Narain, who plays a fisherman in Jude Anthany Joseph’s 2018, talks about his role, his experience shooting the film and more
“When the results are fruitful, the joy becomes immense,” says Malayalam actor Narain, as soon as we ask him about the feedback for his role in Jude Anthany Joseph’s latest movie 2018. “The film is getting brilliant responses and that’s something all of us are happy about.”
2018 has given several reasons for the industry to celebrate including bringing back people to theatres in a year that has till now only seen one movie becoming a huge success. For Narain, who has been looking for another breakthrough role in Malayalam, the character of Winston, a fisherman, has already become as memorable as some of his previous popular ones.
In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Narain talks about becoming part of the film, his experience shooting it and more.
You were one of those actors who weren’t part of the initial cast but was roped in after the movie restarted after the pandemic.
I had accidentally bumped into the film’s producer Anto (Joseph) chettan in Chennai a few years ago. At that time, I was about to do a movie with Jayam Ravi, and while we were talking, I told him that if something good comes up in Malayalam, please let me know. He said I should have turned my focus to Malayalam a long time ago. But within minutes, he said that he was doing a big film and there was an important character in it. ‘It would be good if you play that’, he said, adding that let him first talk to Jude. He then told me that it’s about the Kerala floods. I had heard about the movie when it was first announced.
I then met Jude when I came back to Kerala. He narrated the story and I was so moved. There are some movies where you don’t even have to hear the story for you to agree to be part of it. This was one of those movies. Usually when you are part of a multi-starrer, you want to know what is your part in it. But with regards to 2018, when I heard the concept itself, I was bowled over. I listened to the script, only out of curiosity, not to decide whether I want to do it or not. I don’t think anyone would have backed out of such a movie. It’s the kind of film that rarely happens. And it somehow found me. The entire credit for this goes to Jude and his vision.
What are the other elements about the film that appealed to you in particular?
It’s got a story that had to be told. It’s about hope. It doesn’t focus on the negatives. I mean that’s always there, but it’s about how you fight it out.
When I heard this script, the first thing I asked Jude was how was he going to shoot this? It’s not an easy movie to shoot at all. Then, of course, Anto chettan had told me that Lal ettan and Asif Ali will be playing my father and brother, respectively. I have worked with Asif in Kavi Uddheshichathu..? and with Lal ettan, who had produced my film Panthaya Kozhi. In fact, during the 2018 floods, we were shooting for Pengalila together. So, when you have good co-stars, the work becomes satisfying.
Jude has opted for practical effects for this film, unlike the usual disaster movies. The only portion that did have extensive VFX is the scene in the ship sequence, which you were part of.
Even for that, the massive structure was built and artificial waves were created by pumping water and varying its pressure. When these waves hit the boat, the force pushes you out, just like how it’s at sea. I would have fallen off the boat at least a dozen times, rendering those shots unusable. I sprained the ligament that connects my right thumb and to be honest, that pain is still there even after so many months. So, I had to wear a cast and had to paint it to match my skin colour. Luckily, this happened when only two to three days of shooting remained.
The feedback for the movie must be heartening, considering the effort that has gone into making it.
In a lot of movies, even when you say that you put in a lot of work into it and strained yourself, you would have still had some time to relax in between the shots. But in this film, when us actors, including me and Asif, would come to the sets, we know that what awaits us is wet and cold conditions. Apart from the few scenes in the house, all the other shots had us drenched. This goes on from 6pm to 6am; there was never a moment for you to dry yourself because the next shot would be ready by then. To make matters worse, there would be propellers to create the cold, windy ambience.
But the thing is when we turned up on the sets, we saw the effort everyone else – the director, the cameraman and the art director – had been putting in and that just makes us want to give our best too. Deep inside, I was proud and happy to be part of such a movie, even while we were making it.
It felt like a noble deed to be part of this film, especially because I was playing a fisherman. Rarely, we feel respect for the character that we play on screen and this was one such case. I was representing a community who risked their lives to rescue people. When you have that respect in your mind, all those other challenges are immaterial. We could only show a slice of their lives in the film because of the duration.