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Roshan Matthew Speaks On The Politics Of Communalism In Kuruthi

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Roshan Mathew

Kuruthi takes us into the communal issue with a fearless ferocity.How and why did you decide to be a part of this project?

It was  too exciting project not to say yes to right away. I loved the stor, characters  and  how everything happens organically in the script. Prithvi Raj who also produces  the film gave me  a narration.  He  also told me about the actors he intended to cast. Obviously  I wanted to work with  Prithvi, But the  other actors also were  people whose work I admired and had never had the opportunity to work with before.. The  only thing that I  was uncertain about was whether I’d be  able to  do justice to my character Ibrahim.This was  one of the  most complex characters  I h played. Once I   was sure of that, I immediately said yes.

The issues raised here are political and cultural? How far do you identify with your character conflicted loyalties

It is  part  of  an actor’s job to understand the  thought process  of his  character, his state of mind etc. I tried my best to empathize with  my  character Ibrahim. And  that included the  political and cultural  context of  the  character.Ibrahim’s journey  is very  personal. His religious  faith  is a very personal pursuit  for him. His politics is  not as rigid as  that of the other characters in Kuruthi. He is very confused  about a  lot of issues. He is trying to figure  out all  the complexities  of existence only so that he could meet his daughter and wife in heaven. It wasn’t very difficult  for me to access Ibrahim’s emotions. Like  most of us, I am aware  of what is happening around us. One can’t  escape being  politically aware.My own understanding of   politics helped me  understand  Ibrahim , though his journey is way too personal  to be  generalized.

In  Kerala the Muslims and Christians are in fact a substantial population.Do you think the sense of isolation that your character feels is to an extent unjustified ?

I don’t think  Ibrahim’s sense of isolation is  a communal  one alone.  It’s also because  of his  personal losses. He lost his loved ones. He  has been relying heavily on his faith since then. That’s  relatable for me.His sense  of loneliness and his  unwillingness to go on living are  due to his losses. I don’t think he feels as communally cheated as  some  other characters  in the  film.I agree with you.In Kerala, the  Christian and Muslim  communities are  not as  much of a minority as  they are in some  other areas.  But that doesn’t take  away from the way they feel .

How did you get into Ibru’s character ? without judging him or by immersing completely into his feeling of persecution?

It starts  from  a place of empathy.I tried  to  understand him inside-out, his helplessness, his confusions. Whatever I understood of him finally reflected  in the way I portrayed him.

This has been a busy year for you shooting for Annum Panum and   Kuruthi and I think one other project.How difficult has it been to shoot in these pandemic conditions?

Anum Pennum  was shot before Covid in 2019. Since the pandemic I’ve shot for  Kuruthi, C U Soon   and the Hindi  film Darlings. And  a  couple  of  other Malayalam  films.It has definitely been stressful  to  shoot during Covid. Suddenly you have  to be mindful of so many things. In Kuruthi we had the advantage  of a script that demanded physical isolation. We  could be in our own  bubble , of course taking all precautions even while shooting away  from the crowds.So it  was not as inconvenient  as  the other  projects  I  shot during the pandemic. Also, Prithvi Raj Productions took care  of everything..None of  the extraneous problems were allowed to seep into our shooting.

Also Read:  Mumtaz: “Please Ask Mr Bhansali If I’m Doing Heeramandi ”

What was the experience of working with Prithviraj?

It was  lovely working with Prithvi Raj.I had  a taste of  the experience when I did Koode with  him in 2018. I wanted to go back and work  with him.It’s been a  very rewarding experience for me . There’s  a lot to watch in his  approach to work, he has a lot of respect  for his  co-actors.He  is  very punctual . Although such  a big star  with a 100 films behind him ,he still brings the energy to the set  that  I had in  my first film.The  joy he brings in the process of shooting is so palpable and infectious. He energizes his co-stars. I’ve never seen him tired. It’s almost as though he feeds  on  his work. He creates a wonderful work environment. That’s  one reason why  we wrapped  up  Kurithi so quickly.

Where do you see yourself in Malayalam’s star hierarchy ranging from Mohanlal to Dulquer?

I don’t think I  feature  anywhere in  that hierarchy.  Mohanlal , Mammootty et all  are in another  league altogether. Even some of  the younger stars are way ahead of me. I don’t compare myself with them. I am busy with my own journey creating my own little path.

What are your forthcoming projects? tell me about Darlings .I am Choked up with curiosity?

I am done shooting Darlings. It’s an exciting project for me. It’s different from everything I’ve done so far including Choked my last Hindi  project. Just the way it was planned and shot was so unique.These were my biggest takeaway  from  Darlings. It’s a completely different  experience from the way I shoot films here in Kerala. Then of course Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah and Vijay Varma are  extremely  talented actors. Just watching them  at work was  a lot of fun.

Finally as an emerging talent how do you see the future of Indian cinema? Is there hope of survival independent of the OTT?

Movies  theatres and theatre will survive. Theatre has always been struggling. But not dead. Movies will continue  to play in our movie theaters. It’s a valuable part  of our culture. Too valuable to die out.It’s just  a matter of time before we can go back to the theatres. Until then we have the OTT platform. It has dissolved so  many  boundaries. With good subtitles now,audiences watch  film in all languages. Yeah, I am glad we the OTT platform. But I am waiting for  the movie theatres to re-open.