Latest Mammootty starrer ‘Puzhu’ has opened a discourse about the scope of caste politics in the field of arts and cinema. The megastar essays the role of Kuttan, who has a touch of negative shade. Meanwhile, Parvathy played his sister. However, the audience has since been talking about the brilliant actor who fabulously essayed the role of Kuttappan, a Dalit theatre artist. Just like Kuttappan, who is always seen with a smile on his face and his head held high, actor Sasi Eranjikkal aka Appunni Sasi has cemented a place in Malayalam cinema with his incredible acting prowess. Sasi who stared at the financial crisis during the pandemic times as there weren’t any drama performances, delivered a career-defining performance in ‘Puzhu’. Appunni opens up about his background in theatre arts and recalls his journey in the movie industry, in a special interview with Manorama.
I was born in the village of Kandankulangara in Eranjikkal Kozhikode as the son of Kunjikandan and Janu. My family didn’t have any background in theatre arts. I have four sisters. I worked at construction sites in the day to find income and acted in plays in the evenings.
I realised acting was my path when I began learning drama under Jayaprakash Kuloor. He directed a play called ‘Appunnikalude Radio’ and made us perform it on stage. Only two characters would be on the stage for almost two hours in that play. The characters have to walk amid the audience and interact with them. All these were unique experiences for me. I still have a wedding invite in which it was printed ‘At 9 pm, enjoy the play Appunikalude Radio’. ‘Thiranjeduppu’, which featured only one character and ‘Chakkarapanthal’ in which I essayed four characters are some of my notable works.
Into the movies
It was director Ranjith sir who gave me impressive opportunities in the films. My role in ‘Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha’ was appreciated by everyone. I also acted in his ‘Indian Rupee’ and ‘Njan’. I have acted in around 86 films until now.
The screenwriter of ‘Puzhu’ Harshad had watched me in the play ‘Thiranjeduppu’. It was he who invited me into ‘Puzhu’. My co-star Parvathy’s incredible support had helped me essay the character quite effortlessly. On the first day of the filming, we had shot the scenes from the ‘play’ in the movie. Mammookka had come to the set that day. I was in the caravan doing makeup for the drama sequence in the film. He asked about the ‘actor’ who is in the scene and walked into the caravan to meet me. Can a newcomer wish for a bigger recognition than this?