Happy to see audience calling me Sreekuttan: Sunny Wayn

Sunny Wayn (left). Sunny Wayn and Nikhila Vimal (right) in Perilloor Premier League. Photo: Instagram/@sunnywayn

A heartwarming comedy filled with eccentric characters of a picturesque Kerala village, Perilloor Premier League (PPL) is the latest Malayalam web series that is streaming on Disney Hotstar. Sunny Wayn's character Sreekuttan, an expat who is determined to find a wife before he returns to work, is the central figure in this blithe carnival of screwballs. The actor, who explored a string of solemn characters in his previous outings like Appan, Adithattu, and Vela, is attempting a light-hearted role through PPL. In a conversation with Onmanorama, Sunny Wayn tells us more about the series, his role, and upcoming projects.

What's the kind of feedback coming your way on PPL?
It's mostly positive and many viewers said they liked the caricaturish characters of the story, like Keman Soman, Psycho Balachandran, Thiruvaanam Babu, my character Sreekuttan, Nikhila Vimal's Malavika, and the rest. Some refer to me as Sreekuttan or even 'thumbikuttan' on social platforms based on his childhood antics (laughs). I think it's a positive sign. If the audience calls you by your character's name, I believe it's a sign your performance has struck a chord with them. Many are also lauding the beautiful locations of the series, which was shot completely in my native place Wayanad. I got to see many beautiful, interior regions of the district where I had never been, during the shoot. Overall, 'weird yet fun' is the common feedback we have been getting for the series. We were told some of the episodes were slow in parts but they still managed to retain interest. 'When is the next season?' is also a question coming our way.

Unlike your recently released films, PPL has a situational comedy thread running through it for all seven episodes. Was it challenging to perform on such a project?
Praveen Chandran, who helmed PPL, was an associate in my film Kurup. He told me about this project last year. When I heard the subject, I was attracted to it because of the comedy element in it. I also felt Sreekuttan aka Sreeraman has what it takes to interest the audience. The caricatures of other characters in the series, scripted by Kunjiramayanam scribe Deepu Pradeep, also appealed to me. Yes, there was the challenge of executing unintentional humour, through personality quirks and situations that develop. I am not an actor who can execute intentional humour either, but the director knew my positives and negatives well. As someone with a good sense of humour himself, he could support me well and that helped me give my best.

Did you have any references for Sreekuttan?
No. As all the characters were caricaturish in this fantasy village, we just worked on giving our individual touch to them, that's all. There wasn't too much planning on how to mould them any particular way, except for giving our lines a 'Valluvanadan' twist. The director used to speak in that dialect on the set, and that helped.

Malayalam is still in the initial stages of exploring the OTT space. What was your experience of fashioning content for the platform?
My film 'Appan' was an OTT release on SonyLiv and after its release, I could understand how fresh and quality content can win acceptance in OTT space easily. I could see that if the film is good, people will devote time to it and even give it mouth publicity. PPL was my next web project. Our audience is familiar with serials of 100-plus episodes on television and so, long duration content isn't too new for them. Also, if the film or series interests them, they won't mind watching it in one sitting, in the comfort of their home.

Close sources say you have been exploring diving, horseback riding, and the like, of late. Is it for any upcoming projects?
Last year I happened to travel quite a bit and also developed an interest in diving. I also took a certification in it, urged by a friend. By this year's end, I will be doing a film that has diving and the blue ocean as a main element. But I have to practice further for it.

What's your evolution like from Kurudi to Sreekuttan in the past 12 years, according to you?
I came empty-handed as a debutant in Second Show, in which I played Kurudi. There was hardly any effort from my side. My line of work is something many others have done, but, there is a conscious effort from my side to study my characters well and judge them from an audience point of view. Be it in terms of body language, presentation, or other aspects. I am also taking my time to pick roles that will suit me the best.

What are your upcoming projects?
I have two releases in February, Turkish Tharkkam featuring me and Lukman, and 'Written and Directed by God,' by newbie filmmaker Feby George. I am playing the character of a 'novel' God in the film (laughs).

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