The boy who made us swoon with his rugged handsomeness and natural acting in the 2017 movie Angamaly Diaries is set to sizzle the big screen this time as the broad-shouldered prisoner in Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil.
Angamaly's very own Antony Varghese opens up to Onmanorama about his 'jail experience' and transformation to 'Kottayamkaran' for the Tinu Pappachan movie.
As the teasers hint, Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil is a quintessential jail movie. As much as 80 per cent of the movie was shot in a jail set. How was this 'prison experience'?
It was truly a first to me. I have no real-life jail or police station experiences, except witnessing the questioning of a theft-accused at the Angamaly police station while visiting there for an accident-related case. I have heard police and jail stories from friends, especially an acquaintance of our writer. The jail set was in Thiruvananthapuram where we shot for almost 35 days. All these days, we were literally living in those jails. Coming out of it, I felt quite like a prisoner who was let out after his sentence.
How did you transform yourself into Jacob, a Kottayam native? More importantly, how did you pull off a true Kottayam slang?
Since I hail from Angamaly, I had no qualms about transforming myself into Vincent Pepe. But playing Jacob was different. I tried to do maximum justice to the slang. Dileep Kurian, our scriptwriter, is a Kottayam native. He helped develop the Kottayam-speak.
In an earlier interview, you said you left the seminary, unable to cope with restrictions. What is your concept of freedom?
I didn't leave the seminary because I was not able to cope with the restrictions. Certain instances made me feel that some of these restrictions compelled me to prove my faith and trust, which dispirited me. I had to make a choice and I packed my bags. For me, freedom is about being able to enjoy life without troubling others. As long as it doesn't affect another person, we have the freedom to live our life, or more importantly, celebrate our life.
In Angamaly Diaries, you managed to maintain a raw look and feel. In the teasers and trailer of Swathanthryam..., you are seen as a man with an unruly beard and steely determination, much like Pepe. Is Vincent Pepe's ghost still haunting you?
Definitely not. Pepe and Jacob are certainly different characters. In Angamaly Diaries, it was mostly about being natural, especially in the action and fight scenes. But in Swathanthryam, there are raw action scenes as well as stylish ones. This movie has been a 9-year-long dream of director Tinu Pappachan. It has a unique script and I have great faith in Tinu. Unlike what the trailers made you feel, Swathanthryam does not have much violence or bloodshed. I am not afraid of being typecast. I try to go for scripts that are unique and different. My future projects are totally different from the ones I have done so far.
Does Mollywood identify, accept and help fresh talents?
Malayalam film industry is an ideal place to start your career. It offers a welcome environment to newcomers. Established actors and seniors in the industry have treated me like a younger brother and offered support and guidance. Our industry thrives on fresh and innovative storylines and scripts. Our audience also accepts this. Everyone who was part of the Angamaly team found success in the industry.
Rumours are abuzz that you are teaming up with the Anagamaly Team again...
Yes, I am planning to do another movie with Lijo Jose Pellissery, titled Pothu. I have liked a couple of other scripts too, but nothing is finalized.