EXCLUSIVE: Go by popular opinion to gauge the quality of a film, says Indrajith Sukumaran

South First in conversation with the versatile actor Indrajith Sukumaran, whose 'Marivillin Gopurangal' was released recently.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published May 15, 2024 | 9:30 AMUpdatedMay 15, 2024 | 12:11 PM

Indrajith Sukumaran

Indrajith Sukumaran, who has been in the Malayalam film industry for 22 years, has achieved success in both character roles and as the protagonist, in memorable films.

He is more of an actor than a star and has often taken on experimental roles, with no hesitation.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he has no haters on social media, given his widespread recognition, as one of the best actors in contemporary Malayalam cinema.

Marivillin Gopurangal (2024), Indrajith Sukumaran’s latest feel-good film, is playing in theatres.

In an interview with South First, he discusses cinema, film criticism, and social media, among other things.

‘Shruti was a joy to work with’

Shruti Ramachandran in Maarivillin Gopurangal

Shruti Ramachandran in ‘Marivillin Gopurangal’. (X)

Indrajith Sukumaran says he is always keen on being a part of lighthearted films — which is why he agreed to star in Marivillin Gopurangal — a feel-good entertainer.

Directed by Arun Bose, and written and co-directed by Pramod Mohan, Marivillin Gopurangal also has Shruti Ramachandran, Sarjano Khalid, Vincy Aloshious, Vasisht Umesh, and Roro, in pivotal roles.

Indrajith Sukumaran is all praise for Shruti Ramachandran, his co-star, who played his wife in the film.

“We were both free to improvise on sets because of the comfort factor, which was evident in the outcome. It was a joy working with her,” he says.

The actor is equally happy with all of the reviews because the majority of them praised the film’s obvious husband-wife chemistry.

After a pause, Indrajith adds, “In films like Marivillin Gopurangal, the scope for improvisation is more as they are character-driven. The process makes everything appear more natural than it otherwise would.”

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‘Fortunate to work with Vidyasagar’

Indrajith was thrilled to be collaborating on Marivillin Gopurangal, with music director Vidyasagar, who has over 20 years of experience composing timeless songs for Malayalam movies.

“I’m glad that I was able to lip sync to a song composed by the legendary Vidya (Sagar) ji. I consider it fortunate that I was able to team up with him because it’s been a while since he worked on a Malayalam film.”

During his childhood, Indrajith enjoyed listening to Vidyasagar songs and even contemplated acting in them. “That happened after 22 years of my career and we just made the best of it,” he adds.

As for the idea of lip-syncing specific portions of a song, Indrajith quips that it originated from the Marivillin Gopurangal crew. “For montage songs, lip-syncing is fun. It’s also a crucial style in Vidyasagar’s songs,” he says with a smile.

Indrajith says that his character in Marivillin Gopurangal, Shinto, lacks confidence. “Despite his abilities, he’s an insecure person; whereas Shruti’s character is progressive and opinionated.”

Marivillin Gopurangal review: Arun Bose delivers an entertainer that also gives the audience food for thought

A director’s actor

Indrajith's new release is Marivillin Gopurangal

Indrajith’s new release is ‘Marivillin Gopurangal’. (Supplied)

Indrajith believes that an actor’s role is to refine the character to meet the writer’s or director’s requirements.

Indrajith says although he’s grown as an actor, he’s constantly learning and owes it to his directors.

“Working with a filmmaker, who is clear about what he wants is a blessing. All I have to do is stick to what he asks for.”

He emphasises that talking with the director is the most important aspect of the acting process, and never thinks twice about sharing his viewpoints with them.

“I think the interactions help me understand my characters better.”

Indrajith goes on to add that he approaches acting mostly through communication and insists that acting is spontaneous.

He tells South First, “Even this morning I was discussing with the director, how my character should be,” citing a scene from the film, he is scheduled to work on in September.

A Spontaneous actor

Indrajith is more eager to produce work that his directors approve of, and tries to understand the different perspectives that each director has.

“I am critical about my performance. I learn, unlearn, and relearn. That’s the beauty of cinema. I evolve; with it, too.”

Indrajith firmly thinks his prep work shouldn’t reflect in the characters he plays. “I finish my homework before going to the sets. If I were to play a real-life person, I would research about the character, to give it more life.”

The fleeting ways of fame

In response to a question concerning children’s exposure to the internet, which is also discussed in Marivillin Gopurangal, Indrajith states that social media is taking over people’s lives in this day and age.

“These same kids become nervous and disappointed if they don’t receive the same attention as they grow older,” he says, referring to the child performers, who become popular on social media.

A piece of advice from Indrajith to youngsters, who aspire to be entertainers.

“Children have many possibilities to show off their talent, whether it be on social media or reality shows. If one does not succeed, it doesn’t mean the end of the world.”

In the entertainment world, you never know what will happen tomorrow, so you have to be ready for everything, Indrajith smiles.

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Production and filmmaking aspirations

Indrajith Sukumaran in Maarivillin Gopurangal

Indrajith Sukumaran in ‘Marivillin Gopurangal’. (Supplied)

When asked if he would like to produce or direct films, Indrajith replies that he has considered doing both.

“For something to happen, it must all come into place. I’m waiting for the right time. I can’t just dive in, because others are doing it.”

Indrajith remains tightlipped when asked about his role in Empuraan, the 2019 follow-up to Mohanlal’s Lucifer, which is helmed by his brother, actor-director Prithviraj Sukumaran,

Empuraan is a bigger film in terms of scale than Lucifer. There will be actors from that film in this one, as well. However, Empuraan will be entirely different from Lucifer.”

The Lucifer sequel will be jointly bankrolled by Aashirvad Cinemas and Lyca Productions, thereby making it the first Malayalam venture, for the banner that’s known for producing Tamil films.

In addition to Malayalam, Empuraan will also be released in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi, the makers revealed in a post on X, some time ago.

Foreign schedule of ‘Empuraan’ ends, Prithviraj shares pic from sets

‘Go by popular opinion to gauge the quality of a film’

When it comes to film criticism, Indrajith says that everyone has an opinion and people’s perceptions of a film are shaped by their sensibilities.

Further, before heading to the movies, he urges people to think about the opinions of a larger audience rather than relying only on select reviews.

“A lot of people review films online, these days. Some of them are genuine, but not all of them. If eight of ten reviews are positive and two are bad, then it is acceptable to watch a movie in theatres. If there are eight unfavourable reviews and just two positive ones, you don’t see the movie.”

The actor in Prithviraj always wanted to fly higher, says Indrajith Sukumaran

‘Proud of Prithviraj’

Prithviraj-Sukumarans-Aadujeevitham-The-Goat-Life-is-a-survival-drama

A still from ‘Aadujeevitham’.

Indrajith is super proud of his brother Prithviraj for his work in Aadujeevitham (2024), which was released in April to critical and commercial acclaim.

Prithviraj’s performance in the film is being praised as the best of his career, and it has already become one of the highest-grossing South Indian movies of the year.

A character like that from Aadujeevitham, according to Indrajith, only comes around once in a lifetime.

“It is based on a real-life incident. It’s not easy to play such a layered role. Prithviraj did a fantastic job, and he worked very hard. It was no surprise that he excelled in it. All credits to Blessy sir,” Indrajith signs off.

Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life) review: Blessy’s cinematic masterpiece is elevated by Prithviraj’s career-best performance