Salim Kumar was removed from a Sibi Malayil movie for ‘poor acting skills’

Salim Kumar | Facebook

Salim Kumar who was felicitated with the Bharath Gopi award recently had once been removed from a film directed by Sibi Malayil due to his 'lack of acting skills'. Salim Kumar's first-hand experience was shared by director and actor Sidharth Sidhu in a social media post, which has now gone viral.
In the note, Salim Kumar wrote about the struggles he faced in the initial years of his career. During those days, he never thought he could find a steady source of income from movies. “After 'Ishtamanu Nooruvattom’ and 'Mera Naam Joker’, I was busy performing mimicry with my friends Nandu Poduval, George Eloor and Santhosh Kurumassery for our own troupe ‘Cochin Universal.’
“I did not have a phone in my house and people had to contact a funeral service centre at my native place, Chittattukara to reach me. One day, I received a call from production controller Sidhu Panakkal asking me to rush to the location of the Sibi Malayil movie ‘Nee Varuvolam’ in Kottayam. I was told that the role was meant for Kalabhavan Mani, a leading comedy actor, but Mani had no dates,” he recalled.

Salim Kumar Photo: Josekutty Panackal / Manorama
Actor Salim Kumar. Photo: Josekutty Panackal/Manorama

“As a beginner, I felt lucky to be selected for a movie by veteran director Sibi Malayil and travelled to Kottayam with a pair of shirts and pants. In my hurry, I did not even inform anybody where I went,” Salim Kumar,” the veteran actor wrote.
He was given the role of a peon at a parallel college. While Sibi never saw Salim Kumar’s stage shows or comedy programmes on Asianet television, the producer Prem Prakash had enjoyed the performances on TV and selected him as the replacement for Mani. “Kariyachan (Prem Prakash, who is also an actor) had taken a special interest in choosing me. In the movie, I had 11 scenes. We finished shooting nine of those scenes. The next was a combination scene with veteran actors Jagathy and Thilakan. I memorised my dialogue, but despite several takes, it did not get approval from the director, who said I lacked the timing of Jagathy chettan and Thilakan chettan.”

That night, Salim Kumar slept in a lodge room arranged by the producer and next morning, Sidhu Panakkal’s assistant Prabhakaran told him that he could leave as Thilakan had left the sets. “Thilakan chettan left yesterday night. You can pack your bags. We will call you when Thilakan chettan returns. I believed Prabhakaran. At that time, I was unaware of the politics behind making of movies. Prabhakaran dropped me at Kottayam railway station and I waited at the platform for him to bring my ticket. I waited for hours as I had no money with me. He never came with the ticket. Then I approached a kind-faced man and begged him to lend me Rs 20 to buy the ticket. I told him that I would return it as soon as I reached home. But the man patted me on the shoulder and told me that I needn’t return the money. He gave me Rs 20 and said that he enjoyed my programmes on TV. He told me he was honoured to help me. When I finally boarded the train, I was crying. I did not tell anyone at home about the incident,” Salim Kumar added.

Later, public relations officer Vazhoor Jose informed Salim Kumar that he was replaced by Indrans, another comedy actor. “Even Dileep did not tell me that I was no longer a part of that movie. At that moment, I realized that love and friendships had no place in the film field,” Salim Kumar wrote.
However, fate had other plans. Many years later, Salim Kumar became a busy actor and Prem Prakash pleaded with him to act in another movie produced by him, ‘Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum.’ The same production team of the movie ‘Nee Varuvolam’ was part of the project. This time, everyone waited for him to arrive and he was given a grant welcome. He was also selected as the second-best actor for ‘Achanurangatha Veedu’ by a jury led by Sibi Malayil.

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