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Exclusive! Tovino Thomas: Being an ardent Vaikom Muhammed Basheer fan, it’s a blessing to work in Neelavelicham

The Malayalam star talks about working in Aashiq Abu’s adaptation of Basheer’s story

Exclusive! Tovino Thomas: Being an ardent Vaikom Muhammed Basheer fan, it’s a blessing to work in Neelavelicham
Tovino Thomas and poster of Neelavelicham | Pic credit: Nijith R Nair

Last Updated: 10.46 AM, Jul 05, 2022


While Tovino Thomas and Aashiq Abu have teamed up in various films such as Mayaanadhi and Naradhan that had pushed the actor as a performer, their latest team-up Neelavelicham was a challenge that the Minnal Murali star admittedly cherished. The reason being that it’s based on legendary writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s novel of the same name.

In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Tovino talked about the period movie and why playing a role in a movie based on Basheer’s story excited him as an actor as well as a “huge fan” of the writer even before he signed the film. 

“As part of Neelavelicham, I revisisted as well as read a few more of his books, and my respect and admiration for him grew further,” says Tovino. “He’s a legend because he was a freedom fighter, he had travelled across Indian and a lot of countries including Africa and Middle East back in his days, and he had a lot of love for his fellow beings. He is someone we can all look at as a role model. His sarcasm is renowned and the language that he used for his writings connected with common people.”

Being an ardent fan of the writer, who passed away 28 years ago, the chance to be part of such a film itself is rare, says Tovino. “To get to play a character in a film based on his work is a huge blessing and I don’t think it’s an opportunity that a lot of people get. I did a lot of research by myself and we also had a workshop,” he says. “My main challenge was to perform well and I put in a great amount of effort for the movie.”

Tovino had wrapped up his portions for the movie a month ago. On the challenges of making the film, the actor says, “The story is set in 1964. The language that we speak now is vastly different from what it was 58 years ago; Thrissivaperoor has become Thrissur and in place of, ‘Nee athu kandirinno?’, we just say, ‘Kanda?’. So, while attempting a period film like this, the biggest challenge was that it has to connect with the new-age audience but we can’t use today's Malayalam. At the same time, when we use the old Malayalam, it shouldn’t sound odd to today’s viewers. That’s the task that Aashiq Abu the director and Hrishikesh Bhaskaran the scriptwriter had to crack for the film.”

The film, which also has Rima Kallingal, Roshan Mathew and Shine Tom Chacko, has Shyju Khalid as the cinematographer while Rex Vijayan and Bijibal handle the music department.

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