The scriptwriter and actor talks about his beginnings in the industry, his hiatus and more.

Writing acting and disappearing Ahmed Sidhique interview on Kakshi AmminipillaAhmed Sidhique
Flix Interview Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 15:00

Ahmed Sidhique does not go to film festivals. In Thiruvananthapuram, his hometown, a day before the release of his new film Kakshi: Amminipilla, Ahmed, who does the title role for the first time, is reluctant to attend the ongoing documentary film festival. “I never go to film festivals,” he says and chooses instead a café for our interview, that he knows would be least crowded at a certain hour of the evening. He is afraid that he will be described thus, as one unwelcoming of the crowds. “Will people think it is jaada (arrogance)?” he asks.

It is strange that an actor, who has to face the camera and say lines in front of a crew, is shaken by a crowd. But it has always been so, even before he came to the world of cinema, he says. Counting from the first film he wrote a script for – a segment called Mrithyunjayam in the anthology Kerala Café – it’s exactly 10 years now, since Ahmed landed in this world, if you can call it landing when the man shuttles between Kerala and Saudi Arabia and disappears for months in between.

“Yes, it is four years since I last acted in a film, and that was for KL 10 Patthu,” he says. He has been writing in the years in between, but not anything for cinema. It is all non-fiction that might end up as a book of articles. He can’t give a definite label but it’s broadly history – he loves history, and politics (Ahmed’s Facebook posts cover politics and always end with Godspeed, a habit he began in school). Kakshi: Amminipilla, with Asif Ali in the lead, has neither. It is a fun film but with a socially relevant topic, Ahmed says, without revealing much of the story. But you can deduce so much, that it is a story compelling enough to pull him out of his four year reverie, writing indescribable non-fiction.

“I liked it as soon as I heard Dinji tell me the story,” he says. Dinji is what he calls Dinjith Ayyathan, the animator who has decided to drop his high paying animation job and direct a Malayalam movie with a pair of men who had once worked magic together in Salt and Pepper. Ahmed’s first acting job as KT Mirash in Salt and Pepper, the annoying geeky friend of Asif Ali’s character, is still how a lot of people recognise him. That or else Sam Kutty of Praise The Lord or  Mustafa of Thattathin Marayathu.

 

But it is for the first time that he has done a full length character, along with Asif Ali. Ahmed’s ‘Amminipilla’ – Shajith Kumar Amminipilla – is someone who hates being called Amminipilla and wants a divorce from his wife. Asif Ali plays his lawyer, Pradeepan Vakeel. We know so much from the trailer. “Eight years ago when I worked with Asif in Salt and Pepper, he would come for scenes for which he is not needed, just to help me get my reactions right, ‘cause he is supposed to be at the other end. I see that he still does that, and not just for me but for every actor. I have also seen him grow into playing characters like those in Nirnayakam, Kaatu and Uyare. He seems to be in tough competition with himself and his previous performances.”

And he – yes, he too - has grown more confident than he was as KT Mirash ("I still close my eyes for my scenes in Salt and Pepper"). Back then Aashiq Abu, the director, had to convince him that he’d be good as Mirash. And it was not that hard to act in front of a crew he knew so well. “It is always nice to be even a small part of a nice film,” he says.

And this film has made him feel nice. Amminipilla is an NRI like Ahmed. “No, not like me. He works hard!” Ahmed says seriously. Ahmed had once tried working for his dad’s business in Saudi Arabia before he realised he was quite bad at doing a 9 to 5 job. So after his BBA, he went on to do his Masters in Political Science and secretly told a friend about his dream to write films. He had begun the work much earlier, in class 12, after finding on his slow dial-up internet connection a blog for writers, that had an article on writing scripts. He’d watch scenes from movies like Sarkar (Hindi) and try to write the scripts of those. Later, when he came to Kerala and joined university, he read Malayalam scripts by Sreenivasan and Blessy and realised that it was a whole different format. More scripts came from Ahmed’s pen – which he still keeps but calls very bad ones.

After Mrithunjayam – the film that saw Fahadh Faasil’s comeback after seven years -- he wrote a script for Aashiq Abu in 2014 – Gangster. But after that, it’s mostly been only acting.

Ahmed is the kind that easily sits back, finding his own faults ("I was bad in studies, bad in my office job!’) and easily admiring others around him. After hailing Asif, he talks about Shibila, who plays his wife in the film. “She is an anchor who is acting for the first time. She put on about 20 kilos for her role in the film, and then after the shooting, worked hard to lose all that she gained! Such dedication,” he says.

Perhaps he doesn’t realise it and someone needs to tell him this, that there is something admirable about the way he presents himself too, on and off screen.

 

 

 

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