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Exclusive! Nivin Pauly: Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham uses humour in the least expected way through its characters

The Premam and Moothon star talks to OTTplay about his upcoming Disney+ Hotstar release, about the absurdist comedy in the film and his Tamil movie with Ram

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Nov 10, 2021
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Nivin Pauly

It’s been exactly two years and two days since Malayalam star Nivin Pauly’s last release Moothon. While he has completed several films including Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham and Abrid Shine’s Mahaveeryar during the period, his next release Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham is special for several releases – it marks his OTT debut and also will see him collaborate with a completely new team of actors for a comedy.

In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Nivin, who is also producing the Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval directorial that is set to release on Disney+ Hotstar on November 12, talks about the movie, what makes it different from the previous comedies he has been part of and his upcoming Tamil film with Ram.

What prompted you to produce Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham?

The humour in the film. As soon as I heard the narration, I was amused and found it interesting. Also, I loved Ratheesh ettan’s first film Android Kunjappan Ver. 5.25 and what I loved best about it is the comic timing in the movie. So, I thought it would be great if we could bring out a light-hearted entertainer during the pandemic, especially when everyone has been hearing news of grim circumstances.

More than a light-hearted comedy, Ratheesh has tried his hand at absurdist humour with Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham.

Yes, it’s got a lot of dialogues and humour that come at the most unexpected situations. The characters behave in a way we don’t usually expect them to, especially when placed in these circumstances. The humour isn’t too over-the-top but he’s written it in a comical way taking into account these aspects. For instance, how would you feel if the waiter, who comes to deliver your food in a hotel room you have checked into, sits with you to have that food? Such situations don’t really happen, but if it does how would you handle it? He’s built the circumstances based on such thoughts.

Ratheesh had earlier told us that the script of the movie evolved once the cast and crew got to the hotel where you were shooting, and there was a marked difference from what he had initially pitched to you.

The movie had a lot of amazing actors. Be it Grace (Antony) or Jaffer (Idukki) ikka, they had a lot to contribute and their comic timing and looks are very different. When you see that, a director and writer would want to use that to maximum advantage and tweak the script accordingly. That way we have improvised a lot, but the skeleton of the script remained the same.

In your earlier production Action Hero Biju too, Abrid Shine used to tweak the script regularly. As a producer, is it challenging to work with filmmakers who keep improvising as you can’t plan many things in advance?

Each director has their own style, and if you don’t give them that freedom, their inputs would be limited. Some filmmakers would have planned meticulously while others would have a skeleton of a script and then flesh it out on the sets. So, as a producer, as long as you can understand their style of filmmaking and be prepared, it’s fine.

Over the years, the Nivin Pauly-Aju Varghese combination has worked so well because you bounce off of each other. How different was it working with a new team in a comedy?

Everyone in this film is proficient at handling humour roles and so that itself was a different experience. While working with Vineeth or Dhyan (Sreenivasan), it’s more like a brotherhood because we started together. With Ratheeshettan, he’s a senior and so he was more like an elder brother.

What are the quirks that make your character Pavithran stand out from the previous roles?

The movie is about a husband and a wife, their ego problems, tiffs and reconciliation. Pavithran as a husband has an inferiority complex. He tries to control his wife, causing issues and then as they check in to a hotel to resolve, further problems crop up and how they together solve those is what Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham is in a nutshell. I haven’t done such a role before, and Grace's contribution to the film is massive. She is a promising artiste and it was fabulous to work with her. It was the same with everyone who was part of the cast including Vinay (Forrt) and Jafferikka.

Nivin Pauly and Grace Antony in a still from Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham

Was it a relief doing a feel-good movie after taking up intense roles in Padavettu, Thuramukham and Moothon?

It was a huge relief but at the same time, because we were also producing the film, there was tension. We had to ensure that nobody got infected and the shoot followed all COVID-19 protocols. That was the tough bit, but otherwise all of us enjoyed shooting this movie. If it was an investigative thriller or a serious film, it might not have necessarily enjoyed it as much as a comedy like this. Subsequently, the work was also delightful.

Nivin in a still from Thuramukham

During the lockdowns, a lot of have seemed to have revisited some of your comedies including Oru Vadakkan Selfie, Premam and Love Action Drama.

It’s probably because there wasn’t any humour-based content releasing. End of the day, people want to watch light-hearted content and be entertained. People are going through a stressful time – be it financial crunch or other issues. So, everybody wants to laugh, forget their worries and spend two hours of their time with their family. Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham will be such an enjoyable and fun film.

You are working in a Tamil movie again after Richie that is directed by National Award-winning director Ram. What can you tell us about the film?

We have finished one schedule. The next will be in December and another in January. Though it fits his array of films, it is told through humour. I like Ram sir as a person and a filmmaker, and that’s why I decided to do the movie. I am eagerly waiting to join the next schedule.

A lot of artistes have re-evaluated their creative choices during the pandemic lockdowns. How about you?

I did spend a lot of time discussing scripts and working on them. I watched a lot of videos about writing screenplays and improving them. Apart from that, I was enjoying spending time with my family.

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