Malayalam actor Nivin Pauly has geared up for the release of his upcoming film Kayamkulam Kochunni, a period drama also starring Mohanlal in a brief role. Said to be a story set in the 1800s, Kayamkulam Kochunni has been directed by Rosshan Andrews. The film is all set to release on October 11 and is quite in the buzz for quite a few reasons. Ahead of the film’s release, Nivin Pauly in an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla South, speaks up about working with Mohanlal, doing a biopic and much more. READ On:
Tell us about your role in Kayamkulam Kochunni
It was truly a dream come true to be offered the role of Kayamkulam Kochunni. To know that I was being trusted to portray the role of a man who is one of the biggest names in Indian folklore reassured me that all my decisions leading up to that point were right.He was a thief who, much like Robin Hood, was known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The film shows this on an epic scale, but more importantly, it shows a side of him that has not been told of; his sensitive and vulnerable side. With all of its intensity and grandeur, the film is a perfect family entertainer.
How challenging and different experience it was? How did you prep up for the role?
There was a lot of nervousness that I had to battle while preparing for this role. Thankfully, I had industry veterans like Rosshan Andrrews and Binod Pradhan backing me every step of the journey. Kochunni was known for his fearlessness and martial arts prowess, so I had to push my limits, both physically and mentally. There was a lot of discussions and Kalaripayattu training involved. What I understood is that one of the most overlooked aspects of mastering Kalaripayattu is discipline. It was a highly rewarding transformation. Despite his tough exterior, there is kindness in the way Kochunni went out of his way to protect and help the underprivileged. It wasn’t easy to strike such a rare balance. It’s up to the audience to decide whether we’ve done a good job at showing the epic story of our very own Robin Hood.
How was your experience working with Mohanlal? Any particular moment from the sets you want to share.
Like most of us, I too have grown up watching his films. He is undeniably a born actor. The finesse with which he portrays every role is astounding. What I most admire about him is that he makes it all look so effortless. Being able to perform alongside him was an honour. The flurry of happiness and child-like nervousness I felt when he came on set is ineffable.
You have conquered a couple of languages with some big hits. How do you manage to pick and choose the would-be hits?
So far, I have worked only in Malayalam and Tamil cinema. When it comes to selecting projects and characters, it’s simple; do what I haven’t done before and trust my instincts. When I’m approached for a potential project, I’d want to be excited about working with that filmmaker. You know it’s the right filmmaker when you see the clarity in their vision. It goes without saying that the script must also challenge me.
Kayamkulam Kochunni is releasing on your birthday, it is, of course, going to be special for you. How excited and nervous are you?
I’m primarily excited for audiences to witness this epic story unfold and leave them awestruck. Everyone who worked on Kayamkulam Kochunni put their heart and soul into it. The makers left no stone unturned. Rs. 45 crore is a huge budget for a Malayalam film. There is a lot of pressure on us, but we’re confident that the film will be critically and commercially accepted. The fact that it is releasing on my birthday is the cherry on the cake.
What are you working on next?
My next project, Moothon, which is a Hindi-Malayalam film directed by Geetu Mohandas, is going through its post-production phase as we speak.Geetu’s previous film Liar’s Dice, won two national awards and competed at Sundance Film Festival. Moreover, it was India’s official entry to the Oscars. It was an extremely challenging role for me. The script alone had so much to offer to actors. For this role, I went through a major body transformation and also had to be coached in order to speak Hindi fluently. How else would I have been able to do justice to Anurag Kashyap’s sleek dialogues?
Any particular role or genre you want to do next?
I’m open to all kinds of roles and genres. The only thing I wish is that I always do something I’ve never done before. Working with filmmakers who think outside the box and push me beyond my limits are of utmost importance to me.
Biopic are quite a trend, if ever you have to, who would you like to play?
It’s quite coincidental that you asked me this question. I’m going to working on a biopic soon, but I can’t say much about it right now. Be sure to watch out for the announcement.
The lines between the industries in the North and South have blurred. We are at an age where films of all languages and genres have become accessible to audiences in different formats and platforms. As a result of this, doors have been opened to actors like me who wish to work with filmmakers from all over the country who explores interesting subjects with fresh perspectives. Language is truly no longer a barrier for us film lovers.