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Minnal Murali Star Tovino Thomas On Life Before & After Minnal Murali



Tovino Thomas

Minnal Murali  Star  Tovino Thomas  Talks To  Subhash K Jha On Life Before  & After  Minnal Murali

How  has your  life  and career changed after Minnal Murali?
It hasn’t changed. But okay, I’m glad I’m getting a little attention , adulation. But  this growth was very gradual. I don’t see  any  sudden shift. There may be people who look from outside and   might feel that  things have  changed suddenly  for me. But it was step by step. I’ve been wanting this for so long. Five years back someone asked me a question : what is your life’s plans? Where do you see yourself  five  years from  now  ?

So what  was  your answer?

 I’m not someone who is trying to compete with my contemporary actors. I just want to do the movies which I love and I’m not bothered about the collection figures.

In fact, you had said something very nice in the first   interview that we did together, where I asked you what you thought of all the great actors whom you have to compete with in Kerala. And you said, you know, it’s like a cricket team. All of you guys are on the same side, which I thought was amazing?

 I am very happy that I’m living in the same generation where all these amazing actors and technicians are living and believe me I  admire  each one  of them. Believe me when I say I’m not bothered about the collection figures.If it  is  big, great. It doesn’t matter because it goes into the  producers’ account. The big high for me  is when people accept what I  do,when people appreciate what you are  trying to  achieve as  an actor. That’s it.

That’s so satisfying, right?

That’s so satisfying.That’s the only thing we actors  want,  more than money more than fame.  I hate it  when someone says you look good in that movie. As this is the  most superficial  level at which an actor is appreciated.Of course I like being praised  for my looks. But I’m not satisfied with that.

 Of course, why would you be? If you were  vain about your looks  you would be a ramp walker  or  a model?

Exactly.  What I want is an international exposure as an actor.I want  Malayalam films to be  watched  just as   Korean movies are being watched by millions all over the world. Audiences in Kerala   have been exposed to World Cinema long before it became fashionable for the rest of India.There’s a cultural  of   film festivals and stuff like that in Kerala from a very long  time. Even before  I became  an actor  I was a frequent visitor to  all these film festivals. I’ve watched 50 movies in 10 days  at festivals.What I saw in those film festivals was, the  audience  were not critics. Everyone  is  a  movie  critic today. They never cared about that. Many Keralites attending  film festivals have their  government jobs. They take ten days’ leave. They’ll come here, watch. 55 movies and go back.

 So, let me ask you a little crude question. How much  have you hiked your price after this movie Minnal Murali?

 I haven’t hiked  my price.I don’t have to ask for   a hike. They will come to me  with a  fee that  they think I  deserve.There is  no point in   fighting for my remuneration; they know my value and they’ll give me what  I deserve, although  comparatively it’s much lesser than other film  industries   in India. I have my comfortable life, but it is also about valuing yourself. I’ll never do something for free. I’ll know exactly what to do with  myself.I  have no value for money. As long as I have the  things that I need I am  okay. But still  I  spend in  buying clothes,but it’s all for brand building. Yeah, I mean if it’s something I should do so that my movies get noticed, I will do it.Otherwise I would rather invest my time in things that matter  to me.

Like what?

Like being with my  family,  getting enough rest. That’s something that I never get. And what I believe in  is,  just chilling. We should  simply sit still for at least two hours a day doing nothing. I want to do that.After some point, I will not get bored doing that. I  realized  that   during  the  making of Kala .That  was  really  strenuous. After like around 30 days of shooting I got  a  serious internal injury to a  vein  under my large intestine. It  was a very serious  blood clot.Initially I ignored   it .I am someone who works out. I’ll bear   most of the pain. And I thought it was gas or something.But  the second day, I couldn’t even stand properly.

