R Parthiepan on his latest outing in Malayalam cinema and his directorial venture
Parthiepan is shuttling between Kochi and Chennai these days. He has a slew of Malayalam films lined up this year (Escape from Uganda, Bad Boys and Veerakkal Daivangal) not to forget his first directorial venture in the state –Wifi Alla Bharya. And if that is not enough, his next release, Jannal Oram, is also a remake of the super hit Malayalam movie Ordinary, that starred Kunchako Boban and Biju Menon. Even as he dons the role of the flirtatious bus conductor who spouts Palghat Malayalam (played by Biju Menon) in the film, the director-actor is excited about experimenting with a new slang for the first time in his career. “Unlike other actors, I have never experimented with a different slang other than my Coimbatore Tamil all these years. This time, I speak in the Tirunelveli slang and it was tough initially as I don’t rehearse as a rule. Though I had a tutor for help, I felt like a Hindi actor doing a Tamil film,” he laughs.
Simple and effective
He has made sporadic appearances in Malayalam in 2001(Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka) and 2011(Melvilasam). But this time, it looks like he is in for a longer innings. In the upcoming Escape from Uganda, said to be the first movie extensively shot in the country, the actor plays an Uganda-based Tamilian who charts the heroine’s (Rima Kallingal) escape to India. “There is a simplicity in Malayalam cinema and they narrate it beautifully. In fact, coincidentally, I am told that when the makers thought of a Tamil remake, I was the unanimous choice. I am planning to release Escape from Uganda in Tamil as well,” he tells me. After a brief hiatus, the actor is donning the director’s hat with Thirakkadhai, Vasanam, Iyarkkam. Not giving away much of the storyline, Parthiepan says it’s based on filmmaking, featuring fresh faces. From Pudhiya Paadhai, Housefull or Pachakuthirai, his films have always taken a stand on the flawed socio-political system in the country. “I don’t do it consciously but it is something that is part of me,” he says.
Two decades and 54 films later, the actor says he is all for the latest trend of low budget new-age films. “With these come new actors and directors who aren’t afraid to experiment. It’s welcoming as we have always relied on a set of technicians and huge budgets to bring out a film. We need to connect with the audience. Budget and success has no link whatsoever,” he feels. Contrary to popular belief he doesn’t think stars are necessary to make films. “Stardom is mostly useful for the producer and distributor. I think once you turn into a star, you can’t do all the films you would want to, as you have an image to live up to. Rajnikant cannot imagine doing a Mullum Malarum now. I have always followed the path less traveled. It has worked both ways,” says the actor.
— Neelima Menon