'Thuramukham', starring Nivin Pauly and Poornima Indrajith, which hit theatres last month, is a powerful ode to the struggle against the chaapa system in Mattanchery. However, much before K M Chidambaran's story was made into a film, the tale of the inhumane system was brought to life through the critically-acclaimed play of the same name, a few years ago, by his son Gopan Chidambaran.
Gighio catches up with P Sivaraj who acted in both the film and the play. While he played the lead actor Moidu in the play, he is seen as Moidu's (Nivin Pauly) friend in the film. Sivaraj has also appeared in films like 'Ennu Ninte Moideen', 'Oru Murai Vanthu Parthaya', among others.
How did you get cast in both the play and the film 'Thuramukham'?
There was an audition for the play taking place among Mattanchery residents. I took part in the audition, since I am from Mattanchery. Thankfully, I landed the lead role. It was one of the best things to happen, since I was going through a hard phase then and had even contemplated quitting on my dream of becoming a full-fledged actor. The play received a lot of critical acclaim and was hugely successful in Kochi. Though there were plans to stage the play in other parts of Kerala and India, it didn't materialise after Covid struck. After that, Rajeev Ravi, who produced the play along with URUArt Harbour, decided to direct a movie in the same name. When I went for the audition, Rajeev sir told me I would be playing a friend of the lead character. I was only too happy to work in a film directed by Rajeev Ravi.
It must have been two completely different experiences...
Yes, it was. Playing Moidu in the theatrical adaptation, was definitely an exciting experience. I had to prepare a lot to get into the skin of Moidu who is a goonda. There was a lot of training involved. Also, the play was an eye-opener for me since I was able to experience the struggles faced by Mattanchery residents in the past. The play also helped boost my confidence as an actor. Meanwhile, working in a Rajeev Ravi film was an entirely different experience. Everything seems so real. It was also fun working with the entire cast and crew of the film, including Nivin Pauly, Poornima, Indrajith and Darshana.
There were several scenes involving real-life labourers in the film, which was very interesting. Some of these scenes were not rehearsed and were very spontaneous. Sometimes, we would get hurt unintentionally as everyone would be living their character for the cameras.
Your experience working with Rajeev Ravi?
I have always wanted to work with a director like Rajeev Ravi. He is one director who has been able to capture the essence of Kochi beautifully. I loved how he portrayed Kochi in 'Annayum Rasoolum', especially the boat jetty and the rest of the elements that are so dear to Kochi residents. Rajeev Ravi is a great leader who is also a very simple and friendly man. He would simplify each instruction and be very direct about what he needs from an actor, which is brilliant.
Your chemistry with other actors.
The entire unit was like family. Nivin Pauly was very sweet. Also, working with Indrajith, who played a union leader in the film, was a great experience since he is great in giving good advice. Darshana Rajendran, who plays Moidu's sister in the film, is also very down to earth.
Your future projects?
I was seen in the Indrajith-starrer Aaha and also 'Naalam Mura' recently. I will be playing a full-fledged villain in an upcoming Malayalam movie. My training at N K Sajeev sir's Act Lab has helped me evolve as an actor.