What happened  next?
I called up my one of my friends, a doctor.  I had to be  admitted  into hospital  .I was in the ICU for two days. This  was  not my first time  in hospital.When I was 12, I had kidney stones. That was very painful, much worse. I  was in hospital  for three months. I’ve seen my parents cry. So, that’s a  whole different story.

So what happened after  you were injured  during Kala?

I was lying the down in the  ICU  alone and I was not allowed to keep my one leg over the other because it will strain my blood. I had this pain physically and was  given  painkillers.And all through,I was wide awake and I was so energetic, but I was forced to lie down I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have a book to read. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. And even when someone came  near me, they were in Covid-protection  suits. I asked all those nurses to give me some  tranquilizers.But  how much could  I sleep? I started l falling into thoughts. My only view was the ceiling. As soon as I got my phone, I clicked  a picture of that ceiling and I have made it my wallpaper.

Did you pray?

 I’m not a believer, but I prayed when I was a kid.  What I believe is when we pray, we are telling it  to ourselves …. I want this, I want that, I’m thankful for this and thank you for that. So we are talking to ourselves when we pray. And also, when do you know, which is your favorite colour? When was the first time you understood, which was your favourite colour? We don’t t get time to think about  our  likes and dislikes.We are running running in this rat-race forever.

How did  those  two days in  the ICU change you?

In the  ICU  I thought about a lot of things and I decided that it’s not necessary that someone else’s success  is my success Your journey is important to you.  I am not looking over my  shoulder. During that time   I thought  should I   use body doubles more frequently than I have done before . It’s  not that their life is not valuable .But they are trained to not get hurt. All right, I’ll be very careful . I was not allowed to fight for two months

Tell me  about your family?

We all live together. We live in the same house.And I want to do that forever. Even if  I move into a bigger place  I want two or three houses in the same compound so that we all can breathe the  same  air. Even Though I didn’t have any work, even though we had to face a lot of problems during the lockdown we enjoyed our time together.  I also own  a dog, five different kind of parrots .I have a lot of budgies.

Is this a home or paradise?

am living my dream.I want to live  like this forever.I want my children to find out why I’m doing this.  I  want them to understand the value of the things that matter to me.As my kids are very small and they don’t have regular school they come and stay with me during  outdoor shooting. At least after shoot, I can come and spend some time with them. You can feel like you’re at home with your family even when you are outdoors. So if I’m shooting for a month they will come and stay for 15 to 20 days.

How  are  you handling the  extra  attention  after Minnal Murali?

I’m not very comfortable with huge crowds.I was an introvert back in school. But at some point I realized, okay,I cannot go on  like this and  dream of being an actor.  I am  still an introvert.  But I cover it up well  when I am in crowds. I guess  I am a good actor(laughs).

What about the sudden  increase  in  fan attention?

I have  no problem in sacrificing my privacy. It’s fine.But my family must  not suffer. I’m concerned about their privacy .I’ve  told  my friends not to come to my home because I come  home once in a while, sometimes  one or two days in two or three months. So during   that time I don’t want anyone to come to my home .When I am out anybody can come without  permission and click a picture, right? So your home is your  fortress . When I first started acting in movies  I’ve seen stars posing for pictures and I was fascinated by all those things. If I am at a  restaurant with my family what I’ll do is I’ll get up from the table. I will go out click pictures  and come back. I cannot tell people not to click pictures with me.

 Are you going to be as careful in selecting your roles as you were earlier?

Of course, I’ll be very careful .Earlier if  I did  7-8 movies in a year 2 movies I was not happy about. I hope I’ll not do movies which will not make me happy.

Minnal Murali is a hard act to  follow up?

I think it is, but  I don’t want to think of it as the ultimate. I want to go beyond it. There is  the challenge  of doing something even more exciting .I don’t want to do just central  characters. I want to do small characters, small and interesting characters. And I don’t think  I lose the lead roles just because I’m doing supporting characters or something. You know, I’ve gotten over that mindset.I started off as a very smalltime  actor. And even after I became a lead actor, I did supporting roles.

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