Meet Sanal Aman, the 35-year-old actor who played a teenager in Malik

Malik starring Fahadh Faasil in the lead role has been the talk of the town ever since its release on a prominent streaming platform. Those who have watched the movie have been enquiring about the actor who played the role of Freddy, the teenager assigned to murder Fahadh’s Alikka, in prison.

However, they were in for a surprise when the ‘teenager’ turned out to be 35-year old actor Sanal Aman who is thrilled that his character is drawing praises. In a candid interview with Onmanorama, Sanal opens up about how he managed to pull off the looks and the body language of a troubled teenager.

“It was the film’s director Mahesh Narayanan who offered me the role. In 2016, I had directed and acted in a play called ‘The Lover’. Actress Santhi Balachadran played the female lead in that play. Mahesh came to watch our play and he really liked it. He left only after appreciating me. Later, in 2019, he called me and asked me to meet him at Kochi. He then narrated the entire script of Malik to me. However, I was reluctant to take up the role as I didn’t feel confident enough pull off the role. Moreover, I was 34 years old at that time. But, he had full confidence in me. He said everything would be fine and asked me to shed some kilos. I agreed to play the character only because Mahesh had shown confidence in me. It was only later that I realized the value of such an opportunity. Now, I feel fortunate that he chose me for the role,” says Sanal.

The actor had signed the contract just before he enrolled at a yoga center in Thiruvananthapuram to physically prepare for the role. He intensely worked to transform into a teenager whose life is thrown into an abyss after he falls prey to the cunning scheme of others. With a strict diet and regular practicing of yoga, Sanal ‘walked’ back to his teenage self within just a month.

Mahesh would occasionally call the actor to remind the latter that he shouldn’t lose his childish innocence. The actor in Sanal would then try harder with passion and dedication to essay a 17-year old vulnerable boy as amazingly as possible.

Sanal has been associating with theater since his school days. After completing his graduation from the National School of Drama in Delhi, Sanal did his post graduation at Thrissur School of Drama for two years and also at the Central University of Hyderabad for a year. Meanwhile, he acted in countless plays and associated with many major theater productions. “My first movie was Asthamayam Vare directed by Sajin Babu. That film, however, didn’t get noticed as it wasn’t a mainstream movie. Then I did a Marati – Hindi bilingual movie called Eli Eli Lama Sabaktani. The story of this movie takes place in Mumbai. I also acted in Pixelia directed by Ratheesh Raveendran. Meanwhile, I acted in many short films too. As I was already staying in the film field, I could do the character in Malik, pretty effortlessly. Malik is my first mainstream movie. Now, I am enjoying the amazing responses that the movie and my character have been receiving,” notes Sanal.

The actor says he watched Malik at his home along with his parents, younger brother and grandmother. “My mother is someone who expresses emotions impulsively. So, in a way, it is a good thing that the movie didn’t release in theater. She was extremely emotional after watching the film. It was an amazing experience watching the movie with my family. The first scene that I shot for the movie was with Fahadh. I was a bit tensed as I hadn’t spoken much to him before. But, once the camera started rolling, he was completely transformed into the character. He helped me relax and essay the role easily. After the first scene was shot, we became close friends as if we had known each for a long time. It was indeed a dream come true to work with veteran actors like Indrans, Jalaja and Vinay,” says Sanal.

The actor is joyous that his friends, who know him since childhood, shower him with praises. “My friends said that they didn’t feel strange seeing me on screen as a teenager. I am sad that my first mainstream movie didn’t get a theatrical release. However, I am glad that lots of people could watch it as soon as it got released and are expressing their opinions too. I am experiencing both these emotions simultaneously. I have always been inspired by the big screen. But, I think that OTT platforms are the best option to enjoy cinema, in a safe environment, during the pandemic times,” Sanal signs off. 

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