Dev Mohan: Pulli's Stephen is the polar opposite of Sufi

The actor talks about his recent release Pulli, his film journey and more
Dev Mohan: Pulli's Stephen is the polar opposite of Sufi

A character or a myth, romanticised enough in social consciousness, would be conceived differently by various individuals. Dev Mohan whirled into the then-existing Malayali consciousness with flying colours as a Sufi, in Sufiyum Sujathayum (2020). But Dev is quick to dispel the notions of the myth by saying he is nothing like the titular Sufi. "Sufi has given me a lot of recognition and love. As a newcomer, I felt a lot of admiration. Following such a notable success can either be a burden or a responsibility. For me, it was always the latter, and that's how I became Stephen of Pulli. He is the polar opposite of the calm, composed, and soft-spoken Sufi. I got Sufiyum Sujathayum through auditions; in other words, it chose me, but I chose Pulli when I had even the slightest semblance of power to choose. While I was doing Sufiyum Sujathayum itself, I decided then that the next film would be a different film and a distinct character, devoid of any Sufi influence," says Dev.

Pulli was supposed to be Dev's second film, which he had committed in 2021, soon after his debut. Despite the delay and evolving audience sensibilities, Dev still feels confident about the upcoming thriller. "Pulli is set in the backdrop of a jail and tells the story of Stephen along with some other inmates. The narrative has been padded with all the elements expected from a thriller. Of course, there will be the proverbial twists and turns," says Dev, who is pragmatic enough to accept that he might have done things differently now in terms of his performance. "Every actor should be inclined to keep evolving, and never feel satisfied with their performance. Learning and self-improvement should be a continuous process. It is natural to think there is always room for improvement."

While Pulli was getting ready, Dev transcended language boundaries and found himself sharing the limelight with notable stars like Samantha in his first Non-Malayalam film, Shaakuntalam. "The scenarios are changing. We're projecting the idea of pan-India more than ever. Earlier, we had an unambiguous demarcation of our stars and their stars...but now these pronouns associated with the stars are gradually diminishing, and the actor and the prominence of a script prevail. In my case, I hadn't planned anything earlier. Shaakuntalam found its way to me. And acting is my passion; thus, I don't consider language a barrier." says Dev.

Despite being one of the much-anticipated films of 2023, Shaakuntalam failed to match that hype. "I will do my best and dedicate my whole self to a film while I am working on it. But, at the end of the day, it is in the hands of the audience. When a film is celebrated as a team effort, failure is also the same. Everyone shares equal responsibility. We have to accept it, learn from it, and move forward," adds the actor who played the role of Dushyanta in the film.

The stint for Dev in the Telugu film industry is on an upward trajectory as the actor will be next seen alongside Rashmika Mandanna in Rainbow. Responding to unfounded criticisms about him being overshadowed by his more prominent co-stars in women-lead films, Dev signs off by saying, "Cinema is a lucrative industry that depends on various factors. When you consider movies like Shaakuntalam or Rainbow, it's undeniable that Samantha and Rashmika are the major selling points. However, I have played significant roles in both of these movies and have not been sidelined. I am not bothered about the male-female discussion of who anchors whom. That discussion is secondary to me. For me, it is the script that matters the most."

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