Kunchacko Boban is on cloud nine. After the birth of li'l Izzahak, the actor has become a busy bee in the industry with a number of movies in his kitty. The year 2019 marked a meaningful shift in Boban's career. Mollywood audience witnessed the transformation of Kunchacko from a romantic hero to a serious character artist. The actor attributes all the credits to his son Izza. As his very first crime thriller movie, Anjaam Pathiraa directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas is all set to hit the theaters, Onmanorama caught up with him for a free wheeling conversation. Here are some excerpts:
At a time when actors changed their names to sound modern, you entered Mollywood with your grandfather's name 'Kunchacko' and won the hearts. How did your name help you in creating a space for yourself in the industry?
That's right. I could have shortened my name as Bob or Chacks. I chose to maintain my given name Kunchacko. There are two reasons. One, Kunchacko is a name Keralites are familiar with, right from the beginning time of Malayalam cinema. Two, not many had the name Kunchacko Boban. Moreover, even if I wanted to change my name, my father wouldn't have permitted me. It is my grandfather's name.
How did you land in the industry?
I was trapped in this industry. I didn't actually dream of becoming an actor. One day, director Fazil came to my house and discussed the story of 'Aniyathipravu' with me. I humbly refused his offer to play the lead character 'Sudhi' in it saying 'it is a good movie, Pachikka. I don't want to spoil it.' Later, one of my friends called me egoistic for turning down such a golden offer. So I decided to attend the auditions just to prove it wasn't my cup of coffee.
I delivered a pathetic performance during the auditions. After a couple of days, Pachikka called me to inform that he had fixed me for the role. I was surprised.
People literally booed at 'Aniyathipravu' for a week after its release. After that, it was converted to deafening rounds of applauses. The movie ran for over 200 days in the theatres and later became a trendsetter of its time.
Was the 'romantic hero' tag a boon or a bain for you?
Personally, I consider it a blessing. But from a professional point of view, it is indeed a burden. As my latest flick 'Anjam Pathira,' which is a crime thriller, is all set to hit the theaters, I don't want to recall the 'Chocolate hero' tag which I had till recently.
How did you pull in the seriousness required to do a criminal psychologist?
I always had a special interest in crime thrillers. I was a school boy when Mammookka's 'Oru CBI Diarykkurippu' was released. I still remember how I mocked his costumes, tied my hands behind and walked across my house and courtyard. I have always thought of acting in such a movie. All my movies fall to either romantic or feel good genres.
Naturally, I didn't think twice before committing 'Anjaam, Pathiraa' when director Midhun Manuel Thomas approached me with its script. Moreover, this movie stands apart among the movies directed my Midhun.
It also has an amazing crew of technicians. Shyju Khalid dons the camera. Sushin Syam composes music. Saiju Sreedharan is editor and Supreme Sundar is the fight master.
What is your character in 'Anjaam Pathiraa?'
I play the role of a criminal psychologist in this movie. My character is a research scholar in psychology. He interacts with and collects data from psychopaths and criminals as a part of his research. He also runs a clinic parallel to it. So the movie develops as he joins a police team assigned with investigating a series of murders, possibly committed by a serial killer.
What took it so long to finish this movie?
The post production work of this movie took a lot of time. Naturally sound and visual graphics play a big role in presenting crime thrillers effectively. Moreover the movie demands such perfection. The producers were also patient enough to complete all the finishing touches before they brought it to the theaters. The release date was postponed multiple times.
What is the significance of the name Anjaam Pathiraa?
The incidents around which the plot revolves, take place on five midnights. The movie is about the investigation team's pursuit of a serial killer.
How well did you relate with your character?
I am equally curious about crime stories as Anwar Hussain, my character in this movie. I have a psychiatrist friend who narrates me stories of people who have very complicated mental issues. Some of his patients are people who lead a previleged, respected social life. I have heard of people who harm themselves or inflict injuries upon themselves and draw pleasure from it. I am quite curious about crime stories.
What homework do you do to transform to your characters?
I do homeworks and interactions before performing certain characters. My character in 'Virus' called Suresh Rajan was such a role. It was a real life character. I interacted with the real person and understood his part thoroughly before performing my character. Another role that required a lot of homework was the one of a male nurse in the movie 'Take Off.' My father was bed-ridden for a long time before he left the world. I have watched how my mother assisted and took care of him during his final days. That helped me perform the character of a male nurse in 'Take Off.'
For the criminologist character in 'Anjaam Pathiraa,' I held discussions with a psychiatrist friend of mine. I was surprised to know the kind of problems faced by people around us. I set feet in a psychiatrist's shoes and lent ears to such stories as a part of preparing myself for the character.
Have you ever confronted a mental patient?
In fact, yes. Once when I was awaiting a train at Ernakulam South railway station alone in a midnight, a middle-aged man approached me. He was drunk. I had a pair of badminton rackets in my back-pack. There was no one else around us. 'Come. Let us play badminton,' he demanded. I understood that he didn't recognize me. I refused his offer citing that there was not enough light to play. Suddenly he pulled out a dagger from a cover he held in his hand and threatened to kill me. I gathered my presence of mind and made it to the railway police control room somehow. They arrested the miscreant and it became a news in the following days. A year later, I came to know that the man who attacked me killed his brother in a similar incident and got arrested in Aluva. It was a very shocking incident which haunted me for several days afterwards.
How well has fatherhood affected your career?
It is a tremendous change. Sleep deprivation is taking a toll on my daily activities. Izza wakes up every two-and-a-half hours during night. Feeding him, lulling him to sleep and waking up every time kill our sleep. But it is all a pleasure. After all, it is for this incredible experience that we waited all these years.
You have become a busy bee in the industry post Izza's birth...
I have started getting versatile characters after he came to our life. He brought about a meaningful change in my career. I consider him my lucky charm. Look at all the characters I played after his birth – Dr Suresh Rajan of Virus, my role 'Pada' and now, a criminologist in 'Anjam Pathira.' Next is a Jis Joy movie. Izza has brought about good fortune. I get to work with people whom I always wanted to work with. I get to perform my dream characters. It is all because of him.
Izza has started sitting up-right. He crawls around everywhere in the home. He makes some sounds though he hasn't yet started speaking. He is a decent guy. So I think he has inherited my character (laughs.)
Heard that you were expecting a baby girl and you had even decided a name for her. Now that you have been blessed with a son, can you reveal that name?
I will announce it when my daughter is born. Isn't that the real heroism? (laughs)
What is your ambition when it comes to acting?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of movies that became milestones in Malayalam cinema. 'Aniyathipravu' was a trendsetter at its time. 'Traffic' literally brought a turning point in the direction practices of Mollywood. 'Chirakodinja Kinavukal' was a perfect spoof in Mollywood. Then came 'How Old Are You,' a much discussed women centric movie. 'Take off' and 'Virus' came afterwards. My ambition is to continue being a part of such significant movies that mark the progress of our industry.