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Tovino Thomas On His Mediahound Performance In Naaradan

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As an  unscrupulous television journalist  in  Aashiq Abu’s  Naaradan  Tovino Thomas  gives yet another sterling performance  that is  high on  credibility and low on self-congratulation. In an exclusive  interview with Subhash  K Jha Tovino  talks of playing grey  and its  dynamics.

Naaradan sees you move diametrically away from Murali Minnale.How tough  was the transition?

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The transition  was  most definitely tough. But that is  the  whole  point  of  being an actor. I don’t want  to repeat  myself.I  don’t want  to  restrict my acting to good-guy roles. I want  to play bad guys also. I am very clear on  my priorities: I  want  to be  known  as a good actor, and not just a star. If  after  recognition as an actor   the stardom comes, then I am okay with  it.

How did you prepare  for  the part of  the television  journalist ?
As  an  actor I  try to push my limits with each role. For Naaradan   I took training from an acting coach for the  diction and for defining the character. The transition took time. I had to gradually make my way into  the heart and  mind  of   the journalist Chandraprakash . I got  a lot of inputs  from the screenplay writer Unni R , like how Chandraprakash  is lefthanded,  how he hides his grey side but it pops up unannounced. I think the  character  wouldn’t have shaped up well if I  we didn’t create a background for him.

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How closely did you study news anchors and journalistic ethics before playing  Chandraprakash?

I didn’t want  to imitate anybody  blindly. Instead  we designed  a completely fictional character.Naaradan is  not a bio-pic and we didn’t want to  imitate  anyone. But yes, I will admit we  took  inspiration  from many news  anchors. We kept watching national and international videos of  well-known news anchors. I took inspiration from many of them, but no one in  particular.

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In Naaradan you play an absolutely unscrupulous mediahound. How difficult is it for you to play morally ambiguous characters like Shahji in  Kala , Alan  in Kaaanekkane  and Chandraprakash in Naaradan?

That’s what makes it  a challenge.Playing the the good guy  can get boring for  me  as an actor and  for  the  audience too. I want to push my limits by exploring all  kinds of characters. I am game  to  play hero, villain, supporting actor, guest actor: you name  it. I am an actor who tries his best. And I am learning from every character. I am  actually not interested in establishing a  fan base. I would rather try new things  than play to the gallery. Good guy, bad guy …I am  happy with both.

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In Naaradan your character screams down panelists ,uses underhand tactics, fudges TRPs and thinks he is above the law.Reminds me one particular newsperson?

I really don’t want  to  answer  this question. We haven’t targeted   anyone in particular.I am also a writer. Unni R  who wrote Naaradam  is a media person  . He is also a  known  writer in  Kerala. My character Chandraprakash is  Unn R’s fictional  creation. I was  just happy to interpret the character  as I saw it best.

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Have you been a victim of fakenews? Do you think the media needs to  exercize some restrain?

Yes, there have  been incidents. But whether  it is fake  or real news it doesn’t last  for more than two days nowadays.That’s  it. But yes, we all know  the media  is  pillar of  our democracy. Definitely , they have a  responsibility towards  the  people to bring forward  the real news. They cannot pass off fiction as fact. In movies we have  that liberty. But the  news  must be  fully authentic . A majority of  people  from any part of the world, including me,  believe the  news to be true. That’s how our minds have been trained in a  democracy. Things have changed. Now there is tendency to run behind exclusivity and TRPs at the  cost of credibility.Again I am  not pointing a finger at any channel  in particular. They should fact-check every  news. Half-truths  and fake news  are just not acceptable. Nowadays  if I  watch  five channels I get  five different versions of the same news. I am then supposed to sift through the  five reports to separate fact from fiction.

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Were you happy with the the way Naaradan was received in movie theatres? It came with  a mammoth project like Bheeshma Parvam.Was that a problem?

As an actor I am not bothered with  the  boxoffice figures. I am concerned about the  number of people  who watch my films. If  not in theatres, it will be  watched on  OTT.How much money a film makes is a producer’s lookout.

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Tell about your next?

My next release is Vaashi where I am  paired with  the National award winning actress Keerthi Suresh.It’a  courtroom  drama.The one  after that Thallumala with Kalyani Priyadarshi   which is  an out and out colourful entertainer

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Shabana Azmi Breaks Her Wrist, Flies To  Budapest For Spielberg

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Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi’s commitment to  getting it right, no matter what it takes, is  by now beyond legendary. She  is known to go to extreme lengths for her  characters, the   quick-reference what-Shabana-can-do-for-a-role film being Shyam Benegal’s  Mandi where she had put on 30 kgs to look like  a  ‘Madame’ and  convey her message  in  a  brothel.

 Now , Shabana  flies to Budapest on the  night  of 8 February  in spite  of having broken her wrist.

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“What  to  do, I have to.I’ve to shoot another schedule  of my second season of  Halo(the series  produced by  Steven Spielberg) . There is no way I can postpone  it. I am very upset with myself. It  was such an  unnecessary accident. I was in Jindal . I took a jump and landed with a  fractured wrist, ”  says Shabana  angrily.

This is not  the first fracture that Shabana has suffered in recent times. Before  the wrist  that’s broken now, she  had broken the other wrist. And  prior to that she  had broken her shoulder.

