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Tovino Thomas: “We wanted to make Minnal Murali in 5 languages”
Tovino Thomas Is The New Rising Star Of Malayalam Cinema. After The Release Of His Super-Hero Film Minnal Murali, Tovino’s Popularity Has Soared Across All Age & Language Barriers. He Can Barely Contain His Excitement As He Speaks to Subhash K Jha
Tovino, this year has been an amazing game-changer for you. How do look back on the year?
Thank you so much. I had three releases Kala, Kaanekkaane and Minnal Murali. In each one I got to play completely different characters. I am so grateful to have played Shahji in Kala, Alan in Kaanekkaane and now Jason in Minnal Murali all during the same year. They are three completely different people.
Who would have thought that a super-hero in lungi would create a national sensation?
Ha ha. When my director Basil Joseph and I set out to make a super-hero film we were very sure we were not competing with the Marvel universe. We wanted to create our own distinctly indigenous universe. I loved the script that Basil came up with.
It is rooted to Kerala but at the same time immensely universal?
That was the idea. We actually wanted to make Minnal Murali in 5 languages, Malayalam and also Tamil , Telugu, Hindi and English. Then Covid happened and our plans went for a toss. For a pan-India release we needed a strong Bollywood distributor. This was not available to us. So we decided to make the film in Malayalam only. That proved to be not so much of a compromise after all.
Why do you say that?
Because during the last two years after the pandemic, Malayalam cinema has all of a sudden become accessible to a pan-India audience. Earlier Malayalam films were appreciated mainly in Kerala.We did not have the reach of, say, Tamil or Telugu cinema. That changed during the pandemic when every kind of cinema was accessible on the OTT platform. Malayalam cinema benefited immensely from that platform.
By far, India’s best films are made in Kerala. Where do you see yourself among the great actors of Malayalam cinema from Mohanlal to Jayasurya to Fahadh Faasil?
I am proud to be part of that team. I don’t see these actors as competition at all. For me, they are part of the same team and I am . We are like the Indian cricket team. All of us are batting for the same purpose: to bring glory to Malayalam cinema.
Well said. Would you say Minnal Murali has taken your career to the next level?
It is definitely beyond anything my director Basil and I had imagined. When we set out to make an original super-hero film in Malayalam we were not even sure of what the final outcome would be. The fact that Basil and I were best friends since we worked together in Godha in 2017 certainly helped us to come up with an idea that was tenable .
Basil told me he wanted only you to play the super-hero as you were the perfect fit?
Some people believe that guys with muscles don’t have a sense of humour. We wanted to prove them wrong.
It is believed that goodlooking people cannot be good actors?
Mammootty Sir proves that is not true. We wanted Minnal Murali to be a super-hero film with lots of scope for acting. Which is not to say that we didn’t focus on the special effects. We have in fact worked hard on the effects. Visually the film belongs on the big screen.
Speaking of good acting your co-star Guru Somasundaram on Minnal Murali is outstanding?
I have been his fan ever since I saw him in Aaranya Kaandam. He is an amazing actor. And for me to share screen space with him and to have the audience comparing our performances is a dream come true. It is so important to have an inspiring co-star. I don’t think Minnal Murali could have happened without Guru Somasundaram.
Or without you. I believe the next film in the super-hero series is on the way?
(Laughs) Basil has to come up with a great idea and the producers have to greenlight the project. I am ready to get back into my super-hero suit any time.
What do we see you in next?
It’s a film called Naaradan directed by Ashiq Abu. I play a character I have never played before.