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Malayalam Superstar Tovino Thomas On The ‘Real Kerala Story’



You are now promoting your latest film 2018 as a pan-India film?

We actually wanted to do this before  the release. But we could not. So we are doing it now.It wasn’t just budget, it was time constraint.

Is 2018 an audio-visual  experience?

Definitely. That’s why  people  are flooding  into theatres. It is about the 2018 floods…well not so much about the  floods as the humane aspect of  the crisis. Storywise we have nothing new to offer. Everyone knows what the devastating floods did to Kerala in 2018.This movie is not a reminder of the disaster we went through. It’s a reminder of  how we survived this catastrophe.

The  visuals I believe, are astounding?

They look like actual floods.What we did was we built a huge water tank  on twelve  acres of land which we  filled and  refilled while shooting.We  kept on pumping fresh  water.

By  the  end  of the shooting you must have suffered severe skin disorders?

Not only me, all  the actors  and technicians did. All day we were immersed in water. This  went went on for  forty-five days. Of course I suffered. I am not Superman, at least not  in real(laughs). I caught a  cold. My immunity  was affected.Worse  of all I got a severe  ear infection . I had to  cancel shooting for two days  and consult  a  doctor. If  I could have borne the pain, I would have just gone on. But this  was beyond endurance. I couldn’t sleep. The doctor advised that  no water should go into my ears. But how was  I supposed  to  avoid water ? All the remaining scenes were underwater.

But it was all worth it, right?

It was  all worth  it. I cannot complain. I’m living a dream.2018 is a success.What people  like is the  emotions  and the sentiments  during those trying times. The producers are now dubbing it into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu,Kannada.

Sadly I haven’t seen 2018 as yet?

I feel awful about this. Sadly we don’t gave a strong  distribution system in Malayalam cinema. In the case of  2018 and my previous film Neelavelicham we have created  an  audio-visual spectacle that can only be  enjoyed on the big screen. For the average viewer the  film has to offer something far beyond what they see at  home. In today’s times they are  not even willing to watch a 40-second  video if it doesn’t hold them.They want  entertainment value  for every second.

 In that  case we need  to discuss what entertainment is?

It is  different things for different  people. For  me, entertainment  is being immersed in a movie from first to last. For some others, it may be colourful visuals, dance and song. I can watch a  film without a  background scores.At the end  of the day, I believe everybody has  the  right  to be entertained  in their own way. We as filmmakers  cannot tell the audience to like what we like.Everyone will like what they want.As an actor I can only focus on variety.I  was damn sure  that the quality level of Minnal Murali was very high. I did want it released in theatres. But who would have come during  the pandemic?Netflix played a  big hand in making  it popular.

People have become very picky about seeing movies in theatres?

And we can’t blame them.Cinema  is after all entertainment.  It isn’t  oxygen. They can live without movies. I try and imagine what the common man thinks. He knows this film or that  film will  come  on OTT. He will then wonder if he  should  watch  it in movie theatres. Going to a  movie theatre  is  an event.  What we have to do is make movies even more entertaining. Give them audio-visual  experience.

Interestingly you are calling your film 2018, the real Kerala story?

Yes, because we haven’t exaggerated anything.

So what  is  your next film about?

My next is ARM ,or ‘Ajay’s Second Heist’. No, it is  not a heist film. It is  a lot more than that. It takes place  in  three different time zones. I am playing three different roles.I’ve done double roles, not a triple.Kamal Haasan Sir has done multiple roles. When you watch the  film you will  know why I play three roles.

You are also planning a sequel to Minnal Murali?

That’s on the cards. But I can’t tell you when  we are going to start shooting . The  director Basil Joseph may shoot another  film before Minnal Murali.Basil is  very busy is an actor  as well. I am in touch with Basil.Today is  his daughter’s baptism. I couldn’t make it.  It is some 12-13 hours drive from where I am. He understands.

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