Dileep open his heart!
An actor has to rediscover himself every few years to avoid falling into a rut.
For Dileep, this phase has been a turning point in his career as far as his selection of roles is concerned. The Meesamadhavan actor has ditched his usual slapstick formula for realistic roles for his past three releases. And unsurprisingly, all of them were well-received. In a candid interview, Dileep, who is now shooting for Two Countries in Kochi, opens up about what forced the change, why he’s done doing films on the basis of relationships and more.
Of late, there has been a marked difference in your films from the usual commercial potboilers. What forced the change?
Some of the movies that I have done in the past few years didn’t really perform well and I take the responsibility for those. I realise that the trend has changed and viewers now are more interested in realistic subjects. That’s how I ended up doing Chandrettan Evideya? But even that had a humour element, which is something that the audience always prefers me to do. They tell me that the reason why they watch my movies is to get away from their daily tensions and be entertained.
Your forte being comedy, did moving away from that have an impact on your fan base?
The kids who watched and enjoyed CID Moosa are the youth audience now and they still look for similar slapstick comedy elements in my films. Even the families tell me that they enjoy the mischief of my characters. Only a small section of people want me to do very serious films. Love 24×7 is a movie that satisfied that section. The majority still prefers me in entertainers. The recently-released Life of Josutty is a realistic film that tells the story of a normal man while my upcoming film Two Countries has a bit of exaggeration and over-the-top comedy, which is required in that movie. So there’s something for everyone this year.
Director Jeethu Joseph had said that you had given a free rein when it came to shaping your character in Life of Josutty, unlike in the past. Why?
The movie is special in that I don’t have a hero’s image in it. It’s a simple tale of what happens in real life. Such a story doesn’t warrant a superstar’s gimmicks or whitewashing of the character to suit a hero’s image. What was beautiful about the movie was how it showcased the goodness in people and why it is important to be genuine in life. You don’t have to physically fight to be a hero, there is heroism in sacrifice too.
How do you see the future of Malayalam cinema as an actor?
I am not saying that I know a lot about movies but cinema is my first love. Our films are now competing with those of other languages. Those industries have actually started to think big but we are still limited in that capacity, and justify that by saying that some movies don’t fit the Malayali outlook. I can attest that if we release good movies in Malayalam, we are capable of generating massive box office figures. A few films have already proved that, and I am lucky to be part of two such movies — Twenty20 and Mayamohini — as an actor and a producer and this was three years ago.
When other language films come to our State and are sweeping the box office, why are we still stuck on the idea of making small movies? I think it’s time we start thinking big in terms of production and premise.
You now double up as both mom and dad for your daughter Meenakshi. Does that have something to do with you cutting down the number of movies this year?
Not really. She was with me for most of my film shoots this year, and throughout Life of Josutty as it was her school vacation. I think the only time we were apart was for the filming of Two Countries. She’s studying as well and so we can’t spend a lot of time together during the day. She is mature for her age and knows how the acting schedule works.
You are running a few business ventures as well and acting takes up a lot of your time. Do you ever get time for yourself?
I am enjoying every moment I live. I always try to be in a place with a pleasant atmosphere and surround myself with my light-hearted friends. I have experienced a lot of hardships and sorrow in my life so when somebody else comes and tells me their worries, I try to help them in whatever way I can.
You have a lot of friends in the industry who you frequently collaborate with…
Rafi, Mecartin, Shafi, Udaykrishna, Sibi K Thomas, Benny P Nayarambalam, Siddique and Lal are very close to me. I have done a few films with Lohiettan (Lohitadas) whom I consider as a big brother. As far as I am concerned, I am among those lucky ones who can say that I grew with my friends. My friends are my strenghth, so I have nothing to fear. I only fear God and am honest in whatever I do. I don’t knowingly hurt anyone. Even if I have unintentionally offended people through my jokes, I immediately call them up and apologise when I realise it.
So what do you look for in the projects these days?
The last three movies have seen me play very different characters and based on the feedback, people also expect some differences every time they watch a movie of mine. What I am looking for right now in the roles offered is to see if there is anything new I can do. I am avoiding taking up the same kind of roles. I get upset when someone comes to me with a role I have already done but when I tell them that they don’t understand.
So you had to say yes just based on friendships?
A lot of films did happen that way. But I am trying to correct those mistakes and stop doing films on the basis of relationships. I have done films for people who came to me saying that they needed money for their daughter’s wedding, to build their houses, etc. Most of those films have not ended up well because how can a producer, who doesn’t have money to build his own house, pay the cast and crew? From those lessons, I have learnt that’s not how movies work. Ultimately, you have to have respect for this industry and the art. You don’t work in this industry because you are starving; you work in it despite starving. If making a livelihood had been my priority, I wouldn’t have been in cinema.