As long as it is edible, it is tasty: Mallu actor Aju Varghese opens up about trolls
Actor Aju Varghese has managed to hog the limelights since his debut in the Malayalam film industry. Aju Varghese has been tagged as the “next Jagathy Sreekumar of Mollywood” for being part of almost all the hit movies in the Malayalam entertainment industry.
However, the comedian, who made his acting debut in Vineeth Sreenivasan’s directorial venture, “Malarvaadi Arts Club,” along with Nivin Pauly, is not just known for his acting skills. He has now become one of the most popular movie promoters in Malayalam, as he often shares news, reviews as well as other promotional activities related to movies through his official Facebook page.
There is a special charm in his acting, which entertains each and everyone of us. The actor is having a handful of projects in his kitty and going by the numbers, the season ahead would surely belong to this actor. The Onam season ahead would witness the release of a good number of movies and Aju Varghese is a common name in most of the films.
An upbeat Aju talks to Narada News about how much he trusts his friends in the industry and how good movies always have an audience, irrespective of the cast…
Q : Majority of new movies releases have one name in common in its title card – “Online Promotion – Aju Varghese”.
Ans.: I really enjoy the trolls saying that. Honestly we do not own any major media franchisees, so to an extent we ourselves have to take steps to promote our work. Whatever fascinates me, I share it on my Facebook page, whether it’s an artistic movie, song, picture, video etc. If these trolls through my page are bringing certain names to the attention of people, isn’t it a better incentive for the creators!
Most importantly, rather than seeing myself as a celebrity using the medium called Facebook, I am more of a film spectator or a lover of films. If because of me, these works of art are known to at least four persons, it gives me the greatest satisfaction.
Q : So is it right to say that your promotions are a huge support for the producers?
A : As far as I am concerned, the most important person for the creation of a film is the producer itself. Even if you have a very talented scriptwriter or an exceptional director, without a producer, the film will not come into being. Everything that is required for the completion of a film, from the smallest requirement to the biggest, comes out of the producers’ pocket. A film is said to be made of good quality only when the producer provides for the best equipment and environment to the filmmakers. So when a movie comes out that is as per my liking, I find happiness in promoting such films. So, if at least two people on seeing my promotion go to watch the movie, the producers makes the money. Isn’t it the most valuable help that I can give to a producer?
Q : What is the chemistry between Aju Varghese and Social Media?
A : Social media is like a very sharp sword. If you have done bad films, social media would be your worst enemy. In reality, we all try to make good movies. However, not all movies reach the level we expect. In such situations, social media becomes a curse. However, if your movie is a success, you will be treated as royalty. The trolls that follow only help in promoting the films further. These trolls play an important part in the promotion of such movies. I am happier to share trolls that help in the promotion of any film on my Facebook page.
Q : Trolls coming out recently have your name in common and all these trolls are first shared by you.
A : The reason why I love ICU, Trollmalayalam, Trollmollywood and many other troll group pages, is for their creativity. To an extent, while doing a movie we also think about these trolls. Whenever we do a scene, we discuss whether this scene would come out as a troll. The healthy criticism that we get from these trolls we take it in our stride. However such criticism should not be biased, revengeful or targeting any person.
Q : Movies such as ‘Velimooga’, ‘Adi Kapyare Kootamani’, ‘Kunjiramayanam’, ‘Ann Mary Kallipilanu’, ‘Pretham’ etc., are movies which became a hit through word of mouth. What is your take on that?
A : If we think outside the sphere of social media, we will understand that a positive word of mouth is the best promotion for any movie. Reason being there is no falsity to such reviews. Only if a person truly enjoys the movie will he go about saying good reviews about it. Even if we do not believe any other type of reviews on pretext of it being a paid review, a word of mouth review from a spectator will never come within the same category. When movies without superstars are released in theatres, we need audiences to come and watch the films. For bringing in these audiences, we require the help of social media. After which, the success of the film solely depends on audience response.
