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Exclusive! Shine Tom Chacko: Good screenplays give birth to unique characters with scope to perform

The Ishq actor, who plays Bhasi Pillai in Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Kurup, talks about his upcoming projects in this exclusive interview 

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Nov 09, 2021
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Shine Tom Chacko

In the past few years, Shine Tom Chacko has been going from strength to strength as an actor. Having proved that he can ease into characters of any shades through movies such as Unda, Ishq, Kuruthi, Operation Java and Love, Shine has been a constant presence in some of the best films to come out of the industry lately.

Those who have worked with him in his upcoming Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Kurup including its director Srinath Rajendran, have been hailing his performance. Days before the movie’s theatrical release, OTTplay caught up with the actor in Kochi for an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

You play Bhasi Pillai, who is inspired by Sukumara Kurup’s brother-in-law Bhaskara Pillai, the second accused in the Chacko murder case. Tell us about the effort that has gone into playing the character.

Srinath and his team already had a lot of references ready and they created an ambience of the 80s, which made it easier to get into the skin of the character. Even while I was shooting for Maniyarayile Ashokan, they had been telling me about Bhasi Pillai. He is an unpredictable character, and the team had given me the freedom while I was on the sets and performing. I think it’s from that liberty that Bhasi Pillai’s character evolved. He’s someone who is inebriated most of the time. Also, I was born in the 80s and we grew up watching films of that era. There were so many similar characters in that period in the movies that I had watched.

As it’s a period film, it’s almost a given that the visuals of the era would stand out. But how much of an importance does the mode of storytelling hold in case of Kurup?

Chacko’s murder happened in 1984. I was born in 1983, and this was a case that was discussed at regular intervals while I was growing up. The most talked-about incident is where Kurup got Chacko into the car, killed him and burnt his body and the vehicle. But this film is not just that episode. It spans from his younger years in his college, his romance, this incident and what happened after that. There are so many other stories that we haven’t heard – some of them might be real, some fictional. Even the tales that we have heard are from reports, about Bhaskara Pillai’s wife cooking chicken curry as police came to record his statement after the supposed death of Kurup. We don’t know what really transpired there. It might have the essence of truth but when it appears as news reports, it also comes with its set of embellishments. That way, in the movie, there are fictional elements.

You have been part of films such as Love and Kuruthi after the pandemic. But a project such as Kurup would have been nearly impossible to shoot if it was planned during this period.

Yes, of course. Right now, most of our films have stories set in a small space. Kurup had locations across the country and abroad. These days, we would just limit it to one or two main locations. Love happened during a time when we couldn’t step out. So, filmmakers are also now thinking of such contained stories that can be told in restrictive environments and yet are able to engage the audience. Like Kurup, you don’t have stories spanning decades or are set in a previous era now. This was not the case while I was growing up watching movies.

A still from Kurup

In the past few years, your performances in Unda, Love and Ishq have also got you noticed in other industries and that must have played a big role in you bagging the role in Vijay’s Beast.

Ishq, especially, because that’s what got the maximum reach; it’s the kind of film that not many have watched as it detailed a minor incident. I also believe that’s why it is watched by those outside Kerala too. We have had such movies before. For instance, P Padmarajan’s Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil where people get trapped in a place. But that film too had a lot of locations; Ishq on the other was predominantly set in 2-3 locations and the story was detailed. So, it’s the stellar screenplay that gives birth to unique characters. If the script isn’t great, you don’t get that scope to perform and even if you act well, it won’t work out.

Are you more comfortable playing intense roles?

Nothing of that sort. As an actor, I want to play all kinds of characters.

What can you tell us about your role in Beast?

I can’t reveal anything. All I can say is that I will finish shooting my portions this month and the movie will wrap up production by the end of December.

Ahaana Krishna and Shine Tom Chacko in a still from Adi

You are also part of Kurup production team’s Adi, which is directed by Prasobh Vijayan. What’s the film’s status?

After Kurup releases in theatres, Adi could be their next film. Now that theatres have opened, there’s no reason to wait. Films are made for theatres. Even Love, which was shot during the pandemic, released in theatres in the Gulf first and then in India, and only after that it dropped on OTT.

Most of the films right now are in a dilemma because they had earlier signed an agreement. Nobody had informed when theatres would open and what the pandemic situation would be. So, you can’t really blame anyone because so much investment has gone into each film.

What are your upcoming films?

I have finished Bheeshma Parvam. I am also part of Vichithram, Leo Thaddeus’ Panthrandu and Khalid Rahman’s Thallumala.

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