Unni Mukundan: I have aspirations to be a star, but that's not my sole focus

The actor talks about his recent Tamil film Garudan, which marks his return to the Industry after his debut film Seedan in 2011
Unni Mukundan:  I have aspirations to be a star, but that's not my sole focus

Actor Unni Mukundan is back in the Tamil film industry after a decade, with Garudan, where he shares screenspace with actors Soori and Sasikumar. On how it feels to be back in a Tamil film set, the actor says, "I love Tamil, and there is a sense of contentment I feel while speaking the language." The language and the city of Chennai evoked a sense of warm nostalgia for the actor. Back in 2011, he played Mano Ramalingam in Subramaniam Siva's Seedan, marking the beginning of his cinematic journey. "I was in Chennai for two to three years, and Seedan marked my debut as an actor in the film industry. Althoughthe film was not a remarkable success, it led to other film offers for me in Tamil. At the same time, I started working on projects in Malayalam, and as I am more comfortable speaking the language and the sense of ease that comes with it, my career flourished in the Malayalam film industry," says Unni, as he reflects on the initial stages of his career.

Apart from Malayalam, Unni reveals that he also found meaty roles in Telugu films as well. At such a juncture, why did he take such a long pause to return to Tamil? "Even when I was working in Malayalam and Telugu films, I was very particular about my choices in Tamil cinema. Despite being from Kerala, I started my career in Tamil cinema. After all, it is an industry that gave me an address. Over the past twelve years, I have been observing the evolution of the industry with keen interest, much like a child marvelling at something new," he says.

For choosing Garudan as his return to the industry, Unni points out a slew of reasons that made him pursue the film, "Malikappuram paved the way for Garudan to come to me. Producer K Kumar, who was also involved with Garudan, liked my work in Malikappuram. He suggested my name to the director, and that's how I got to hear the story of Garudan. I didn't know Durai Senthilkumar was the director until then, and I was thrilled to find out. He is a filmmaker I greatly admire, and I have been closely following his work. When I heard the story and learned that significant names like Vetri Maaran, Soori, Samuthirakani, and Sasikumar were also associated with the film, I was even more excited," elaborates the actor with much delight.

Unni, who shares the screen with heavyweights like Sasikumar and Soori in Garudan, is confident in his role and dismisses any concerns about being overshadowed. "For me, the most important thing is to grow as an actor. Of course, I have aspirations to be a star, but that's not my sole focus. I am not insecure, both personally and professionally. And I don't think of my roles being sidelined if I act as a villain or in a supporting role. I am very confident about my craft," says Unni, adding, "It is more of an overarching philosophy of 'I believe in me', rather than 'I love me'."

Further delving into his experience working in Garudan, Unni is most in awe of the master craftsman in Durai. He elucidates, "For over two days, Durai only filmed wide shots of me and didn't take any close-ups. When I asked him about it, he explained that he was studying my movements and thinking about how to incorporate them into the rest of the production. I really appreciate this thoughtful and open-minded approach to filmmaking, and it's something I'll always treasure from my time on the set of Garudan." The actor is currently working on the Malayalam films Get Set Baby and Marco. On his plans for the future, Unni says he would rather focus on the work he has now than map out his next move. "What I have learned from my experience in the industry is that you do your work, and the rest will flow. But I really wish to work with Durai once again," he signs off with a smile.

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