On-screen comedians aren't too funny in their real lives they say, but Sujith Raj Kochukunju was offered a chance in the movie 'Kinavalli' after director Sugeeth got impressed by the jokes he cracked in real life. This 26-year-old actor did not struggle a bit to essay his role of Gopan as he resembled his real self.
For this marketing professional, trained in classical dance and passionate about movies, life is a comedy drama graced with best friends and laced with fine music.
'Kinavalli' is a bilingual horror-fantasy movie directed by Sugeeth, the director of popular movies like 'Ordinary' (2012,) 'Madhuranaranga' (2015,) 'Shikkari Shambhu' (2018) etc. Like the name suggests, the movie progresses like a dream, involving wild imaginations about love, friendship, horror, fantasy and emotions. 'Kinavalli' is a story of six friends, who meet up after a break. Sujith, who played the character of one of the six lead actors, opens up to Onmanorama about his development as an artist, aspirations and the exciting journey with the 'Kinavalli' crew.
How did you join the 'Kinavalli' team?
I know filmmaker Sugeeth for last three years. We have a common friend who is a cinematographer. He had initially offered me a comedy character in his movie 'Madhuranaranga.' Unfortunately, I couldn't perform it as I had to pay an urgent visit to my native place. I was depressed when the movie reached theatres. I called Sugeeth up and shared my disappointment of missing that opportunity. He consoled me and invited me for the script discussion of 'Kinavalli'. After a brief session, he asked me whether I could perform the role of Gopan. He said Gopan's character is very similar to my real character. Gopan works in Dubai and values his friends more than his life. He also sings well, cracks jokes and behaves like a joker in his close circle. That was more of a description of my own character than Gopan's. I hardly had to act in this movie. I just behaved as I always conduct with my own friends.
About your family and childhood...
I am the youngest of two sons. I did my graduation in aviation studies, but I work as a marketing personnel in Dubai. I belong to North Paravoor, Ernakulam. Once when I was in kindergarten, I returned home to tell my mom that I had given name for Bharatanatyam, which I didn't know anything about. I understood that it is some kind of dance and I loved dancing. Mother got anxious and rushed me to the nearest Bharatanatyam teacher to train me for a small performance. But the teacher liked my interest in dance. She continued to train me even after my kindergarten performance. I studied classical dance for almost six years. I had won the 'Kalaprathibha' title in state school youth festivals some six or seven times. I also excelled in Carnatic music, light music and Kuchipudi.
How did you develop your interest for cinema?
It was when I was in class 4 after I saw a senior playing mono-act on stage. I have always been a great fan of cinema and movie actors. I wondered why didn't I ever try mono-act. My father took me to Vinod Kedamangalam, an established actor, mimic and mono-act trainer. He trained me in mono-act and I won first prize in school for my debut performance. Thus, I discovered my skill in acting and I stared aspiring to be a movie actor. However, after class 10, I also started focusing on studies like all other teenagers. Having completed my studies and having secured a good job, I started pursuing my passion.
How was your experience on the sets of 'Kinavalli?'
'Kinavalli' is an out and out youth movie that had a rich crew of fresh and junior artistes. Very few people, like director Sugeeth and some location assistants, were the experienced hands. Sugeeth had a really hard time managing all of us. Whenever a combination scene involving all six of us came, Sugeeth took more than 12 shots to get everyone correct. Each one of us were thrilled on our movie debut. Probably, this shared feeling developed a strong bond between the six of us which we cherish even after the production schedules. All of us are in constant contact with one another. In a way, 'Kinavalli' became our own story.
What hooked you most in 'Kinavalli'?
The very first thing Sugeeth told me about 'Kinavalli' was that it is a fake story. 'Kinavalli' is an imaginative plot being discussed by a group of friends on their vacation. I found it very interesting. In an age when filmmakers market their movies claiming them to be 'real,' a fake story being marketed as such actually proves its ingenuity.
Your future projects and aspirations
I am looking forward for good movie projects. I haven't signed up for any project as of now. I am aspiring to build a good career in cinema. I sang the title track in 'Kinavalli'. So I would also be looking forward to shape a career in play-back singing.