Shibu and Usha’s eternal love story has been the topic of discussion ever since ‘Minnal Murali’ landed on the popular OTT platform. Actress Shelly Kishore deserves credit for playing the role of Usha with such originality. Shelly perfectly essayed the pain and helplessness of a woman who has become alone in life. Meanwhile, Shelly, who has charmed the mini screen audience with her unforgettable performances in some super hit TV serials is thrilled that her character is earning positive reviews.
Even though Shelly had essayed a main role in the national award-winning Tamil movie ‘Thanga Meenkal’, she remained unnoticed until she acted in ‘Minnal Murali’. Shelly admits that she is amazed by all the positive reviews. Meanwhile, she doesn’t mind giving all the credit to the fabulous team of ‘Minnal Murali’. In a special chat with Manorama Online, Shelly opens up about her role in ‘Minnal Murali’ and her future plans.
Shelly was active in the arts and cultural festivals when she was studying in school. A trained classical dancer, Shelly didn’t shy away from competitions and events. Besides, she had acted in plays and was interested in sports too. Shelly was working in Dubai when she had acted in a movie for the first time. “My friend had sent me a casting call that was published in the Malayala Manorama newspaper. I acted in that movie; but it wasn’t released. Then I acted in two TV serials. I won the television award for best actress for the serial ‘Thaniye’. ‘Island Express’ directed by Shankar Ramakrishnan in the anthology movie ‘Kerala Café’ was my first film that got released,” says Shelly. She has also acted in ‘Akam’ with Fahadh Faasil, ‘Chattakkari’, Tamil movie ‘Thanga Meenkal’ directed by Ram, B Ajithkumar’s ‘Eeda’, ‘Chirakin Maravil’ directed by Sudeep Joshi and Sidhartha Siva’s ‘ Sakhavu’.
She admits that she expected amazing offers after acting in ‘Thanga Meenkal’ that went on to win the national award. However, things didn’t turn out as she had hoped. “Its only after acting in ‘Minnal Murali’ that I am receiving such appreciation from Malayalam industry. I have a group of close friends. They called to appreciate me after watching the film. The credit of this success goes to the dedication and hard work of lots of people. It is the result of the patient waiting of Basil, Sophia Paul and the crew members. The release got delayed due to the Covid outbreak, the closure of theatres and other reasons including the demise of actor P Balachandran sir. My heart brims with happiness seeing the incredible success of the movie. I am getting unexpected responses and great comments,” notes the actress.
Studies during break
Shelly had last acted in the television serial ‘Sthreepadam’ that was aired on Mazhavil Manorama. She has no qualms in admitting that no offers came her way after that. Just like every other field, Covid has played spoil sport in the entertainment industry too. Shelly says she didn’t look for chances either. Meanwhile, Shelly completed her master’s degree in Communication and Journalism and began working in an ad agency based in Bengaluru as a copy writer. Now, she works as a content writer at an IT firm called ‘Moon Hive’ in Bengaluru. She has now decided to act only if she is offered good roles. Shelly is grateful to her employers for supporting her and helping her follow her dream while having a career.
Director Basil Joseph’s assistant Shiva had called Shelly when she was doing her Master’s degree at Sacred Heart College. He asked her to meet Basil as the latter wanted to narrate a story. Shelly hadn’t met Basil before that, even though she had loved his movies ‘Kunjiramayanam’ and ‘Godha’. “I didn’t have any hopes when they called me. I had hoped to get good offers after ‘Thanga Meenkal’, but didn’t get any. I met Basil without expecting anything. He gave an amazing narration of my character. We wouldn’t understand anything when some people narrate stories. But, I got a really good idea about my character after the narration. I really liked that role. Basil had called me after watching ‘Thanga Meenkal’. I am not someone who bothers too much about looks. I wear whatever I see when I open my wardrobe. I told them that I am not the same person that they had seen in the movie. I left saying that I would do the role if they think I could pull it off. I didn’t get any calls for almost a month after that meeting. However, after a month, Shiva called me and asked me to join the set,” recalls Shelly.
Shelly can’t hide her excitement when she speaks about Tamil actor Guru Somasundaram who shined as the villain in ‘Minnal Murali’. “Malayalam is not his mother tongue. Keralites have a misconception that Tamil actors over act a bit. However, Guru sir managed to change it with his amazing performance. He worked hard for this role. It is quite evident from the way he has portrayed the character. He had also dubbed for the character. Love and the pain of loss are things that could happen in anyone’s life,” says Shelly.
