50 hours of being given a theme. The first time they participated, they came in the ninth place out of 1500 entries, and the next year, they came first out of 2500.
“That was Troll Life – a comedy where two men following two rival political parties get into a fight. I played one of the men," he says.
There was also a documentary that the two worked together in – Human Boundaries, on a group of Hindu refugees who walked from Pakistan to India. Renjit assisted in the project. “That documentary got noticed, and Rahul was sponsored by an NGO to tour the US with the film in ten cities," he shares.
When Rahul made his first feature film Ottamuri – after a lot of struggle and walking away from doors that closed on him – Renjit played the brother of the male lead (Deepak Parambol). Both characters are antagonists. In Dakini, too, he played a villain, and again as the brother of the antagonist, played by Chemban Vinod.
Chemban Vinod and Renjit in the sets of 'Dakini'
“That’s the first time we go out of our comfort zone – with actors like Chemban and Aju, both of whom became very close with the team later,” Renjit says.
“My first shot was with Aju Varghese. You can observe how experienced actors like him could make a difference when you work with them – like the way he changed a slap into a punch in that first scene, it was remarkable,” Renjit says and you can hear his passion for cinema.
“It’s just always been there but this day job at Infosys – that’s my bread and butter. So far, my managers have been very supportive.”
Renjit has also finished a fourth film now – by debutant Venu Nair, who has made a number of short films and directed television series.
“It is called Jalasmathi, it is on the practice of thalaikoothal, observed in some parts of Tamil Nadu, in which an elderly parent is killed so the children can get their jobs. I said yes as soon as I heard veteran Tamil actor MS Bhaskar is playing the main lead. I play a villain again but I don’t mind. At this stage in my career, I am open to doing all kinds of characters,” he says and adds as an afterthought, “I think I would really like to do comedy.”