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Exclusive! Unni Lalu on Freedom Fight: Casting me was the most challenging fight the team had to face

Unni is one of the two leads in Pra. Thu. Mu, Jithin Issac Thomas’s segment from the latest Malayalam anthology, Freedom Fight

  • Megha Mukundan

Last Updated: 03.51 AM, Apr 22, 2022

Exclusive! Unni Lalu on Freedom Fight: Casting me was the most challenging fight the team had to face

Unnu Lalu (Photo: Instagram)

“Casting me into his film was the most challenging task Jithin had taken,” says Freedom Fight actor Unni Lalu. His performance in the segment Pra. Thu. Mu of the latest Malayalam anthology Freedom Fight is nothing less than intriguing, which has left the audiences in awe. It tells us nothing about Unni’s inexperience in any other genre than romance, or the segment being his first lead role in a feature film. Despite being sceptical, director Jithin Issac Thomas trusting the actor with the role has brought out one of the surprising performances on the screen.

Being the most disturbingly amazing segment, Pra.Thu. Mu talks about class politics by placing a ruler and his subjects as central characters. Set in the background of a septic tank cleaning, the local ruler (played by Siddarth Siva) crushes the cleaner (Unni) under his feet, to hold up all his pride and ego and most importantly, the upper-class privilege.

“I am on cloud nine since the release, as the role has caught everyone off guard, including myself,” says Unni in excitement, when OTTplay caught up with him for an interaction. The actor had a lot to say about being a part of the Jeo Baby-led anthology, stepping into a different genre for the first time, and his debut feature being his breakthrough. Excerpts:

“Took a leap with this film”

Unni has been trying his luck in acting for almost five years, being a part of many web series and short films. Romance being his go-to genre, the actor is quite popular for short films including 14 Days of Love. “I always wanted to extend myself to something different and new. It is not that I haven’t tried, but I think now it has all fallen in its right place,” he says and sighs.

When he was called for the film, the team was not sure as the script requires a fierce and intriguing character. “I loved the script the moment I heard it, and really wanted to try it out. I felt it would be such a loss as an actor if I didn’t work on it. I told Jithin the same, and him trusting me with the role, is one of the greatest risks he took,” he says. Unni is not short of words while talking about the ‘most supportive’ filmmaker. “He could have cast anyone else, yet I got the chance to be lucky,” he says.

“Jeo Baby’s dream team”

The Freedom Fight directorial team led by the award-winning director Jeo Baby, is something everyone has anticipated the most. The actor is also amused to be part of the project, which is led by Jeo Baby, director of The Great Indian Kitchen. He says, “Associating with Jeo Baby is something I have never thought of.”

He calls the opportunity to be part of the team a ‘golden chance’. “Being able to do an appreciable role, is the greatest achievement I can earn as an actor,” he says. He also recalled being lauded for his performance by Jeo Baby. He was having Al-Faham when he received a call from Jeo Baby. “He called me to appreciate my performance. I had food in my mouth, and couldn’t really get back to my senses for a minute, as I was receiving applause from the State-Award winning director,” says the thrilled actor.

“I could have broken my neck in that particular scene”

Freedom Fight was an arena of experiences for Unni. He has had challenging as well as fun moments at the shoot. He shares how he was once mistaken by the house owner as a helper on the set. “My costume in the movie was so shabby that the house owner literally came to me and asked to put on a shirt back. The team then explained to him that I was the main actor,” says the actor and laughs.

Pra. Thu. Mu has many disturbing scenes, especially where Siddarth sits on his face in a toilet. “That particular scene was so dangerous, that a single disbalance of Siddarth could have broken my neck. The whole team was present there, who was the epitome of support, and they are the only reason why I could pull off such a job.”

Acting in a role against the senior actor Siddharth, he thought, would be another challenging task for him. But it turned out to be easy as Siddharth was very encouraging and friendly, he says.

“Films being politically loud is a necessity”

“A politically loud film, is the filmmaker communicating his political ideas to the outer world. As Jithin has powerfully implied his politics through Pra. Thu. Mu and Jeo Baby through The Great Indian Kitchen, I think such films are a necessity,” he says about the politics discussed in the anthology. He adds, hats off to Jithin for presenting such a ‘rare and raw story and addressing a serious matter with it’. “The movie has made us all think about something we have never thought, through a way we have never journeyed,” he says.

“Social Media ki Jai”

The actor is all up for social media. Rather than the space being his strong support system, he also thinks it is a great promoter for art-based movies. “Many had called to appreciate me after just reading the reviews. So the effect of the media is really huge than we think. Everyone has a mobile phone today, and the accessibility, so it has become easier for artistes like us and for the audiences to have direct communication,” says Unni. “Moreover, it is the reviews on social media that have made a fine number of people watch the movie, so social media ki jai!,” says the actor who has a huge number of followers.

“Rekha and Aaravam on cards”

Unni has already bagged Jithin’s upcoming film, Rekha. The movie stars him in the lead, with Vincy Aloshious as the female lead. “It has all the elements from romance to feel-good to thriller. Although, it is also a chance for me to showcase my usual romantic skills on the big screen,” he says in a quirky tone.

The actor will also be seen in Aaravam, in which he plays a prominent role alongside Antony Varghese Pepe. “This film had been stagnated due to the pandemic, but now it is all cleared and we are gearing up for the shoot of the second schedule,” he concludes.

Freedom Fight also consists of segments directed by Jeo Baby, Akhil Anilkumar, Francies Louis, and Kunjila Mascillamani. The five tales have five different political takes, and the anthology is currently streaming on SonyLIV.