Aneesh Gopal Interview: Ravi K Chandran gave my character ample space in Bhramam
The actor opens up about his role in Bhramam, acknowledging viewers' comparisons to Andhadhun, his working process, and dealing with pandemic-induced worries
Following the release of Bhramam, most of the discussions had been about the principal characters. But some of the film's notable moments belonged to its secondary characters, irrespective of their screentime. One of them is Lopus (Aneesh Gopal), an autorickshaw driver caught in the twisted cat-and-mouse game involving Prithviraj's Ray Mathews, Unni Mukundan's Dinesh, and Mamta Mohandas' Simi.
An interesting aspect of Bhramam is Aneesh getting to do more in it than his counterpart in Andhadhun, of which the film is a remake. "I felt that Bhramam gave my character an ample amount of space, and Ravi K Chandran (director-cinematographer) did certain things like including more close-up shots of me so as to make my character most visible," says the actor, who made his debut in Dulquer Salmaan's Second Show and rose to fame after his breakout performance in the Tovino Thomas-starrer Theevandi.
Among the several amusing sequences in Bhramam are a tense money exchange scene and subsequent chase at a construction site which plays out like a nod to the James Bond film Casino Royale. Aneesh was initially reluctant to pull off the stunt that required him to jump from the third floor. "You see, even jumping from the first floor is a problem for me," he laughs. Aneesh had some minor injuries, and the sequence required a few takes to complete. "I was nervous and expressed my concern to the stunt master, but he insisted that I do the stunt myself. No dupes. It was my first time with a rope. But if you had asked Unni chettan or Tovino Thomas to do it, they would gladly oblige, even if it's on the 10th floor. They love that kind of stuff."
Bhramam has met with a mixed response from Malayali audiences, especially those familiar with Andhadhun. Aneesh feels audiences' urge to compare the original with its remake is only natural. "Look, we did that when Maheshinte Prathikaram got remade. Such comparisons are inevitable. I guess Andhadhun got remade here because Malayali audiences are now familiar with all kinds of cinema from all languages. There was also the expectation that it might work for people who have not seen the original."
Aneesh also made a notable comical appearance in last year's Nizhal, in which his character, a police officer, had to observe the movements of Kunchacko Boban and Nayanthara. He says the film's script was clear about what his character was supposed to do, thereby making his job easier. He feels that the evolution of comedy in Malayalam cinema over the years has taught him how to adapt to certain situations. "It's difficult to make slapstick comedy work with today's audiences. Take that kitchen scene from Kumbalangi Nights. Fahadh simply had to peek when Anna Ben and Grace Antony were in the middle of a conversation, and the entire theatre erupted into laughter. Even Theevandi, Nizhal, and Bhramam have that sort of subtle humour," he observes.
Aneesh also prefers to create a proper background for his character and gauge the dynamics of his character with that of the other actors in the film, provided he gets the script in advance. However, if given an opportunity, Aneesh would opt for emotional roles instead. "I'm someone who can cry a lot. For instance, when I did that in the film Eeyal, everyone in the set also got so emotional," he recalls. "I don't need glycerine. People get surprised when someone who usually makes them laugh does the opposite to them."
In this conversation, we also touched upon his side career as a movie poster maker. Aneesh runs his own firm Yellowtooth which worked on eye-catching designs for popular films such as Operation Java, Joji, Halal Love Story, and the upcoming Kunchacko Boban-Arvind Swami-starrer, Ottu.
Like many affected by the pandemic, Aneesh, too, had to close his Kochi office for a temporary period due to financial hurdles. "I was going through a distressing time as I was not only dealing with the fact that the films I acted in remain unreleased but the poster work stopped as well. It was tough. What maintained my sanity was my movie dreams," he shares. "But things are slowly returning to normalcy for us. We reopened the office in a different location, and there is a plan to open a design institute in February. I feel that professional poster designers with enough experience under their belt should be teaching it instead of someone inexperienced. Knowledge is to be shared. I don't get why some people are reluctant to pass their knowledge on to others. The staff at my office are my former students. I can trust them to do a thorough job when I'm busy with my acting commitments."