Mollywood actor-director Dileesh Pothan on why his role in ‘Trance’ is a new experience
In ‘Trance’, Dileesh will be in the company of Fahadh Faasil with whom he has had reels of adventure in 'Maheshinte Prathikaram' and 'Thondimuthalam Driksakshiyum', that went on to win critical acclaim and box-office success as wellby Saraswathy Nagarajan
Dileesh Pothan insists that his work must speak for him. And that has been an eloquent testimony to his ability as an actor and director. Soon, it will be the turn of Dileesh, the actor, to be seen in Anwar Rashid’s Trance. Dileesh, as Avaraachan, will be in the company of Fahadh Faasil with whom he has had reels of adventure in Maheshinte Prathikaram and Thondimuthalam Driksakshiyum, both of which were helmed by Dileesh and went on to win critical acclaim and overwhelming box-office success as well.
“I have great expectations about Trance. It has been in the making for two years and we shot in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, places in Kerala and in Mumbai. Till Avaraachan came along, I had enacted characters that were done with in one schedule. Then I moved to the next one. In the case of such schedules, it was easier to stay in character. It is for the first time that I had spent such a long time on one character,” says Dileesh, speaking on phone from Ernakulam.
He admits that maintaining the character graph when there were long intervals between the shooting proved to be a challenge that he actually enjoyed as it was a new experience. So Dileesh took preparations to get into the skin of the character after a break, and he would watch the previous scenes to get a feel of the story. “It was also helpful because I could see my character and make corrections if necessary. It is my first film with Anwar, with whom I have always wanted to work,” he adds.
In the coming months, Dileesh will be seen in some much-anticipated films such as Malik, Pada, Kallan and Thangam. Dubbing has been completed for Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik and Kamal’s Pada. The dubbing of Kallan remains. The shoot of Thangam, scripted by Syam Pushkaran, begins later this year.
Malik, says Dileesh, was another novel experience for him as he was enacting different ages of the same character as the story covered two decades. “That was my takeaway from Malik as my role ages on screen from 35 to 65,” he says.
Admitting that he is an actor who was co-opted to play certain roles at the last minute, Dileesh says it was his passion for cinema that brought him to tinsel town, and so long as he was learning and working in cinema, it did not matter whether he was assistant director, actor or associate director. “Sometimes, during a shoot, an actor might fail to turn up or there might be a need for an actor for a scene.... and then if the director asks me, I step in front of the camera,” he says modestly.
He got noticed in those brief roles in films beginning with Aashiq Abu’s Salt N’ Pepper and subsequent films such as Da Thadiya and 5 Sundarikkal. Eventually, he moved on to more significant characters. Maintaining that he was a director’s actor, Dileesh says with a laugh that being a director himself has not bestowed on him any special benefits while facing the camera.
“On the contrary, I feel that it has chipped away some of my confidence as an actor. I find it difficult to direct myself in my films and so I avoid taking on any major roles in my films as I feel my judgement might be flawed,” explains Dileesh.
He views acting stints with different directors as a learning experience and says it is an opportunity to see at close quarters how a director prepares an actor to breathe life into a character. “For instance, while working with Anwar, I made the most of the opportunity to observe his style of work. I am curious to learn how a director deciphers a scene, how he uses music....It was the same with Sathyan Anthikad too, another director I always wanted to work with. Each director has his specific style,” elaborates Dileesh.
As a director, he depends on his intuition and tries to imagine a particular character in his mind and casts a person that closely resembles that character. “Once, that is done, I have no idea what I do, perhaps, someone has to observe me...,” he laughs. Instead of aping a director, Dileesh explains that he observes, assimilates and then falls back on his strengths when he is working.
When it comes to selecting a subject for a film, he says it is topics that make us think that gives rise to a cinema. So, when there is a subject that piques his interest, he discusses it with his friends and, as a result, there might be stories or scenes that get developed. But, if, after a point, he loses interest, the idea is discarded.
Since his previous two films did so well, is he weighed down by expectations? “I always wanted to be a director. And I make films that I like. Making it big on the national scene or sweeping the box office are not the most important factors to make a film. I do not get excited about such things beyond a point. So a new film does not make me nervous. I am in no hurry to rush into one. But I am working towards it,” he explains.
He continues: “I understand that a box-office win is important from the point of view of business. It is important that an art form made by you is appreciated by people, that is every artist’s wish. But, all forms of art and films are not the same. I am not a magician to make films that will be appreciated or enjoyed by all. But each cinema, each angle, each perspective will be of a certain kind. So success does not scare me or make me nervous. It only gives me more confidence,” Dileesh says.