Nivin also spoke about his perceived rivalry with Dulquer Salmaan.

Not nervous only excited about my first Tamil film Nivin Pauly to TNM
Flix Kollywood Saturday, November 25, 2017 - 13:21

At 33, this engineer-turned-actor is one of the most sought-after stars in the Malayalm film industry.

After debuting in Vineeth Srinivasan’s Malarvaadi Arts Club in 2010, Nivin Pauly was seen in minuscule roles in several multi-starrers until Vineeth offered him the lead role in Thattathin Marayathu a year later.

His puckish charm, versatility and rapport with his team members soon made him a favourite. With films like Neram, Ohm Shanti Oshana, Bangalore Days, Oru Vadakkan Selfie, Premam and Action Hero Biju, he’s established himself as a commercially viable hero.

Nivin has no hassles playing second fiddle to a heroine as is the case in Ohm Shanthi Oshana or Mili, nor is he fussy about appearing in diminutive roles like in Vikramadithyan, English or Ivide. As an actor Nivin is often accused of favouring the younger generation of filmmakers and playing it safe choosing commercial movies over performance-oriented roles.

The actor’s upcoming Tamil film Richie is all set to release on December 8th. At the audio launch of Richie in Chennai, the star opened up about the perceived box office rivalry with Dulquer Salmaan and moving away from the beaten track with an interesting line-up of films.

You are a popular hero in Malayalam where you are a huge star. What made you take time off to do a full-length Tamil movie?

I had always wanted to do a straight Tamil film. My earlier film Neram was a bilingual. Karthik Subbaraj bought the rights for one of my Malayalam short films directed by Alphonse Puthren and it became part of an anthology called Aviyal. I thought Richie would be the perfect script for me to do a proper Tamil film.

How do you feel about the way your earlier films like Bangalore Days and Premam were received in Tamil Nadu?

It’s every actor’s dream that their films do well and register a 100-day run at the box office. It doesn’t happen often, but Premam was a blessing. It did as well in Tamil Nadu as in Kerala and was well-received by the people in the state. I am really grateful for its success.

I had got several calls from the actors and technicians in the Tamil film industry after Bangalore Days, Premam and Action Hero Biju. I think if the film is good and connects emotionally, language doesn’t matter, people will watch it anyway.

Richie is being touted as a Nivin Pauly movie—clearly capitalising on the fan base you garnered with Premam. As the film rests squarely on your shoulders, do you feel any pressure?

I’m not nervous, only excited about doing a Tamil film. I don’t feel any pressure as I am only concentrating on giving a good quality film. The post production, music, sounds- everything have to be in sync with the film. They should not lag, but be engaging and moving. These are certain factors that we have been working on during post production. We have been editing and shuffling the scenes. We are happy with the result and I’m not worried about the film. There’s no point in feeling any pressure. The focus should instead be on delivering a quality film. The music and sound treatment is very different in Richie, so is the making technique.

You chose to work with a newbie director Gautham Ramachandran. How’s the experience been?

I have known Gautham for the past five years or so. He’s worked with reputed filmmakers like Rajeev Menon and Mysskin. He had a clear idea about the making, the soundtrack and besides, the film is a remake of a Kannada film (Ulidaravu Kandanthe). This film is Gautham’s take on the original. You will find that the first few scenes, the interval, the ending and the narration are all entirely different in the Tamil version.  We had already seen the original film, so I had a reference point as far as the character goes. I have not tried to mimic the actor in the Kannada version, but have tried to do it to the best of my ability.

Was it easy to switch to Tamil? What kind of preparations went into the role?

The dubbing required quite some time and effort on my part. I had to work on the slangs in Tamil. But the role as such did not require much preparation because the character I played was spontaneous and unpredictable. I have never played the role of a fearless, local, Tamil rowdy. I hope the audiences in Tamil Nadu like it.

Your films have been huge successes and you command a good box office opening in Kerala. You are often compared with Dulquer Salmaan, who is pitted against you as a box office rival. How do you respond to that?

I never respond to such things. I have a very good relationship with Dulquer. It all depends on what we focus on—whether we concentrate on the competition or on giving good films.  What happens with others’ films, successes, failures—nothing disturbs me. I am only concentrating on my films- on making them better, releasing them more widely, marketing them properly and trying to reach more audiences.

You also seem to favour the younger (new-generation) filmmakers than the older lot, except a stray film or two with a Lal Jose (Vikramadithyan) and Sathyan Anthikkad (Puthiya Theerangal.) Is that your comfort zone?

It’s not about the comfort zone. I just wait for the right script. I have worked with newcomers in 80 per cent of the films as the scripts excited me more. I don’t differentiate between new and old directors—if the script is good and if I can handle the role, I just accept them. My priorities while choosing a script is just that I have to be excited by the script. That’s my only criterion.

You are currently working on a biopic on a Robin Hood-styled highwayman directed by Rosshan Andrrews. That’s a first for you—could you tell us more about the film?

Yes, I am currently shooting for Kayamkulam Kochunni. It’s a biopic and the biggest film that I have done in my career so far- both in terms of the canvas and the budget. It’s a period film and shoot is time-consuming. The shooting schedule itself may last for about 100-125 days. It’s an interesting film.  

The poster of Moothon garnered a lot of attention. The film is being produced by Anand L Raai and Anurag Kashyap is collaborating with director Geetu Mohandas in writing the dialogues. Tell us more:

Nivin: Moothon is a totally different experience for me. The team is very vibrant. Fifty percent of the film is in Hindi and the Malayalam parts are in Lakshadweep dialect. I still have a schedule left.

And you are teaming up with Shyama Prasad again for Hey Jude after English: An Autumn in London and Ivide?

Nivin: Yes, this would be my third film with Shyama Prasad. I had always wanted to work on a full-length role with him, as the earlier ones were multi-hero films. Shyam sir’s films have a different set of audience and his films are totally different from the films that I do regularly. So I want to explore that area also.

Instead of doing commercial films all the time, I also have to do a few performance-oriented roles, especially with a director who brings out the best from an actor. It’s always refreshing to work with such directors who mentor you on the nuances of acting and teach you to emote. Guidance from such directors will always help you grow as actors.

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