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In a different mould

VIJAY GEORGE

Salim Kumar comes up with an award-winning performance in `Achanurangatha Veedu.'


I know that such roles are hard to come by... With my image as a comedian, the chances for such a role were not very bright.



TELLING A FATHER'S STORY: Salim Kumar, left, with Murali, in a scene from `Achanurangatha Veedu.'

He has proved he is not all laughs and slapstick comedy through his role in `Achanurangatha Veedu.' Actor Salim Kumar is on a high as he has won the Kerala State film award for the second best actor.

In `Achanurangatha Veedu', Salim is Samuel, a widower and a government employee on the verge of retirement. He has three young daughters. His world falls apart when his youngest daughter fails to return from school one day.

He is shattered when he learns that his youngest daughter has been gang-raped.The film sensitively portrays the angst of the family of a gang-rape victim.

What does the award mean to him?

"It's a great recognition, which perhaps has put more responsibilities on my shoulders. I know that such roles are hard to come by and only the very lucky ones get those. With my image as a comedian, the chances for such a role were not very bright. All this makes me feel privileged," says Salim.

Everyman's tale

He points out that Samuel is like any other individual. "Which means, what has happened to Samuel and his family can happen to any one of us. It's because we do not realise this that we persecute them further with our words."

Lal Jose, who has directed the movie, is happy that the announcement of the award has brought audiences to theatres. "After the awards were declared, it is quite natural for everyone to ask why Salim's talent was not highlighted earlier by directors, including myself, until now. Perhaps its fate."

Filmmaker Anup Kurian, who has made the well-appreciated `Manasarovar' says, "the so-called comedians in our films are surprisingly underrated. It's not fair to label a set of actors as comedians and expect them to behave in a silly manner in every film.

"Not every one from the fold gets the opportunity to showcase their talent in serious roles. Salimkumar has performed in a restrained but effective manner in `Achanurangatha Veedu' and has given more dimensions to his role as an actor."

To mould himself as Samuel, Salim tonsured his head.

Preparing for the role

"Also, I stopped drinking, practised yoga and lived on vegetables to look more fit, for the flashback scenes," he adds.

He is inundated with phone calls after the release of the film and more so after the award was announced.

"I am amazed by the reactions of some of the callers whom I have never met," says Salim.

Lal Jose points out that most of the comments from the viewers who called him after seeing the film were "God bless you" unlike the usual exclamations or exaggerated praise.

Has Salim decided to continue with serious roles from now on?

"No. And I have no problems with comic roles either. The kind of role I got in `Achanurangatha Veedu' happens only once in a while and for now, I am back with the kind of roles in which I am easily identified with. I think its best to keep that balance," says Salim.

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