Tovino Thomas on his new film 'Forensic'

Tovino Thomas, Forensic, Malayalam, Dubai

The Malayalam actor goes on a murder investigation in this first of its kind film that tells the story from a forensic officer's point of view

By Neha Mahamood

Published: Tue 3 Mar 2020, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Sat 7 Mar 2020, 5:04 PM

"Iwant to explore all genres and do all kinds of movies," shares Tovino Thomas when he spoke to us recently about what he wants to be known for. The actor most notable in movies like Theevandi, Godha, Mayanadi, Uyare, Virus, and Luca, exploded into the South film industry with ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi in 2013 and has been busy with putting out multiple blockbusters since.
His next thriller, Forensic, directed by Akhil Paul and Anas Khan, is a first-of-its-kind in Malayalam cinema. The movie looks at vicious crimes committed against children and a forensic officer uncovering evidence that might lead to the killer's identity.
We haven't until now seen any film from the South that follows an investigation from a forensic officer's point of view. Tovino stars as Samuel John Kaattookaran, a medico-legal advisor who utilises his forensic skills to create a breakthrough in the case.
Tovino has proved his mettle in the Malayalam film industry, having worked with megastar Mohanlal in Koothara (2014) and Lucifer (2019) and has now become a household name in his own right.
We spoke to the star ahead of the movie's release this weekend and here's a snippet of our telephonic conversation.   

Can you tell us a bit about Forensic and the character you play in the movie?
As the tagline says, it's about 'The science of a crime'. My character, Samuel John Kattookaran, is a forensic officer and medico-legal advisor who joins a team investigating a series of killings in Trivandrum, which is headed by Mamta Mohandas's character. Forensics is a vast area that has not been explored in Malayalam movies. I think this is the first time it's been done and it will be an eye-opener for many.

Nothing like this has been done before in the South. So do you think Forensic will pave the way for this type of storytelling?
I hope so! I don't think any movie has been told from the perspective of a forensic officer. Most of the time what happens is these characters appear to take fingerprints and check the DNA, and then their part is over. But in this movie, we visited the Forensic Science Lab in Trivandrum and also the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Research. Director duo Akhil Paul and Anas Khan then made corrections to the script. We wanted the facts to be true. But we have shot the movie in a cinematic way. It's not a super realistic movie. It entertains the audience by telling a very dark story. To make it more enjoyable we have used gimmicks and have tried our best to stay closer to facts and logic.

You're known to play lovable and relatable characters. What attracted you to take on such an intense role?
I've been friends with Anas and Akhil since we worked on 7th Day and we've kept in touch. When Akhil narrated the story to me, I loved the script and I knew I wanted to work on it. A month before we started the shoot, we went through the script again and they narrated everything to me with all the details like shot divisions and camera angles. That's how prepared they were. It's the best thing you can do for an actor and that's why I was very confident about doing this movie. They had done their homework.
I always want to communicate with people through my movies. Even in this movie I haven't tried to make up a character, we decided to give him some mannerisms but not make him look heroic.
We wanted the movie to be entertaining, we didn't want it to look like a forensic science class. We wanted it to be intense but also wanted it to be indirect. Compared to some other movies, the violence show in the film is very less.

Malayalam cinema has come a long way from solely being entertainment driven to focusing on movies with a message. What are your thoughts on the industry as it is right now?
Not only Malayalam cinema, I think all over the world the movie industry is on a path of revival. More content driven movies are getting accepted. Independent and content driven movies have found their own space. Nowadays, we can see masala movie audiences demanding content driven movies. Especially in the  Malayalam industry, I believe content is king.

Do you have a dream role?
I want to explore all genres and do all kinds of movies. I don't want to restrict myself. I don't have a dream role. Movies just happen and we are just the director's tool. I don't want to follow anybody's path. I always wanted to create my own path. Even when I'm doing lead roles, I do villainous roles and character roles because I want to explore more and find out what all I can do.

What do you look for before signing a movie?
The director, the script, the team and the plot. All these factors together make it interesting. I don't have any fixed criteria, but I do believe movies should be entertaining. It's an art and the purpose of art is to entertain. So, the artistic value is very important. When I listen to a script, I will listen to it as an audience and then I read it as an actor. Most of the time, I follow my intuition and I think it's worked so far.

Can you tell us anything about any of your upcoming projects?
My next movie Kilometers and Kilometers is releasing on March 12 and I'm one of the producers as well. It's different from Forensic. It's a light-hearted humour-driven Tamil movie. It looks at the economic and cultural differences of the people in USA and India. It's a satire in many portions.
And then there's Minnal Murali which is coming out in Onam. It's a superhero movie and the filming is currently on. It's a desi superhero movie where a guy gets hit by lightning and gets superpowers, but he doesn't wear a silicon suit. We have kept it very subtle.

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