Playing a broadcast Journalist: Interview with Tovino Thomas

Tovino Thomas
Tovino Thomas plays the lead in the Aashiq Abu movie 'Naradan'

Tovino Thomas joined the sets of ‘Naradan’ at Kumali after the first schedule of ‘Minnal Murali’ got over. Soon after the ‘Naradan’ shoot was over, he was required to rejoin the second schedule of ‘Minnal Murali.’ They were shooting the climax portions—that required the village tailor Jason to completely transition into superhero, Minnal Murali. Tovino wanted to knock off a few more pounds for the scenes.

When he slipped into the superhero costume, he knew that was needed. But then during the ‘Naradan’ shoot, he wasn’t even getting the time for his usual workouts. That’s when an idea struck him. Tovino realised that between the location and his hotel at Kumali, not only was the road hilly, but it was a solid 5km stretch. The crew members started getting used to seeing Tovino run that 5km stretch every day.

“I would climb the interim hilly terrain and walk through the road. I made this a daily affair, till the shooting was on. Finally, my efforts paid off, and by the time ‘Minnal Murali’ shooting started, I was leaner and fitter for the climax scenes,” says Tovino, reinstating the belief about the actor that he will go to any depths for his character. This is exactly what makes him stand apart from his contemporaries in Malayalam cinema. ‘Naradan’ comes on the heels of his much successful ‘Minnal Murali’ and the trailer already looks promising. Tovino plays a hotshot broadcast new journalist, Chandraprakash in this Aashiq Abu film written by Unni R. The actor gets talking about his new character and what to expect from ‘Naradan.’

Since the film is about broadcast news journalism, we tend to think that the film will mostly try to critique the media.

The film is set in the backdrop of broadcast journalism. I don’t think you just need to come to the conclusion that the film only critiques the profession, it talks about the good and the bad side of broadcast news journalism. It’s quite natural that when there are diverse characters in a story, there will be the good people and the bad people. When you make a film based on this profession, obviously there will be media critiquing. The film also reflects the kind of broadcast journalism people expect. The characters are all fictitious. Our aim is not to create controversies but to show the media in a new light.

What are the kind of preparations you did for the character?

Thorough research was needed. My character is left-handed. Also, there were a lot of dialogues. You are required to read the dialogues loudly while reading the news. I had a lot of discussions with Aashiq Abu and writer Unni R and also saw a lot of videos.

Not only was ‘Minnal Murali’ a success but was also feted by people all over the world.

I think the fact that superhero is a worldwide phenomenon might be the reason. Malayalees love and appreciate films from all over the world. So why can’t the rest of the world enjoy our films? That’s something I have always wondered about. Language is never a barrier when it comes to cinema since it’s a visual medium. Now I realised that the reason why Malayalam cinema never reached them was that no one tried to take it to them. ‘Minnal Murali’ is proof that even Malayalam cinema can have a global audience. We have the best of technicians and actors and I think in the coming years, our films will get more appreciation.

Has the success of ‘Minnal Murali’ put you under pressure?

Not every film is a ‘Minnal Murali.’ And I don’t want to do only films like ‘Minnal Murali.’ My priority will be based on the story and idea. Neither am I keen to do only hero roles. I want to do roles that satisfy me.

What about other language films?

So many stories are coming but I will take my own sweet time before coming to a decision. I am not really looking to make money by acting in other language films. Currently, I am in a happy state of mind, and I intend to continue this way. Nothing gives me more happiness at the realization that a lot of people watch my films. I have got calls from parents who tell me that their children have seen ‘Minnal Murali’ countless times. And I can’t even explain how happy that makes me.

Malayalees have taken a liking to the web series. Any plans to act in one?

Such talks are on. But we haven’t finalized anything for now. Of course, the sheer popularity of web series interests me greatly as an actor. If I get good roles, I will surely be interested to be part of a web series. 

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