When Tovino Thomas first visited Dubai in 2015, it was a very short trip as the Malayalam film sensation had to rush back home to Kerala the same day after inaugurating his friend’s newly-opened restaurant in the city.
Dubai is a place that Tovino considers home as many of his best friends and family members reside here. And, six years after his first trip, in 2021, Tovino became a recipient of the UAE’s Golden Visa.
Home is Tovino’s favourite place to be and upon hearing the news, the actor was delighted. “Dubai is like a second home to me, and I come here often,” he said in a conversation with City Times on Wednesday night at a Dubai villa. Tovino has been wanting to come back ever since his previous visit in 2019 during the Sharjah Book Fair. However, the pandemic struck and with all the travel restrictions, Thomas was unable to come to Dubai until special approvals allowed him to enter the country and collect the Golden Visa which was processed through Emirates First.
Tovino finds visiting Dubai very convenient now. “When I was here in 2015, all my different friend groups came to visit me at my friend's restaurant,” he said. “Now, they are all best friends and whenever I come here, I don’t have to meet everyone separately. It also saves time for introductions and we right away start the party.”
The 32-year-old actor has been making the most of his time in Dubai with helicopter rides, gold-flaked cappuccinos and other luxurious activities that the city offers. “I am trying to experience everything I can in Dubai and honestly, this city keeps updating my bucket list,” Tovino said. The actor is also looking forward to Dubai hosting the Expo 2020 in October this year. “I want to be a part of the Expo in any way I can,” he said adding that, if his shooting schedule permits, he will return to Dubai for the Expo.
On the professional front, Tovino last appeared in Kala, a Malayalam-language thriller that follows the story of two men turning violent after the death of their beloved dog. When asked if there is a particular genre Tovino prefers, he said, “I am someone who thinks an actor should try all the genres. That is how I explore my potential. If I keep on doing a similar genre, I am not exploring my full potential.”
“At the same time, I try to do a lot of different types of characters. I started off as a supporting actor and then I did villain, comic and lead roles. I, as an actor, don’t think I should restrict myself to the same genre or roles because if I keep doing that, I will get bored of myself. And, if that is the case, how can I expect the audience to be entertained.”
Tovino loves cinema and wants to try the maximum number of roles and genres, which is why in his upcoming film titled Minnal Murali, he will play a superhero. “I am happy Kala and Minnal Murali are releasing in the same year because my role in the two movies is totally opposite,” said Tovino, who promises fans that Minnal Murali, which is scheduled for an OTT release this year, will be very entertaining. “Even if we keep the superhero part aside, it will be a beautiful movie with a good storyline.”
Bollywood remakes? No thanks
It is no secret that there are Bollywood remakes of many Malayalam films, cue Drishyam (2015), Bodyguard (2011), and countless other hits. But, would Thomas star in a Malayalam remake of a Bollywood film? No. “Getting inspired from a movie is great, but I am not a huge fan of remakes. I want to do more original stories,” said Tovino, adding that he hates comparisons.
Malayalam film actors have been very busy during the pandemic despite the theatres being shut because of the ongoing trend of movies and shows releasing on OTT platforms. Tovino, meanwhile, is trying to look at the positive side of it, but, at the same time, he wants all the movies to release in theatres.
As an avid cinema enthusiast, Tovino is eagerly waiting for the pandemic to end and theatres to reopen as quickly as possible. “I love watching movies in theatres, and most of the movies are made for theatres,” said Tovino, adding that he has watched all his movies with the audience in theatres and wants to keep doing that. “That is how I get to know what the audience thinks of my performance and the movie. Watching a film at the cinema with many people has a different energy to it.”
Tovino, however, thinks OTT acts as a worldwide distributor of Malayalam films. “Now, with OTT platforms, Malayalam films have a wider reach. And, maybe in a couple of years, Malayalam films will get theatrical releases in many other parts of the world,” he said
It is clear that the award-winning actor, who has shied away from being typecast, loves to explore different genres and roles to maximise his potential. So, what attracts Tovino to a movie today? “The first thing is the script, and the second is the team; the director, the cinematographer, the editor, the art director, and everyone else on the team,” said Tovino, who is a team player. “Cinema is a collective art, it is not a one-man show. Everything should fall in place, and if that happens, we will get beautiful movies.”
Wrapping up our chat, Tovino wishes good luck to everyone, but bad luck to the coronavirus. “It used to be so good before the pandemic struck, and I wish the virus goes away really quickly,” said Tovino, adding that he barely goes out of his home in order to avoid wearing masks. “I was quite outgoing before the pandemic, but, now I avoid going out just because I have to wear a mask.” On that note, Tovino wants the pandemic to end soon so everything can go back to normal.
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