Having the last laugh

Having the last laugh
Malayalam cinema or Mollywood had reaped a rich harvest with over a dozen national awards for films made in 2012. 

However, this time around for 2013, it had to be content with just five awards with the other south Indian films together bagging a dozen. 

But one award, which raised plenty of eyebrows, was the Best Actor Award won by the popular Malayalam comedian Suraj Venjaramoodu for the film Perariyathavar, helmed by Dr Biju. 
 
By winning this coveted award, Suraj has become the second mimicry artiste-turned-actor after Salim Kumar, who won the award for the film Aadaminte Magan, to clinch the honour.

More than the recognition, Suraj will definitely treasure the comments made by the Feature Film Awards Jury chairman, the well known director Saeed Mirza, who observed that the actor had turned in an incredibly dignified performance in the film and that he would have lost sleep if Suraj had not featured in the awardees list. 

Making a mark

Perariyathavar is a grim tale of human suffering with the main protagonist played by Suraj being just a faceless, nameless municipality sweeper with a 10-year-old son. 

With just a handful of actors, Biju has woven a tale of human emotions and Suraj’s character has only a few lines to speak right through the film. 

For someone working as a comedian, this role was the ultimate challenge, and the actor who never expected to be cast as the hero, vindicated the director’s faith in him. 

Biju, who was on the lookout for an actor who could portray a common man weighed down by his trials, zeroed in on Suraj, though the latter had little experience in essaying such roles.

What added more grit to the film, which was also named as the Best Film on Environmental Conservation/Preservation, was the lack of melodrama or action sequences. 

As Suraj himself has averred, his frequent interaction with people in his hometown Venjaramoodu stood him in good stead while playing this role. 

The actor has also confessed that even for his comic roles, he often relies on his stock of quirks that he has witnessed in the people around him and which he ­has stored in memory. 

The irony, however, is that Suraj and this film have drawn a blank in the Kerala State Awards announced recently, where the actor had to be content with just the Best Comedian Award for his films Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus starring Mammootty, and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, which had Kunchako Boban in the lead.

Suraj had played the hero in a couple of films before, but these films — Duplicate and Thaskara Lahala failed to make it big at the box-office. However, ever since he started out as a comedian, Suraj has never had a dearth of offers. 

The actor is determined not to let this award confine him only to serious roles.

Comic timing

There is hardly any hero in the Malayalam film industry with whom Suraj has not shared screen space and he has always ensured that his comedy remains fresh. 

Speaking the local slang with the right voice modulation, mimicking an alcoholic to perfection and donning novel get-ups have all been a part of his act.

Significant films that are a part of Suraj’s filmography include Arabikatha, Annan Thambi, Veruthe Oru Bharya, Lollipop, Gulumal, Adaminte Makan Abu, Nadodi Mannan etc. 

He is presently busy with films including Ringmaster, Polytechnic and Garbasreeman, where he has been cast as a pregnant man. 

Suraj, who was first noticed by the industry when he spoofed it in a TV programme Jagapoga today, has the pick of roles to choose from. 

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