“I have lamented over my figure” - Indrans

Baiju P. Sen

4 min read
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It is the story of an artiste’s life that was made by stitching together his dreams of 37 years. Moreover, it is the story of how a Kumarapuram-native tailor named Surendran grew into Indrans, one of the best actors of Malayalam film industry.

He ascended the steps to cinema as a common man, without being bewildered by the glory of stardom. He began his career as a costume designer and later appeared on the silver screen and became an actor.

The career started in comedy track, but later gradually switched from the insignificant comedy roles to serious characters. The industry recognized the talent in Indrans through his performance in Shayanam, Drishtantham, Kathavaseshan and Ramanam. He received special jury mention for his acting in ‘Apothikiri’ in 2014. Finally, he is honored with the State Award for the Best Actor in 2018 for the film ‘Aalorukkam’. Indrans speaks with all the joy of being honored at last.

“Dreams and wishes have a limit. I have yearned for being honored as the best actor. But I put it aside when I realized that I am nothing before the stars in the Malayalam cinema. This achievement was really unexpected. The movie ‘Aalorukkam’ deals with the mental strain of a middle-aged Ottanthullal artist. I had done some homework to get to know about Ottanthullal, as I was not familiar with it at all. Also some artistes from Kalamandalam helped me for that. Full credit of this honour goes to director Abhilash, who entrusted me with this character, and the entire film crew,” Indrans bows his head before the honour. This humbleness is his trademark. The artist in him is different from the stars, because his feet are on the ground.

“I am a common man. Though I try to act in cinema, I don’t try it in real life. I started my career in film industry as a costume designer and gradually turned into an actor. So, I know about all sides of the cinema. I was honored in the industry from the beginning as the costume designer of Padmarajan. Later, I could work with many talented directors. All these were great experiences. When I became an actor, I could act with Thilakan chettan, Jagathy chettan, Kalpana, Sukumari chechi and Lalitha chechi. My strength in this acting career is their support. It’s my greatest luck that I could act in movie in their era!”

When Indrans who has an unusually thin physique entered the film industry, he was placed among the comedians. The audience laughed riotously whenever they saw his figure on the screen. “I wished for serious roles which give a chance to perform. But the cinema world gave me comedy characters. I have lamented about my figure. While playing drama in childhood, I always wanted to play the role of policeman. But my friends gave me roles of servant that suits my body.

When I became an actor, I secretly went to a gym for body building. But they sent me back saying I could do nothing with this ‘body’. I was not sad even when I got nicknames like ‘umbrella crook’ and ‘soda bottle’. The smile that blooms on the faces of all from children to elders was a positive energy for me.” Indrans turned from the comedy roles to serious characters through the films of T. V. Chandran, Sukumaran Nair and Adoor.

“I didn’t change intentionally. When I went along the evolving cinema, it affected me too. I supported with all my energy, when some youngsters who brought some good characters. When I get a character, I compare it with some real life persons I know. Then I imitate them. That is my homework for a character. Some of them were very good ones too. Though I get honors and popularity, I feel happy while playing comedy characters. Because, the audience seem happy when they watch comedy roles and sad while watching serious roles. We cannot disown the comedy characters. The present generation recognize me watching my old comedy characters in television."

"When I look back, the past run like a reel in my mind. Childhood, sadness of a boy who had to stop studies in class 4 despite being studious, Onam, hunger, celebrations, father who encouraged me when I was wandering in festival grounds as a drama artist, uncle who trained me in tailoring, movies I watched from Petta Karthikeya and Pattom Saleem Talkies, stitching a blouse for actress Ambika for the first time, first cinema set of ‘Choothattam’ by K. Sukumaran Nair, Velayudhan chettan who gave me first lessons of costume designing, Lohiyettan (Lohithadas) who put me in front of the camera, Rajasenan, Rafi Mecartin, Sibi Sir, Balu Kiriyath, my wife who stood by me in both joy and grief…."

I’m thankful to everyone… This life could be the blessing of my mother. Cinema lavishly gives everything in double, if we trust it. Cinema does not need anyone. It is we who need cinema. We shouldn’t be arrogant. Humbleness is the best quality here, that’s what life taught me.”

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