Singer-Songwriter specialising in Latin-Indian fusion --- this is how Giju John's official website describes him. And now, John is a blithe spirit as he has been well received by critics and masses for his debut Malayalam film. For Malayalam movie buffs, this name might not sound familiar. But talk about Ahmed Sid, who scored well in the recently released Prithviraj-starrer 'Ranam' and one cannot miss recalling the police officer. “The film has impressed for its novel approach and it has been made with a lot of heart and soul by director Nirmal Sahadev,” he beamed.
Onmanorama caught up with the subtle actor Giju John who explained how he steered his career as a star.
An actor rises
An engineer by profession John is also a trained Carnatic musician and an experienced film producer in the US. He traced his evolution as an actor after his early entry in the entertainment industry as as singer-songwriter.
“Pursuing my goals in music, I released my first Latin-Indian fusion album in 2007, along with a music video. That was the first time I faced a camera. It was then that I realised how much I enjoyed acting and gained confidence. Soon after, an interest in acting developed. However, by chance, I got an opportunity to produce movies. I produced four Indie films in Bollywood and thus I could experience the whole creative process behind a production. Later on, I produced the Hindi version of the cult comedy classic series 'Akkarakazhachakal'. It just happened that the assistant director of the series was the assistant in 'Ranam' too,” John revealed.
John asked the assistant director whether he can audition for 'Ranam'. Nirmal, later sent him a few scenes to try and John sent him back the audition clips which Nirmal liked. “That's how I stepped into the Malayalam film industry," the Indian-American disclosed.
On US life
A native of Thiruvananthapuram, John is settled in California, US, with a recent move to Texas, and is familiar with the struggles of immigrants. “US is a land of immigrants and they come chasing a better life. After completing my B.Tech in Kerala, I went to US for my higher studies. Subsequently, I got a job at Intel and settled there. Now, based on what is depicted in many movies, people have this notion that life in US is pretty easy. But I know families who try hard to make ends meet. There are families where the parents work day and night to provide a better life for their kids and rarely see each other, given their busy work shifts. See, human emotions are universal irrespective of any race or culture. Making a life is not just about making money but of survival. The movie 'Ranam' should not be restricted as a gangster movie but should be one which people can emotionally connect with, although the premise is set in US," he said.
Technically rich film
'Ranam' is much appreciated for it's technical aspect as well. Talking about it, John said, “Kudos to Nirmal for he had thorough homework and clear vision about his debut movie. That is why it took a while to take this project on. When approaching a scene, he has his own style of giving freedom to artistes. The magic was possible with the improvisations suggested by them and inputs from him. We never felt that it was his first venture. He put together a very talented crew and his treatment of the film was such that the audience shouldn't be spoon-fed. Some things have to be left with the audience for them to have the complete cinematic experience. And I think that's the reason why there were no subtitles. The focus was to give a rich audio-visual experience."
John also mentioned that sharing a screen space with director Shyamaprasad excited him. “It was an amazing moment, a learning experience to say. On top of it, you have two very accomplished actors belonging to two different school of acting. Rahman from the old times and Prithviraj from the new. So all in all it was great opportunity to observe and learn from their individual approach to acting," he noted.
Ask about taking up more acting roles, John spilled a bean saying, “I have a few offers coming in. But right now, I can't officially talk about it.” He promised to keep in touch before zooming off.