When Shane Nigam forayed into acting as a lead hero in Kismath, he grabbed the right attention. After movies like Kumabalangi Nights and Ishq, he turned out to be a youth sensation.
Now, young actor Shane Nigam's name is synonymous with controversies in Malayalam filmdom. His spat with Joby George and Sarath Menon, the producer and director of Veyil movie turned into a hustle with the producer's association.
Amid all the controversies, Shane opened his heart in an exclusive interview with Onmanorama. "If you have any love left for me, my movies and my characters, kindly listen to me," he urged. He also expressed his thoughts on the allegations of drug abuse on shooting location. Here are some excerpts of the conversation:
You are facing a huge crisis in Malayalam cinema at present. Do you think that you would thrive in this industry playing other roles than acting?
I don't know. I wish I don't get to face such crisis.
What other roles than acting would suit Shane Nigam in Malayalam cinema?
I aspire to become a cameraman. I love editing movies. I would like to compose music. I also wish direct movies in future. I would also produce a movie in case I get a chance. I would like to prove my skills in all areas related to cinema.
You are 23 years old. A 23 years from now, where would you find yourself?
I am nowhere, which means I am now here. I live in the present. In which ever country I would be after 23 years, whatever profession I practice, I will be living in the moment.
Shane was an active presence in Malayalam television and cinema since a very young age. As the son of Aby, who couldn't carve a place for himself in filmdom, what attracted you to cinema?
My entry to Malayalam cinema wasn't a planned one. I just happened to become an actor. I believe it is my destiny. The nature, perhaps the God himself connected me with cinema. I also would have had a strong calling in the back of my mind. When I say cinema, it is not just about acting. I love cinema as an art. It is more powerful than a painting and music because cinema is a combination of all the arts.
Aren't you dancing for the first time in cinema through Valiyaperunnal?
I had a brief dance performance in 'C/o Saira Banu.' It was after a long break that I shook a leg for this movie. My main problem was lack of stamina. It was after a rigorous training that lasted for five or six months that I became capable enough to perform the dance sequence.
When did you develop your passion for dance?
I had contested in 'Super Dancer,' a dance reality show on television. I had a passion for dance since childhood.
What comes to your mind when you think of Bakrid, the Valiyaperunnal?
We used to butcher the goat behind at our ancestral home during Bakrid. I used to witness that. It is the offering we make for the God Almighty on the festive day. That is my most striking memory about 'Valiyaperunnal' or Eid. Later, we would cook it and relish together as a family. Eid is a festival of sacrifice. I haven't yet attempted cooking. I do cook noodles, that's it.
Why is this movie named Valiyaperunnal?
The tail end portion of this movie happens on the day of 'Valiyaperunnal' (Eid.) There is also a scene in the movie where the protagonist, called Ashkar Salavuddeen aka Akkar says 'Come Eid, everything will be fine.' The core message of Eid, sacrificing for good, reflects all along the movie. The myth has it that Abraham gets ready to sacrifice his only son to God when an angel gives him a goat to sacrifice instead. You can identify this story in the movie as well.
How do you recall the golden time of your father – the time he literally shone in stage-shows and mimicry programmes?
The rehearsal sessions of most of his mimicry programmes took place in the premises of my father's ancestral house where I lived back then. My childhood is full of such memories. I grew up in those rehearsal camps. Those practice sessions instilled music, mimicry, acting and all other arts in me. At the same time, my sisters were not able to experience all these. By the time they were born, father had settled down by limiting the stage shows and acting. He became an artist who got shows occassionally. I still draw my inspiration from my father's life. My father never adviced me on anything. He let me explore my life and interests freely. That's the best thing he did to me.
Valiyaperunnal has a strong spiritual and religious pretext. You apologized in the name of God for a statement you made about the Malayalam film producers last day. Are you a religious person?
I believe in God. I don't think I am a very religious person. I think there is a wide difference between the two.
What is your long-term ambition when it comes to movies?
I don't have such definite goals in my life. My ultimate goal is a peaceful world. You can only set such a wide goal when you detach yourself from what you are. I am no one. I am not an actor, neither a director. I am a simple human being. I wish to co-exist with my fellow beings – be it the leaves, flowers, forests, oceans, sun, moon, stars, and the human beings as well. I wish to lead a peaceful life co-existing with everything around me.
This thought derived from my own life experiences. But whenever I tried to convey my thoughts, people branded me as a drug addict. So I am very careful in my words these days. I should make sure my thoughts are conveyed properly.
Actor Shine Tom Chacko recently raised a statement in your support. He said drug abuse is not something limited to film industry. It is there in almost all industries in the world. Why are people so concerned when film stars are under scanner, he asked. What is your take on that?