Q : One of the hot topics that have been discussed extensively in recent times is the censor board issue. Scenes depicting violence, obscenity etc are being censored out. Recently, we have seen an increase in scenes having double meaning in Malayalam movies and you having been part of such movies. What is your take on this issue?
A : It is a very important issue that has to be discussed, however, my personal opinion is that censoring should be banned. Cinema is both for entertainment as well as business. For a film to be successful, the family crowd has to reach the theatres. If we showcase uncensored movies to this family audience, we will see a decline in families going to watch films in theatres. This will affect the industry. I’m not saying that real life movies should not be produced, but such movies should be made by people who have prior experience. When people who do not know how to make such movies experiment, it creates a lot of issues.
Q : For a film star, it is natural to get married many times on screen. As per the character, you have to change your appearance and act your emotions accordingly. However, you have been very fortunate to showcase you wedding video as part of a movie’s climax scene.
A : It was in the movie ‘Ring Master’ directed by Rafi sir that this happened. My marriage happened one week after the shooting of the film ended. Due to the busy shooting schedule, I couldn’t even buy a new attire. The only thing important to me was that it had to be washed and ironed. Luckily, I got my wedding attire. It was only after the marriage ceremony Rafi sir suggested that my character, Peter, in Ring Master had to have a final scene. He described the end scene as Peter, after being a successful director, gets married and for this he wanted to use my wedding video. Later, in the movie ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’, my children also acted. Since the movie was shot in Dubai and also the very fact that it was made by my friends, everybody’s family were in Dubai.
Q : While shooting the movie ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’, there where quite a lot of Malayalis to watch the shooting. As an actor and assistant director, did you find any difficulty?
A : It was quite a task indeed. Every time we were trying to move the spectators, they demanded that they would only move if we let them take a selfie.
Since the production in Dubai itself is costly as every minute counts, we didn’t have much time to waste so when Vineeth send me to control the crowd, the next thing he saw was me taking selfies with them.
Q : A film with Vineeth’s script, Nivin’s production and Aju’s acting — has that ever been your dream?
A : Honestly till now I have never seen such a dream but it sounds fun. I really enjoy movies which are produced by actors. I have been fortunate to work with Dileep chettan’s Grand Productions ,Srini sir’s and Mukesh sir’s Lumier Films, Asif Ali’s Adams, Jayettan’s Dream and Beyond, Chakochan’s Udaya and many other production houses led by actors.
Q : In social media, both you and Jayasurya have been quite active. Both of you not only promote your own movies, but that also of your friends. Like your family, his family has also acted in movies. The only difference between you two is with regard to production.
A : Production can be done in two ways either by using your own money or using some other person’s money. Since I don’t have any money, I haven’t ventured into that area.
Q : Nowadays majority of the actors select the movie only after reading the entire script. However you are different.
A : It is not because I’m different, I prefer the story more than the script, as it gives me more satisfaction. I enjoy listening to the story like a person after watching a movie explaining to his friend. As I enjoy spending time with the director, I also get an insight into how the director is going to use me in the film, as their visualization of the story is what drives me. However, certain times it does not work.
When I think about it, in a certain way it is wrong, since it is always better to commit to a movie after reading the entire script. But the problem lies in the fact that once you read the script, you will be focused only on the totality of the film. Rather, I prefer knowing only about the scenes which I am acting since it gives me more focus and time to think about it and make it better.
Every actor dreams about acting for certain directors and I am one among such actors who want to work with all the stalwarts of the industry.
Q : What is the genre of movies that you are interested in…
A : I would love to work in films like those made by Sreeni sir and Priyan sir. Films where the story as well humour are given equal importance. I would have loved to be part of movies such as ‘Kilukkam’, ‘Chitram’, ‘Mukundetta Sumitra Vilikkunnu’, ‘Vandhanam’, ‘Chinda Vishtayaya Shyamala’ etc. As I myself was quite lethargic while growing up, I always enjoyed the character ‘Vijayan’ in ‘Chinda Vishtayaya Shyamala’.
