‘None of the well-written characters is easy’

Roshan Mathew

Directed by Geetu Mohandas, Malayalam film ‘Moothon’ tells the story of a 14-year-old boy from Lakshadweep who goes to Mumbai in search of his elder brother. 

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and at Mumbai Film Festival in October. 

In a tete-a-tete with Metrolife, actors Roshan Mathew and Melissa Raju Thomas shared their experience of working in the film.

Roshan Mathew

Roshan made his debut in 2016 with ‘Puthiya Niyaman’ and was later seen in ‘Aanandam’ and ‘Koode’. In ‘Moothon’, he plays Ameer, a mute and gay character. 

Was easy to get into the skin of Ameer? 

None of the well-written characters is easy. Easy is usually a bad thing. I had to learn sign language and I interacted with speech-impaired people to understand. I also went through workshops that helped me find the character and bring out the chemistry between me and Nivin Pauly’s character. 

What was it like going abroad with the movie? 

The crowd and culture are very different there. The movie was well-received. We were asked interesting questions at the festival too. The most interesting part for me was to see what their takeaway from the film was. Topics like gender identity, the taboo against homosexuality and so on were touched upon in the film, which they focused on.

There were reports that some in Kerala did not appreciate your gay role…

I don’t think that’s entirely true. Yes, of course, there were people who couldn’t digest my role as my opposite was the star Nivin Pauly, whose character was a Muslim homosexual character. But the positive comments the film received weighed out the negatives. 

After ‘Moothon’, you are playing one of the lead roles in Anurag Kashyap’s movie. How different was the set? 

Very different. Their (Geetu’s and Kashyap’s) approach to things is completely different. But my base in theatre has somewhat helped to cope. Having said that, both of them are directors you can blindly trust. They will take care of everything. 

What’s your role? 

We haven’t discussed much of the film to the public yet. But it’s a film about a couple who are suffocated in a bad marriage. 

Melissa Raju Thomas

Melissa Raju Thomas

Playing the role of Amina, ‘Moothon’ is Melissa’s debut movie. Earlier this year, she wrote and starred in the short film called ‘Faded’. She told Metrolife that she’s working on another one at the moment. 

Did you expect such recognition in your first movie?

Doesn’t everybody? I loved working with Geetu as she has an amazing sensibility and makes her actors feel very special. When you get to work in such an environment, it deeply impacts you. It’s the best thing that can happen to an actor. 

Take us back to when you got the role. 

I was in Mumbai when Geetu called. I flew down to Cochin where I auditioned. I will never forget the moment where I finished my scene, turned around to look at Geetu and she said: “I have found my Amina”. It was incredible. 

Where you always interested in acting? 

I have always dabbled in the performing arts. I used to write poetry and partake in plays at school. When I was studying in Singapore, I was part of a theatre group where we put up two original productions. That experience really drew me to the arts.

Even though ‘Moothon’ is your debut film, you’ve been part of the silver screen before…

Yes. My dad is an Army man and once he was posted to Thiruvananthapuram. I ended up auditioning to become an anchor on TV. I made it to the finals where I was the only teenager. I did that for a couple of years before I took a break to complete my studies. 

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