Wide shoulders, fit arms, rough and tough looks and of course super handsome, that is Babu Antony for you. He survived in the industry for long, with a hiatus, with his fiery actions and good nose for films. It helps that he is proficient in martial arts and can execute a split like that 'God of splits' Jean Claude Van Damme. And for that the Malayalam film action star credits everything to his role model Bruce Lee.
Actor Babu Antony always ensures that his viewers get engrossed with the characters he portrayed, however big or small it be. And now, he is hoping for a big break with his soon-to-be-released big budget movie 'Kayamkulam Kochunni' starring Nivin Pauly. Ahead of its release, Onmanorama caught up with the veteran actor from Houston, Texas, for a free-wheeling chat.
The Kochunni tale
It was almost a year back when Babu Antony took to his Facebook page sharing a few videos and photographs of learning to ride a horse. "Playing 'Ithingal Thangal' in 'Kayamkulam Kochchunni', directed by Rosshan Andrrews, scripted by Bobby Sanjay, produced by Mr.Gokulam Gopalan," the actor captioned his photo on his social media page then.
Ask him about the long duration of shoot, he says, “Portraying a real-life character is always a challenging job. A period film definitely needs thorough study. For 'Kayamkulam Kochunni', director Rosshan Andrrews took about one-and-a-half years of research and he wanted everything to be crisp and perfect."
Reminiscing the climax shoot done in Sri Lanka, he shared, “Initially, it was all good. But with passing time, the weather condition became worse. In a particular rain sequence, Nivin had a fracture and we waited for him to resume. So, one can definitely expect some amazing Kalaripayattu sequences in the movie.”
Nothing 'new' in 'new-gen'
The actor who made his film debut three decades ago was never away from the big screen. In fact, he enthralled with small yet pivotal acts every now and then. Lastly, he was seen in the Prithviraj-starrer 'Ezra 'in the role of Rabbi and now he will teaming up with Nivin as his trainer in the movie.
Talk about the so called 'new-gen' actors, Babu Antony said, “Working with Prithvi, was like reviving old memories. I have worked with Sukumaran chettan (Prithviraj's father) and back then he used to bring his kids on sets. I know him since a young age. Nivin Pauly told me about how he used to stick my photos in a notebook and admired my movies. Probably because I received ample respect from all of them I never felt the gap of generations. More or less, I am an advanced thinker and always try to be friendly with everyone.
On working in the 90s and now, the actor said, “Cinema is new-gen only in terms of its technical aspect. Look at the action part and one can see it has become much easier now. There have cropped up so many digitally supporting factors. The emotions, the stories are just evolving like how it used to be. The basic cause of cinema in entertaining the masses has never changed. At times, I have felt the term 'new-generation' has been exploited unnecessarily drawing vague statements. At the end of the day, a big-screen experience is what audience need to get.”
The real 'power-star'
Ever since director Omar Lulu announced his project 'Power star' with a veteran actor in the lead, people have been eagerly waiting to know about the hero. And when Omar finally announced about joining hands with Babu Antony, movie buffs were surprised. “Probably, after 10-15 years, I will be doing a full-fledged action movie in the lead. When Omar told me about the script, I was interested and decided to go for it.”
A flying bird
The action hero surprised us when he told us that he has been frequently flitting in and out of cities. One day Babu Antony is in Chennai, the next day he will be in Mumbai and the other day you will find him in the US. We ask him about balancing his work and personal life and laughingly he reminds us, “I feel being busy is just a mental situation. I believe in going with the flow like a free flying migratory bird.”
He further adds, “My fans have been my biggest source of support. It is sheer happiness when I get to know that I have been an inspiration for many. The real star of a movie is definitely the director - his visions and his perceptions -- but I being the artiste have the responsibility to entertain them.”
Apart from his work life, Babu Antony is a doting father to two kids, 13 and 8 years old. He is also running a martial arts school in Houston. “I am also planning to launch a similar school in Kerala as well but since such things require personal attention, I have to manage it accordingly.”
Before winding up, we ask him about his next trip to Kerala and in a snap comes the reply, “Not anytime soon. As of now, I have wrapped up all the film commitments. The shooting for my next Jayam Ravi's 'Adanga Maru' is over. So I need to be here with my family and my school.”