Gokul Suresh-Gaganachari
Gokul Suresh-Gaganachari poster

Gokul Suresh: Gaganachari is just the tip of the iceberg

The actor talks about the reception for his latest release Gaganachari, why it's still not his most satisfying film yet and his desire to experiment

Gokul Suresh is everything like his father; from looks to personality to his no-nonsense attitude, he is indeed Suresh Gopi 2.0. But with his career, Gokul isn't very keen on following his superstar father's footsteps as such. Unlike other celebrity kids, Gokul is also in no hurry to establish himself as the 'next big thing.' In fact, he is yet to do a full-fledged, larger-than-life role—a prerequisite to being among the A-listers. The youngster instead prefers experimenting with genres, and there's no better example of it than his latest release, Gaganachari, a sci-fi mockumentary set in a dystopian Kerala. The Arun Chandu directorial is the first of its kind attempt in Malayalam cinema, and the film is garnering all the adulation it deserves, even if it's from a niche audience. After being in the cans for several months, managing a theatrical release itself would have meant success, but the positive response has made it merrier. While Kerala's sci-fi buffs seem to have unanimously lapped up the film, those new to it are already keen to explore more in the genre. Unruffled by the sudden burst of appreciation, Gokul cuts a composed persona as he is more relieved than pleased about the film finally reaching the deserving audience.

Excerpts

Q

How convinced were you of Arun's vision to execute something like Gaganachari, an extremely ambitious film with no such predecessors in Malayalam?

A

I had worked with Arun before in Sayanna Varthakal (2022), which was again not a regular, straightforward film. We attempted to discuss some hard-hitting politics in it, but unfortunately, the release got delayed, and by the time it came out, the film lost its relevance. During Covid, even though we were depressed about the uncertainty around Sayanna Varthakal's release, we continued discussing new concepts like Gaganachari. I could also instantly relate to what Arun was attempting with it, as we both share similar tastes in films. I was able to visualise almost the entire film when Arun narrated it. Since then, the film has been as close to my heart as it has been to the director.

Q

So, are you also into high-concept science-fiction?

A

I've always been a huge fan of such works, starting from Marvel films to sitcoms like The Simpsons and Rick and Morty. There was a time when I used to get weird stares from people in the theatre while I waited all alone for Marvel's post-credits scene, but times have changed now, and there's a dedicated fanbase for such content. Our audience is much more evolved today, ready to accept fresh concepts and support the industry. It's just that we shouldn't underestimate the audience and treat them as idiots.

Q

But were you ever concerned if Gaganachari would reach only niche audiences who are familiar with such content?

A

I was well aware of this film's scope and our ambitions. Arun and I had the utmost conviction in the film, and it was so strong that we even included an Easter egg about a superhero character. The Easter egg wouldn't have mattered had Gaganachari not succeeded, but thankfully, we are now in a position to start thinking about it.

Q

Is that Maniyan Chittappan, the recently announced film with your father?

A

Yes, it's a spinoff, part of the Gaganachari universe, opening up the possibility for the existing characters to have interdimensional travel. Since Gaganachari is now a success, maybe my character Allen's re-entry will be well received. The idea is to recreate 'wow moments' similar to those in Marvel films, like seeing a Hulk or Doctor Strange in an Iron Man film.

Suresh Gopi-Maniyan Chittappan
A poster of Suresh Gopi from Maniyan Chittappan
Q

What was the brief for playing Allen, a cinephile carrying plenty of insecurities?

A

Allen is someone from the future, born in a post-apocalyptic world. He might not have good parenting, which is suggested in a scene where he asks Aliyamma to caress his hair while he sobs. Though he has never experienced that touch before, he has seen it in films during emotional scenes. He's a cinephile who learned about human emotions only through cinema. The characterisations were similarly deep and properly etched for all of them, but it was impossible to explore each person's arc within 1.5 hours.

Gagnachari-Gokul Suresh
Gagnachari star Gokul Suresh
Q

Comedy seems to come naturally to you. Do you think that's your biggest strength as an actor?

A

I've always loved making people laugh, particularly during family gatherings. So, it's true that I'm comfortable with humour, but Gaganachari was still different. Though I have done comedy before, those films had my characters ending up in funny situations, but Allen demanded that I look and behave like a comic person. So, I had to incorporate those details into my body language. Comedy is certainly a tough art to pull off, but I also think my biggest strength shouldn't be restricted to that. I would like to explore a variety of character shades. If you check my filmography, you can see that I've not been particular about doing just hero roles. I don't have any qualms about playing supporting characters. Even in Gaganachari, I knew it was a female-oriented subject where the heroine has all the superpowers and mine is sort of a 'mandan' role, but I don't have any such image concerns.

Q

Would you rate Gaganachari as your most satisfying film yet?

A

No, it's actually Sayyana Varthakal, and Ravikumar, my character in it, is my favourite. I travelled with it for three years, but it went unnoticed. With Gaganachari, we have just managed to scratch the surface as we visualised a lot more than what you now see in the film. We are still not convinced of the universe's establishment, but this was the best we could do with the given budget. It's great that a producer was willing to invest in such a unique attempt, but the trust was not complete. It was only after the release and the positive reception that the film's true potential was realised. But we can't blame anyone either; this might be the norm with such experiments. Hopefully, we'll be able to explore more of the universe through the spinoffs. As of now, let's say, Gaganachari is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gokul Suresh-Sayyana Varthakal
Sayyana Varthakal star Gokul Suresh
Q

You come across as an outspoken person, just like your father. Do you think that comes in your way of getting offers?

A

No, I'm not outspoken. In fact, I hardly speak enough within the industry. With the media, I might react and get angry when provoked—probably because of my dad's genes—but not with those from the industry. I think industry insiders still consider me a paavam payyan, which I'm not. Regarding the decline in the number of projects I take up, it's a combination of both my being choosy and the lack of offers. When I get an offer, I always try to analyse the script and the director's potential to pull it off. If I don't feel confident enough in his ability, I won't sign it, even if it's a senior director. Similarly, I'm not interested in films with too many actors or getting stuck in generic roles. But I'm absolutely game if it's something like Gaganachari, where each person has significance without any bias. Since I'm not a star, I want to experiment and explore my acting potential better.

Q

Have you ever approached someone for a role?

A

I had approached some favourites like Vineeth (Sreenivasan) ettan, Jude (Anthany Joseph) ettan, and Midhun (Manuel Thomas) ettan, but it has been 3-4 years since then and none of them have offered me anything yet.

Q

Your brother Madhav is also into acting now. Do you discuss cinema at home?

A

Among my siblings, Madhav is the first person with whom I discuss films. His approach to cinema is much better than mine. He excels at keeping up with the industry's vibe, hanging out, and socialising, which are all very important. I'm not into any of that because of my inhibitions, which, unfortunately, have set a wrong impression about me. I don't call or meet anyone because I've seen how busy celebrity life is right from my childhood. People get very little free time, and I wouldn't want to disturb them. But Madhav doesn't care if they're comfortable or not; he's quick to strike a rapport with anyone.

Madhav Suresh (L), Dulquer Salmaan (M), Gokul Suresh (R)
Madhav Suresh (L), Dulquer Salmaan (M), Gokul Suresh (R)
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