Crossing linguistic borders with ease: Roshan Mathew interview

Roshan Mathew
Roshan Mathew

Roshan Mathew was driving back home after shooting at Kumarakom for a new film co-starring Nimisha Sajayan. That’s when this conversation about his latest film, ‘Night Drive’ happened. Meanwhile, Roshan is now spreading his wings across languages and has just finished a Tamil film with Vikram and a Hindi project with Alia Bhatt.

Tell us more about your latest film, ‘Night Drive’?

I would like to think that ‘Night Drive’ is something I have never done before. As the name suggests, it’s about events that happen during a single night. It is an edge-of-the-seat thriller as well as an out-and-out entertainer. Since the film is directed by ‘Puli Murugan’ fame Vaishakan, rest assured it will be engaging. Anna Ben plays the heroine while Indrajith is also essaying a key role.

You are making your Tamil film debut with a Vikram film. That sounds huge!

Yes. ‘Cobra’ is my Tamil film debut headlining Vikram. This psychological action thriller is also my first big-budget film. They have a humongous crew. I was thrilled when I got the offer. In fact, this is also the film that had the longest shooting schedule. The shooting started two years ago. In between came Covid, lockdown, and the subsequent second wave and the third wave. It was a challenging film to shoot, and we had to undergo various obstacles. But I was floored by Vikram’s dedication and patience in spite of the film’s erratic and lengthy shooting schedule. He is the simplest person I have seen in my life. I consider myself blessed to have worked with him.

You began as a villain in ‘Puthiya Niyamam’ and then you switched to positive roles and then in between you did characters with negative shades. Won't that affect your image as a star?

I would rather be known as a good actor than a star. You can only be called a good actor if you experiment with all kinds of characters. At times I think it’s far more difficult to pull off a villain than a hero. A villain doesn’t have the advantage of getting the audience sympathy like the hero. The narrative will always throw more avenues for the hero to strike a chord with the audience, while the villain has the risk of ending up as one-dimensional. I want to play character roles, comedy, and villainy. I don’t want to limit myself to stereotypical roles as an actor.

You are back in Bollywood after Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Choked’ and this time with Alia Bhatt.

Each industry works differently. Their attitude towards cinema will be distinct. ‘Choked’ directed and produced by Anurag Kashyap was my Bollywood debut. My second film is ‘Darlings’ directed by Jasmeet K Reen, and I am thrilled to share screen space with Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, and Vijay Varma. Alia Bhatt comes to the sets fully prepared. I don’t know if she comes on the sets after a detailed character study or if her experience helps her to quickly slip into the character. I think we can learn a lot by observing every small and big actor on the sets. I take each film as an acting class and consciously try to update myself as an actor after every film. The love I receive from my audience is my biggest encouragement and reward.  

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