Speak about intoxicants, speak about all its forms. Life intoxicates me more than anything. Life is my drug. All other things that ease you come in its periphery. I don't need anything of that sort to keep going. I don't even need the tagname 'Shane Nigam' to survive. I will survive as long as I breathe. I will stick on to my truth till my last.
What hooked you the most in Valiyaperunnal movie?
My life can be divided as 'before 'Valiyaperunnal' and 'after 'Valiyaperunnal.' Valiyaperunnal offered me a milestone in my career, which no other movies could offer. The movie comes from the deepest of my emotions. It came at a time I have sacrificed myself for something good. One day, you will all understand what I indented to say all these time. You will realise that you were mishearing me. That day, you will understand why Valiyaperunnal stands so close to my heart.
I acted in a long list of movies while doing 'Valiyaperunnal.' Kumbalangi Nights, Ishq, Ullasam, Veyil and Qurbani were all shot after Valiyaperunnal. I am perhaps passing through the biggest crisis in my life. As Valiyaperunnal gets ready for release, I'll tell you very confidently that it stands for a noble cause. Valiyaperunnal is the university to which I owe several life lessons.
Every person I met on the sets of Valiyaperunnal, every experience I had there, shaped the person I am now. I sit here and talk to you like this because Valiyaperunnal carved a new person out of me.
I have flawed. I have flawed in life in several ways. I don't claim to be a perfect, generous person. I have committed several mistakes in my life. I do realize them. For me, Valiyaperunnal movie is my rebirth. I consider it my personal favorite and emotionally attached work.
How was your association with director Dimal Dennis?
We share a very complicated yet beautiful relationship. We have touched both the extremes of a friendship. There were times when we fought with each other. But one thing that stays constant is my respect for him. There is a reason for it: he practicalized his vision which he shared with me a couple of years ago. All the credits of Valiyaperunnal's success goes to him.
What is your idea of an ideal movie?
When people watch a movie, they are spending their valuable two and a half hours. The makers are responsible to make every second and every minute worthy of their time. There is nothing called an ideal movie. In my view, correspondence with changing time makes a movie ideal. 'Manichithrathazhu' was a superhit at when it was released. Is it possible to take a movie with the same technicality of Manichithrathazhu today? Not at all. It is a cult movie, not an ideal one. A movie becomes ideal when it accepts change.
'For the people' was such a movie. It stood apart from what we had seen in Malayalam cinema till then. Chappa Kurishu and Annayum Rasoolum are such movies. Be it Kumbalangi nights or Ishq, certain movies have marked the inevitable change of the time. They took Malayalam cinema to the next level. I think such movies are the ideal ones - those capable of taking the industry to next level.
In case you direct a movie in future, what kind of film would it be?
It would be a cery personal one. People always tend to hide their personal spaces. I don't have any secrets. My secrets are known at least to my mother. I'll tell you why -- we are not here to live forever. One day, we will all breathe our last. At least one person on this earth should be knowing you completely. I don't think there should be personal spaces to anyone in this world. Everyone should be able to express their emotions and feelings with others. We all should love each other and console each other during hard times. We should be able to lead with life as a unity. Now a days, even immediate neighbors don't speak with each other.
Is your mother your best friend?
Yes, of course. I don't hide anything from my mother. She knows everything about me. She knows what I do now and what i don't.
How did you enjoy the sets of Valiyaperunnal?
It was a big family. I didn't approach Valiyaperunnal production schedules professionally as an actor. We all felt at home. Everyone was so cheerful and lively. Definitely there were some problems on the sets but I consider them as friendly hustles that evolves out of love. Beyond all the trivial fights and problems, we all shared a personal bond wuth each other.
Surviving all the set backs, Valiyaperunnal is all set to release on December 20, 2019. At the moment, when I stand amid all the crises, I consider Valiyaperunnal as a career defining flick for the actor in me.
There are controversies and false propaganda regarding the release of Valiyaperunnal. Audience, if there is any love, any concern left for me, my movies and my characters in your heart, please do watch Valiyaperunnal in theaters and make it a success. This is my humble request to you.
You maintained a certain hairstyle for Valiyaperunnal for almost one and a half years. Doesn't that prove that you don't hesitate to maintain a look for a long time if you are loyal enough to a project?
I wish everyone understands that fact the way you understood it.
What makes Valiyaperunnal a colorful, attractive package?
Primary location of this movie is Fort Kochi. Other than that, the movie has been shot in the backdrop of Athirappilly waterfalls, Munnar and some other picturesque places. Valiyaperunnal would be a visual treat for the audience. The director and writer literally researched upon the places and possible locations to make it perfect. I'm also yet to watch the final out. Let's hope for the best.