The thought of pursuing an acting career never crossed my mind: Nikhil Renji Panicker
Ahead of the release of Kalamandalam Hyderali, the actor talks to us about portraying the artiste's younger days in the biopic
A while back, we had reported that Renji Panicker’s son Nikhil Renji Panicker is turning actor for the biopic of the first non-Hindu Kathakali singer, the late Kalamandalam Hyderali. Directed by Kiran G Nath and titled Kalamandalam Hyderali, the film, which chronicles the significant events in Hyderali’s life, is getting ready for release. Aju Narayanan has adapted the script using Hyderali’s biography as the source material.
The film has Renji Panicker portraying the latter period of Hyderali’s life, while Nikhil essays his younger days. Though Nikhil had earlier made a brief appearance in Roudram 2018, directed by Jayaraj, this is the first time that Nikhil is playing a central role.
“I depict the time when Hyderali graduated from Kalamandalam and later started working at FACT. I had to sport a pencil moustache and shed some weight to play the character,” says Nikhil, who had to lose around 10-15 kilos to resemble the younger Hyderali. “It took two-three months to attain a leaner physique. I had to play two phases of his youth — later 20s and early 30s.”
Nikhil, who is an advertising professional, says his acting debut was quite unexpected. “The thought of pursuing an acting career had never even crossed my mind,” he says.
Aside from his experience working as a line producer in his father’s directorial features, Nikhil has not been previously involved in any other filmmaking departments. When asked what advice his dad gave him on becoming an actor, Nikhil says, “He didn’t give me any acting tips as such. He just told me to try it and see how it goes. He is a practical man. He told me not to be too serious about it as acting is not something that everyone can do.”
The small-budget film also stars Ashokan, TG Ravi, and Paris Lakshmi. The late MJ Radhakrishnan has handled the frames and Anil Gopal has composed the tunes. Vinesh Mohan has produced the film under the banner of Vedhas Creations.