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Exclusive! Nivin Pauly: Saturday Night demanded an over-the-top performance but there’s also a reason for that

Nivin Pauly talks about his latest movies, Saturday Night and Padavettu, and the effort he put in for each of the characters

Exclusive! Nivin Pauly: Saturday Night demanded an over-the-top performance but there’s also a reason for that
Nivin Pauly in a still from Saturday Night
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 09.23 AM, Nov 03, 2022

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The recent promotional events for director Rosshan Andrrews’ Saturday Night probably saw Malayalam star Nivin Pauly in his element after a really long time. This could also be because he was in the company of his friends and is coming fresh off the success of Padavettu, which had him putting on one of his best performances.

Saturday Night, which is gearing up to hit theatres on November 4, has the actor back in a proper commercial comedy entertainer, a genre that has always been lucky for Nivin in the box office. In an exclusive interview with OTTPlay, the actor talks about his latest movies, Padavettu and Saturday Night, the effort behind each of these roles and more.

Nivin Pauly in Padavettu
Nivin Pauly in Padavettu

Your most recent release, Padavettu, probably had you putting up your most subtle performance – especially in the first half that demanded a mature and restrained portrayal of Ravi. What was your thought process that helped play a character who had a lot of pent-up frustration and was still apathetic in a way?

We had discussed a lot about what Ravi has been enduring. There was a lot more detailing into what happened after he met with the accident. He suffers from foot drop, where he can’t lift his leg. We show that in the first scene where he drags his foot. When you suffer a normal accident, you take a few months break to recuperate and then re-join work. But in Ravi’s case, he is unable to work. He tried but because of this problem, he couldn’t walk. There’s that fear in his mind, what if he gets stuck somewhere? To counter that he decided to just be at home.

Also, a cow was the reason his life was destroyed. So, he hates livestock, but he is forced to depend on them. He doesn’t want that but there’s no other way. So, his entire life has collapsed. His dreams of being a national-level athlete was unfulfilled, the girl he loved has left him and he can’t even work. So, as it says in the movie, he is useless. The only reason he hasn’t ended his life is because he is scared. So, all that frustration is inside him but he doesn’t show any of that in his expression. Liju briefed me about that several times and by the end of it, I was in that mental headspace.

Nivin Pauly in a still from Padavettu
Nivin Pauly in a still from Padavettu

The movie first went on floors in 2019 and by the time it concluded shooting, it was 2022. Was it easy ‘enduring’ such a character for three years?

There were many reasons the film was delayed – the pandemic and then financial constraints. So, I had to work on other movies during the interim. But we almost completed about 85% of the film in the first schedule itself. The final schedules were from the Paanju Paanju song sequence.

There were a lot of theatrical depictions of certain layers in Padavettu, probably because of Liju Krishna’s background in theatre. Did you ever doubt that maybe such sequences might not connect with the audience, especially when it’s pitched as a so-called commercial drama?

Not really. I think our audience wants to see something different from the usual patterns. Our aim was to make a commercial film but with different elements. How Liju had conceived certain scenes blended organically to the movie; the sound design as well as how music has been was able to bring some novelty to the movie. A lot of people praised my performance as well as the movie, especially the climax sequence. They felt it gave them a theatrical experience. When the effort we put in shows on screen, it’s always delightful.

Saturday Night is a totally different film compared to Padavettu. It has you playing an extremely vibrant and lively character. How much of a delight was it to work with friends such as Siju Wilson and Aju Varghese again?

It was fun. Rarely do you get a chance to work with your childhood friends in movies, and that too in such an entertainer that is directed by Rosshan chettan and made on a big scale. Each of us had our own journeys in films and returned to collaborate again for this film. So, there was that excitement after a long time. Also, I love doing entertainers. That said, it’s never easy because it can go wrong real fast. It’s a thin line. The movies should make people laugh and entertain them, and it’s always tricky.

Saturday Night poster
Saturday Night poster

The audience has always loved you more in entertainers. But is there a difference in the kind of entertainers that you want to be part of now, as compared to your previous superhits such as Premam or Thattathin Marayathu?

Not necessarily. I am not a very serious person; I like being entertained and to entertain. That has always been my vibe. So, for me, it’s about choosing the best from what comes my way.

Is the comedy in Saturday Night a bit over the top?

It is, actually. The reason the movie’s tagline is Kirukkanum Koottukaaram (Madman and his friends) is because of that. My character Stanley is like that due to several aspects that will become apparent once you watch the movie. He’s a bit abnormal, so it won’t work if we follow the same meter of performance as the usual entertainer.

Siju Wilson and Nivin Pauly during the promotions of Saturday Night
Siju Wilson and Nivin Pauly during the promotions of Saturday Night

All-out comedy entertainers are not something that you would not associate with Rosshan.

On the contrary, he is also someone who loves entertainers. When you talk to him, you would feel like he is a sombre person who loves to talk philosophy, but he is a genuinely funny person. We shot Kayamkulam Kochunni for almost six months and that’s a long time. Every day, we used to keep pulling each other’s leg and crack jokes. So, I knew that he would be able to pull off a film like Saturday Night.

He is known to be a taskmaster on the sets. Did that change for this film?

No, we are friends but, on the sets, if you want any film to work, you will have to maintain an actor-director relationship. While shooting every single scene, Rosshan chettan had that enthusiasm to explain everything; that he still maintains that passion for filmmaking after all this while also helps us. He is switched on, all the time. It’s great working with such filmmakers because actors can be more relaxed as they can faith that the director won’t do anything wrong to mess up the film. Rosshan chettan also doesn’t make compromises when it comes to filmmaking.