Q : Apart from movies, what have you aspired to achieve?
A : Me being a foodie, I have always wanted to start a restaurant. But personally I don’t like cooking.
Q : Of the movies released recently, which among these characters have you liked the most; Sudhi, Charlie and C.K. Raghavan?
A : Raghavan is played by Mammokka. Mammokka, Lalettan, Sureshettan are three actors who have impeccable reputation as none of the scenes they act go in vain. So, it is not a surprise that Mammookka was able to portray the role of Raghavan effortlessly.
At the same time, Jayettan made a mark with his exceptional character portrayal of Sudhi in ‘Sudhi Valmeekam’ as it is very difficult role to dub. As Mammokka and Lalettan have portrayed many powerful characters on screen throughout the years, Jayettan imbibed the confidence from these actors to portray this challenging role.
The role played by Dulquar in ‘Charlie’ received mass approval because of the perfect character portrayal. It is very difficult Charlie and Sudhi – as one is a very mystic character and the other is a ordinary person who has to overcome an extraordinary disability.
Q : Recently there has been quite a lot of discussion regarding guest roles in the Malayalam industry. Being a person who has played various guest roles in movies like ‘Manikallu’, ‘Neram’, ‘Mayamohini’, ‘Bicycle Thief’, ‘Aadu’, ‘Mathayi Kuzhapakaran Alla’, ‘Loham’, ‘Puthiya Niyamam’, ‘Oppam’, would it be wrong to say that you must have played a majority of guest roles in Malayalam film industry?
A : In the movie ‘Aadu’, I was initially cast to play the character of “Captain Cletus”, the role played by Dharmajan in the movie, but due to my prior commitments in various projects like ‘Vadakkan Selfie’ and ‘Mariam Mukku’, I was forced to decline from playing the same. Keeping aside ‘Manika Kallu’, all other projects that I have committed are those made by friends. Roles played by me in ‘Loham’ and ‘Oppam’ were personally requested by me to Renjith sir and Priyadarshan Sir because of desire to associate with them.
Q : Of lately, which is the best guest role that you have seen in a Malayalam movie?
A : It is definitely the role played by Dulqar in the movie ‘Ann Maria Kalippilanu’, as his role in the movie has contributed a lot in the initial collection. Subsequently, the people really like the movie and by word of mouth, it gained huge publicity and due to which it became a great success.
Q : Tell us more about your role as Denny Kokkan in movie ‘Pretham’.
A : Initially, I was offered to play the character of Shibu played by GP and then it got shifted to character Priyanlal played by Sheraff and finally reached the character Denny Kokkan. As advised by Renjith sir to go for more serious roles which was unconventional for me, led me to finally choose the character Denny Kokkan. I am a person who is greatly inspired by the performance of Siddiqikka, Nedumudi Venu sir and Kuttettan (Vijayaraghavan) and I always imbibe their styles of characterization while portraying a character on screen, the rest is all in the hands of the director.
Q : One of the most popular trolls in the social media was “Malayaliyude Gheeroast Nivin Paulyum Masala Dosa Jayasurya anenkil, athinoppam kittunaa Uzhunnu vada Aju Varguese alle” (If Nivin Pauly is Malayali’s Ghee Roast and Jayasurya Masala Dosa, then Aju Varghese is the Uzhunnu Vada served as an accompaniment).
A : I always welcome and enjoy such trolls. As long as it is edible, it is tasty.
Q: Is there any role that you have felt not to have been done?
A : We all do movies expecting it to be a success, however one role which I regret is the name “Major Ravi” given to the character Shajahan and Parikutty.
Q : What are you new movies in the pipeline?
A : ‘Oppam’, ‘Welcome to Central Jail’, ‘Ore Mugham’, ‘Godha’ etc…