Mithun Ramesh in powerful villainous role
Avatharam highlights Dubai-based talent Mithun Ramesh in a powerful villainous role, Deepa Gauri writes
Mithun Ramesh (above) and right, in a scene from Avatharam
Mithun Ramesh is a household name among the large expatriate Malayali community in Dubai. Clinching headlines with a Guinness World Record for the ‘longest marathon for a radio music show DJ-team,’ Mithun endears listeners of Hit FM with his remarkable candour and friendliness – both on the airwaves and at the many live events he has anchored.
A member of the founding team of the radio, he took a hiatus from movies to be in Dubai – a city that he says has moulded him and continues to define him. Yet the call of cinema remains strong, and continuing to balance cinema with radio, he has now defined his mark firmly with his latest film, Avatharam.
The Dileep-starrer, now playing at theatres in the UAE, has brought rave reviews for Mithun, who excels in a villainous act. That is a long way to go for the young man, who debuted in Fazil’s Life is Beautiful in a conspicuous supporting role, and has another 25 films to his credit.
Mithun says he is most remembered by film audiences for his role in Priyadarshan’s Vettam, where again, he starred with Dileep in a role that had strong negative shades. “It could be the overall look and body language,” says Mithun about why he is often picked for anti-hero roles.
But then, as radio listeners know and his friends vouch for, here is a youngster who is as amicable as one can get. His friendships in the film circle are legendary, with everyone from Biju Menon to writer Sachi ensuring that they have him for company on their visit to Dubai.
What characterises Mithun is his hearty laugh. There is a chuckle in his voice and he is outright unpretentious, calling a spade a spade, and never willing to let go of a chance to have some good fun.
But Karimban Joby, his role in director Joshiy’s Avatharam, is anything but these. Joby is one toughie, totally irreverent and always on the look-out for trouble. Unlike in Sevenes, another film directed by Joshiy, the rough goon act this time is unapologetic. It is to Mithun’s credit that despite Sevenes having a high-profile line-up of young actors – from Kunchacko Boban to Nivin Pauly to Asif Ali – his role as a street rowdy who reforms, continues to be the most memorable.
“Joshiy Sir would often tell me to lose weight but for Avatharam, he asked me to put on weight and be the hulky villain who puts a fear in anyone that crosses his path,” says Mithun. A revenge drama in which Dileep fights his opponents with brains than brawn, Mithun’s role was defined to give the terror quotient that is mandatory for action thrillers.
He also had another former Dubai-based talent Joy Mathew, also in a villainous role. “The camaraderie we shared – especially with Joyettan and Dileep – helped a lot. I did not prepare specifically to become Joby. It was about flaunting attitude from the word go,” says Mithun.
A product of Loyola School and Mar Ivanios College in Thiruvananthapuram, Mithun had always aspired to be in movies. The great grandson of freedom fighter Swadeshabimani Ramakrishna Pillai could ideally have opted for politics or a safer professional career. But his passion was movies, and so from school days he ventured into theatre, moved into television serials, and then took up movies.
“It was an organic growth but then the film industry crisis hit, and I wasn’t too sure how things were playing out,” says Mithun. “I couldn’t afford to sit back at home waiting for roles, so when the opportunity to be an RJ came by, I packed my bags for Dubai.”
The radio career was defining for Mithun in more ways than one. “One, it put me in direct contact with the thousands of Malayalis here. Two, it opened up meeting opportunities with practically every actor and director.”
But his priority always has been his profession as an RJ, which he says shaped his individuality and sharpened his personality. “There is a lot of encouragement from the station and the team, and I guess, the cinema stint of the RJs also adds value because no other radio station here would have such a team of RJs, who are also professional actors and directors.”
Over the years, Mithun has been part of some memorable and superhit movies including Runway, Run Baby Run, Nammal and Diamond Necklace. In each of these, Mithun also had roles that stay fresh in the memories of viewers – which could also be a statement on his talent and on-screen presence.
Mithun says there is greater acceptance now for actors from Dubai or abroad in the Malayalam film industry. “They don’t treat you as an outsider and now with films having larger budgets, they really look forward to talent from across the world.”
However, he feels making a film with expatriate Malayalis only in the cast and crew could still be an unviable commercial proposition. “But changes happen, as we can see across the industry.”
Right now he is relishing the impact that Karimban Joby has made on his film career. But, ever the happy-go-lucky youngster, he makes no loud ambitious plans of what next. That might also include a stint at directing.