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Nivin Pauly has the best of both worlds

Nivin Pauly has the best of both worlds
Nivin Pauly in a scene from the fun filled entertainer Love Action Drama

There could not have been a better time for Nivin Pauly, the actor and star, than now, as two of his films make headlines - one in the commercial circuit and the other globally for its arthouse and indie-spirited sensibility. In a freewheeling exclusive interview with S. Gautham, Nivin says it all - like never before

By S. Gautham

Published: Mon 9 Sep 2019, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 14 Sep 2019, 5:49 PM

Premam launched Nivin Pauly, the star. Jacobinte Swargarajyam made him the family hero. Kayamkulam Kochunni further defined his star clout. Richie took him to more Tamil audiences. And now the young sensational hero is straddling not just pan south Indian cinema audiences but also gaining international recognition for a power-packed performance in his new outing Moothon, which marks its world premiere tomorrow at the Toronto International Film Festival. 
But this weekend, there is more reason for Nivin Pauly fans - a base that cuts through ages - to celebrate, as his all-out commercial film Love Action Drama arrives to theatres in the UAE. Opening to capacity crowds, the Onam festival film is tailored for Nivin fans - one where they will see him as the boy-next-door Dineshan, but with his own vices and whims. 
As Nivin continues to push the envelope as an actor and star, he took out time for a candid interview with City Times. Excerpts: 
You have done two different genres of movies - Moothon and Love Action Drama. How would you compare your experience in these films?
Yes, both are different genres and it was a completely different experience shooting them. LAD is a completely fun-filled entertainer that has all the commercial ingredients in it while Moothon talks about hope and is a movie that will be liked by all. It was quite challenging doing the character. It was new and it tests you a lot as an actor. I thoroughly enjoyed working with a talented crew and must say they are the best you can find in the country today. 
While LAD looks closer to what the perception of Nivin Pauly is as an actor (a romantic hero), Moothon is totally different and challenging. What preparations did you make for Moothon - apart from the looks?
More than that, LAD is a movie that's more like a reunion of my friends. I am doing a movie with Aju (Varghese) after a long break, working with Dhyan (Sreenivasan) for the first time, Jomon T John is back cranking the camera and Shaan Rahman is doing the music while Vineeth (Sreenivasan) is there to support you as an actor. So, it's a movie from our own team. Moothon, as you said, challenged me as an actor. The beauty of (director) Geetu Mohandas is that she narrates so well. You will have a complete idea of the character by the time you stand in front of the camera. Rarely do you find filmmakers who do that and she gives you the room to perform the way you wish your character to be seen. It is one movie I am looking forward to watching on the big screen. The fact that the movie has been selected to the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and Mumbai Film Festival before its release shows what it has got. 
How was working with Geetu Mohandas, who, we believe, is also your family friend? Given her earlier film, Liar's Dice, was indie-spirited, were you prepared for an offbeat role (given you signed up for the project close on the heels of Premam and Jacobinte Swargarajyam?) And how much was the involvement of Anurag Kashyap, apart from writing the Hindi dialogues?
Working with Geetu is something every actor looks forward to. When she first briefed me about this film, I had a vague idea of how the character will look like but from the time she gave a detailed narration of my character, I was itching to perform. At that point, I was shooting Hey Jude and Kayamkulam Kochunni. When a character excites me, I won't get sleep till I finish shooting. Moothon is a movie that will surely excite the audience and every film lover. It is indeed an honour to work with some of the best film technicians in this country that also includes the icon - Anurag Kashyap. As an actor, you get to learn a lot from people like him and Geetu. For me shooting Moothon was going back to college and honing your skills. It helps you immensely. 
You are also working with Rajeev Ravi on Thuramukham. Can you share more about the project - how and why you chose the film, and how is it challenging/different from others?
Working with Rajeev Ravi is a blessing. He is one among the best filmmakers we have in the country today. His style of narration is completely different from others. We were supposed to work on another project but then Thuramukham happened. It's an ambitious project and one that will keep you on your toes. I don't want to divulge any details of it now. Every movie comes with a challenge and it's the experience that helps you overcome that challenge. Be it Kayamkulam Kochunni, Moothon or Thuramukham, it is all about how you see each movie and play your cards accordingly. For me all these movies have given utmost satisfaction. 
Moothon, along with Jallikattu, goes to Toronto, a festival that has feted films by auteurs such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan. How do you see this, especially, the role of young filmmakers in Kerala in taking cinema to new heights?
It's truly an honour to be featured in TIFF. I always wanted my films to reach a wider audience and to have an opening as big as TIFF for Moothon is quite special. Movies like Moothon and Jallikattu will surely take Malayalam industry to great heights. 
Would you describe this as a golden age for Malayalam cinema, where young talents are experimenting and bursting at their seams?
If you go back and see how Malayalam cinema has fared among the rest, there was always a golden period. I think its a continuation of that. The reality is that we have some amazing young filmmakers who are constantly experimenting in cinema and thanks to the writers who come up with fresh and strong content. 
Coming to the lighter side of things, how would you describe Love Action Drama as a festival release? How different is Dineshan, your character, from other similar boy-next-door roles you have done?
It's a complete package of a commercial cinema. It has romance, humour and of course some drama. Dineshan and team will surely make you happy. I don't want to spoil the fun. So, it's better if you go to the theatre and watch it.
You work with Nayantara, one of South Indian cinema's most popular stars in LAD. How would you describe her as a co-star? And on her character too, how feminine-centric is the film, given that Malayalam cinema now gives more space for fleshed out female characters than before?
Nayanthara is a gem of a person. She is very genuine and down to earth. When she was on the set, it was all fun. She makes you so comfortable. We had a great time working together. LAD will be one among her best for sure. Yes, you're right. Off-late we have seen filmmakers giving more space to female centric roles and that's indeed welcoming. We need more of strong female centric films that give a good message and that takes our films one step higher.
With this casting coup, do you hope to further cash in on the popularity you have in Tamil Nadu? More so because Premam was such a rage in the state?
Thanks to the success of Premam, it's good to see that they support all your films. Be it Tamil or Malayalam. Ever since LAD was announced, I have been getting calls from Tamilians asking about the release. 
You have just announced Padavettu, a film apparently set in the future. What appealed to you about the film, and what are your considerations now in choosing new projects?
Padavettu is a very different subject all together. It's something I have not attempted so far. It's produced by actor Sunny Wayne. There is a freshness in the story, and I am looking forward to it.

Nivin Pauly plays the gritty Akbar in Moothon that premiers at Toronto International Film Festival this Wednesday. The actor will also be present for the occasion
Nivin Pauly plays the gritty Akbar in Moothon that premiers at Toronto International Film Festival this Wednesday. The actor will also be present for the occasion

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