Femina George on transition to Bruce Lee Biji in 'Minnal Murali'

Femina George is a native of Kochi.

'Minnal Murali', which is considered the first superhero film in Malayalam, had a lot of surprises in store for the audience. One of them was Bruce Lee Biji. The feisty karate trainer who dumps her boyfriend when he tells her to forsake Karate after marriage. Not just that she literally kicks him out of her karate studio when he comes there to invite her to his wedding. Equally exciting was that scene after she gets tossed to the ground after a kick from 'Minnal Murali'—she somehow makes a stylish landing and smiles coolly.

Bruce Lee Biji is the only travel agent cum karate master in her village who has the capacity to solve a problem on her own despite having a superhero friend. Femina George, a native of Kochi, was widely applauded for her superb performance as Bruce Lee Biji in the film.

For Femina, who had been dreaming of cinema since her childhood, 'Minnal Murali' was her big entry ticket to Malayalam cinema. And what a debut it turned out to be! Femina George talks about her journey towards 'Minnal Murali', the highs and the lows to Manorama Online.

The first challenge was weight loss

I came to 'Minnal Murali' through an audition. I saw a post on Instagram. It was an audition call to the superhero movie looking for a girl who knew martial arts. I applied for the audition after going to karate class for two weeks. They called me for the audition which consisted of two rounds. In the second round of the audition, they told her to perform Sneha Babu's character Bincy. But they called again after the audition and wondered if I could lose weight in a month. I weighed about 62 kg at the time.

I had a double chin at that time, and they said if I could knock off some weight, they might consider me for the role. That was the motivation I needed, and I applied myself to lose weight. I followed a strict diet, regularly went to the gym, and was able to knock off six or seven kilos in a month.

Karate training

After losing weight, I called the 'Minnal Murali' called the team again. They were satisfied with what they saw and gave the green signal. That's when I was first told about the character of Bruce Lee Biji. In a grooming session, Basil explained in detail who Biji was and how she was involved in the story. I was also told that though Biji is a karate master, she doesn’t need to show her skills all the time in the film.

That also meant I wasn’t required to undergo any strenuous karate training. But having said that mention of that important scene involving 'Minnal Murali' compelled me to learn Karate. They said that’s one thing I needed to get right. When I hired a trainer, I told him to teach me to do the kick and stretches correctly. It was after that training that I became Bruce lee mentally and physically.

Waiting for Lockdown

I joined this film in 2019. At that time I had practised everything. But the actual shooting happened in 2021. In between Covid came. There was lockdown, resulting in the shutdown of the gym. Training had to be discontinued, resulting in weight gain. It began to affect my flexibility. It was not easy to practice at home without a trainer. However, the training continued at home. The fight sequence with Tovino was shot in April 2021.

My part was choreographed by Action Director Vlad Rimberg. We met in person a week before the shoot. He explained to me how Biji's fight with Jason would be designed. Mostly karate punches will do the major work along with a small kick. He even showed me the exact posture, but I didn’t now have that much speed. It was achieved through a week’s training. Thankfully, though we thought it would take many retakes, it was okayed in a few takes.

That scene was amazing

I have been told that the scene where Murali kicks me and my reactions following it was much appreciated by the audience. Especially in how I fall on the ground and pretend to be cool about it, keeping my hands on my head. Of course, director Basil Joseph deserves to be applauded for making that scene work. The fight was shot first. The laughter reaction from the fall was then added. In fact, not just this reaction shot, but Basil will also tell you what to do with every shot. And will also act and show. He had shown this reaction shot like this. Then he asked me to give my own interpretation of it. That’s the story behind this shot. I did not think so many people would like it. I think perhaps the humour worked for everyone. But I was so tense before this shot because I knew that if not done well, it would majorly misfire. But then nothing happened as I feared. That humour reached everyone.

The climax was enthralling

If you ask me, my favorite scene in the movie is the climax. The climax was what fascinated me the most when I first heard Bruce Lee's Biji’s character sketch. And besides, she had a lot of scope to perform in that climax. It was heartening to see the appreciation I got for that scene. Usually, in movies, the heroine is the shadow of the hero or someone who depends on him. But not in 'Minnal Murali'. She is capable of taking care of herself and even shows the courage to attend her ex-lovers’ wedding. When a problem comes, she doesn’t wait for 'Minnal Murali' to solve it, she is enough to figure that out. Biji thinks no problem is big enough for her to solve. It was so good to play such a character. I am grateful to the writers Arun and Justin for creating her. If they wrote her on paper, Basil also helped to present it in a good way.

Whatever has been said isn’t true

Many of the things that come up on social media about me are wrong. I did not take a degree from St. Teresa college, Ernakulam. I did my degree in Rajagiri. M.Com was done at St. Teresa's. I was born in Saudi Arabia and later shifted to Kochi. After completing BCom, I worked at Info park for a year. After that, I went to study PG and finished my M Com in 2021.

It was at the time of joining the course that they had auditioned for 'Minnal Murali' and the rest as they say is history. I have always loved cinema from a very young age. I am one of those people who used to read the newspaper only to scan cinema news. I remember imitating actors in front of the mirror. Though my passion for cinema never waned I was too scared to bring the topic at home. It was while studying for degree in Rajagiri that I got the courage to openly express my acting dreams at home. It was very difficult to convince my parents but eventually, they relented At home they call me Seena. I have a brother, Fabian George who actually looks like my older brother. In fact, I am scared of him than the other way round.

Femina George is a native of Kochi.

Ambition is to do good cinema

When I said I wanted to act in films, no one could immediately accept it at home. Especially my father! Because I come from a family which doesn’t see cinema as a secure career option. But now they have changed their minds. After the degree, I worked for a while. But today I am happiest in life. Imagine living your dream, that’s what I am going through. Of course, my dream is to pursue a career in cinema. I am willing to lose or gain weight for a character or even learn extra skills to better the role. Great cinema, great roles—this is my goal.

I am very clear about what I want. I am not really worried about what others say. Two years ago, when I said I was going to act in a movie, many people were sceptical - Movie? Are you sure? Isn’t it risky? Don’t you have any other work to do? And the same people are asking me about my next release. Not everyone will get such opportunities. Of course, the sceptics are still around. I am sure, cinema is what I want. This is my destination. 

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