Shelly thinks that Shibu’s death was inevitable in the movie. That must be the reason why Shibu and Usha’s love is being celebrated so much. “He did a fabulous job. All I had to do was to react to whatever he does. He has shown complete justice to that role. He does each scene with so much dedication and passion. He wouldn’t mind any retakes until he is satisfied with his performance. Basil had given us the freedom to do the last scene as we liked. We filmed that scene in just one shot. Usha never realises that the person she loves is the one who had murdered her brother. Had she known, she would have despised him. Tovino’s character asks Shibu what he would do when Usha knows the truth. Shibu replies that Usha shouldn’t know anything and promises to leave the place as soon as he gets her. Every human being has secrets that he/she doesn’t share with anyone. Usha feels a unique attachment to Shibu. Everyone approaches Usha with nasty intentions. Shibu is the only person who loves and respects her,” says the actress.
Usha is drawn to Shibu’s kindness when he genuinely tries to help her when her daughter is unwell. Finally, she realises the truth that she has no one but Shibu. It is only his true love for Usha that remains strong in his otherwise unstable mind. “Everyone’s eyes fill with tears when Shibu’s character dies. Guru Somasundaram sir’s mesmerizing performance is what makes the character perfect. Cinematographer Sameer Thahir had amazingly captured what we had done. I am grateful to Sameer for everything,” notes Shelly.
Shelly calls actor Tovino a hit maker. She confesses that she was sure that ‘Minnal Murali’ would be a blockbuster only because Tovino stars in the titular role. She is thrilled that she could become part of Tovino’s movie. Shelly hardly realised that she was chosen to play a pivotal role in a movie that would be loved by millions of cinema lovers. She began filming her portions in 2019 December. Shelly completed her part by mid-March next year. “My friends and teachers had helped me a lot. A character wouldn’t unnecessarily make an entry in Basil’s films. The audience would notice us even if we had done a small role. There are lots of artists in this movie. ‘Minnal Murali’ is an iconic movie that marked a new beginning in the history of Malayalam cinema. I am really happy that I too could become part of it,” notes the actress.
Shelly, who had done a few super hit TV serials, still has the image of a hapless woman. However, she likes to play all kinds of characters. She is confident when she says that she wants to play the roles of an army officer and do stunts. “I am a person who expresses sadness, but wouldn’t cry over it. I react strongly in real life. All my characters are similar to my nature. But, I haven’t done a role that reflects me in the truest sense. My friends know that I have great sense of humour. I wish to do something different from what I have done so far. I am interested in experimenting with various characters,” Shelly explains.
Shelly calls Basil Joseph a good man whose humility is imitable. She says that Basil doesn’t have the airs of a hit maker. Shelly was impressed by the respect that Basil shows even to the junior artists. Moreover, she appreciates the fact that Basil gives freedom to his artists to bring out the best in them.
“After getting a basic idea of the character, all we needed to do was to show Basil what we planned to do. He would then explain whether we need to add some thing more or tone it down. Basil had given us the freedom to act as we wished. It gave us the confidence to bring out our best performance. Malayalam cinema can truly trust a talented filmmaker like him. This is a genre that is different from his earlier works. The theme was so unique that it could have been easily slipped out of hands. Unlike other superhero movies, ‘Minnal Murali’ has an incredibly emotional plot too. Basil was able to portray it perfectly without losing the soul of the theme. I cannot appreciate him enough for that. Basil was the ‘Captain’ who held our ship steady,” Shelly only has words of praise for Basil.
“If not for Sameer, the movie wouldn’t be this perfect. I used to show Sameer whatever Basil explained to me. It was he who gave me instructions. I really enjoyed his great support,” says Shelly.
Shelly hails from Thiruvananthapuram. She is currently working from home due to the Covid 19 situation. She lives with her mother and son Yuvan who is a class two student. Her mother and son had accompanied Shelly to the sets. “My son is my greatest admirer. I would be happy if he says that I did well. Child actor Vashisht who played a main role in this movie and Yuvan had become close friends,” notes the actress.
Shelly hopes that Yuvan enjoys ‘Minnal Murali’ as he is a fan of superheroes. He hasn’t seen the movie as he is away celebrating the Christmas holidays. “There are lots of elements in this movie that can entertain children. I think all children would enjoy this movie. I have started concentrating on my job again, after the initial excitement. I would do more movies if good roles are offered. I really enjoy acting. My employers have agreed to allow me leave to act in movies,” Shelly says with a smile.
Shelly is grateful to the entire team of ‘Minnal Murali’, especially producer Sophia Paul. “Sophia ma’am has suffered great hardships during the making of this movie. She is a courageous woman. I cannot appreciate her enough for that. I am thankful to Basil, Sameer, Tovino, Guru, Harisree Ashokan, the cast members and the entire crew of the movie. I could complete this movie only because I got the support of my friends and teachers in the department of communication at my college. I only have love and gratitude to all of them. Lots of friends and colleagues from the cinema industry are calling me after watching ‘Minnal Murali’. They say great comments about the film. I thank the audience who loved ‘Minnal Murali’ and my character in it,” Shelly signs off.