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“I’m supposed to be  shooting till the 28th  of February. And  it’s all very tough physically rigorous  scenes. I don’t know  how I’m going to do it. I am  really annoyed  with  myself for  being careless.” Shabana sighed  before signing  off.

Knowing her the way I do,I can only say, nothing is impossible for Shabana Azmi.

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Shobita Dhulipala On Her Close Aquatic Connection To Her Character In The Night Manager

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Shobita Dhulipala

Sobhita Dhulipala has constantly tried to  make an  impression  with her intriguing performances and roles. In The Night Manager she  slips into the mysterious role of Kaveri.

Talking about her character, Sobhita Dhulipala says , “There’s a certain intrigue to Kaveri. On better days, you feel like you get a sense of who she is, but you could never be too sure of what she is.”

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   Being a  water  person  Sobhita  enjoyed her character’s aqueous antecedents, “There is a very visible parallel that’s drawn between Kaveri and water throughout the show.They both can be so gentle, so nourishing, but also very tumultuous and deep. Kaveri seems like that. She has this tenderness as well as a current within her.”

Sobhita comes from an aquatic  family and  feels  a deep affinity  to  water. “I have in the past been compared with water’s energy and I thought it was a tremendous compliment. So, to be able to give form to that feeling, that connection I feel with it..it’s great. My father is a sailor. And I spent many of my younger years at sea, also the home I grow up in was by the shore. I also love the name Kaveri and I always thought when I have my own child, I’d name him/her by a river! So, I think there’s, resonance, all of it really comes together for me.”

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The Romantics Adi Chopra’s Show All The Way

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The Romantics 

Netflix’s The Romantics profiling the legend Yash Chopra in four episodes , happened only because Netflix  gave complete creative control to  Yash Chopra’s son Aditya Chopra,  the scion of the Yash  Raj family.

A  source very close to  the project reveals, “If it wasn’t for Adi’s nod, the project  wouldn’t have happened. He not only greenlighted the project, he also personally supervised every aspect of the project. Smriti Mundhra is  on board as the director of The Romantics.  But it is  Adi who decided what  goes, and what  not.”

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Apparently  the  thirty-five interviewees speaking on  Yash Chopra in The  Romantics  were all  personally approved  by Adi Chopra who  also agreed to do his  first video interview ever for the docu-pic on his distinguished dad.

Adi Chopra’s one  and  only print interview was with  film critic/editor  Khalid Mohamed.

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The Romantics starts streaming on Netflix on Valentine’s Day  February 14.

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I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut: Shahid Kapoor

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Shahid  Kapoor

As Shahid  Kapoor Gets Ready To Make  His Digital Debut, He Takes Time  Off  For A Q & A With  Subhash K Jha

Farzi is your first foray into the OTT space. How would you describe the experience? Is it any different from doing the films for the big screen?

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 I’m very excited to be doing my OTT debut, as everybody calls it. I think I did it because I love  the directors Raj and DK and their work, and I actually really really liked the idea and the concept behind Farzi, the world of counterfeiting . I felt Sunny was a character that was as challenging as some of my most challenging characters as I’ve done yet. So I immediately wanted to do it.

And was it any different  shooting for an OTT series?

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Of course, it’s different because you’re watching the character over five to six hours as opposed to maybe two to two and a half hours. So it’s a deeper, wider opportunity to bring a character to life, that’s it.

 Farzi gave you the opportunity to work with the great Vijay Sethupathi and also the creators Raj and DK. So what was that experience like?

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With Raj and DK, I’ve loved Family Man very much and we’ve met over time and always wanted to collaborate. So I was really looking forward to it. In fact, I asked them if they have a show because they were calling me for a movie because they didn’t really expect… they didn’t think after Kabir Singh,  I’d like to do something like that , or whatever. But I actually asked them for it and probed  for it, and then they actually told me about this concept which we had discussed as a movie earlier.

So why  was the feature   film converted  into a digital series?

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It was just too elaborate to turn into a movie, to fit into a movie. It was only extremely sensible of them to turn it into a show because it deserves that much screen time.

What  was it like working with Vijay Sethupathi?

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With Vijay sir, it’s been a pleasure. And I want to see how people receive the show. He’s a fantastic actor who has always rediscovered himself and given people completely different experiences when he has come on the big screen. So it’s a privilege to have him on the show. And I had a blast working with him.

Shahid, it’s been twenty years since you started as a leading man. How do you look back on your career so far?

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I feel very fortunate to still be here. And I feel grateful that people find my work relevant. I feel there’s a lot more that I would like to do. And I think I am as charged as I was at the age of 21, giving my first shot, as I am today. And I think that’s the best part of the entire journey, that I still am as excited and as curious to get on that film floor and give my next shot. I think that’s what drives any artist.

Tell me about your forthcoming projects?

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I’ve got Farzi coming out on  10 Feb. And then there’s a movie with Ali Abbas  Zafar, which is an action thriller, a  slick action fun film, which will come out in the middle of this year. And then there’s a high-concept quirky love story that I’m doing with Maddock Films, which is directed by a new director. His name is Amit Joshi. It has me and Kriti Sanon in it, and Dharam ji and Dimple ma’am and various other very talented people.

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