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Nivin Pauly: Thuramukham is an evenly-paced social drama with a moving culmination | Exclusive

Nivin Pauly talks about the issues with the producer of Thuramukham, his character Moidu and more

Last Updated: 09.05 AM, Mar 10, 2023


A three-year-long wait for the release of a big film is somewhat unheard of, especially in the Malayalam film industry that makes movies in relatively smaller budgets and tries to recover that investment soon. But director Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham has had to endure testing times.

The period film, which has Nivin Pauly, Indrajith Sukumaran, Joju George, Darshana Rajendran, Arjun Ashokan, Poornima Indrajith and Sudev Nair as part of the cast, is finally hitting theatres on March 10. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Nivin, who plays the anti-hero in the movie, talks about the reason for the film’s delay, his character and about his experience working in Thuramukham.

Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham
Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham

Thuramukham was supposed to first release in April 2020. It’s a big film – in terms of its scale as well as the number of people who were part of it – that was made with a lot of effort and energy. So, was the three-year-long wait for it to hit theatres frustrating?

Yes, because this wasn’t a film that deserved this kind of treatment. There’s a sort of respect that you give to a movie that is helmed by someone as regarded as Rajeevettan. But when a person manipulates everyone’s time and name for money and personal gains, it’s just not fair. The producer still doesn’t have any sort of reverence to the movie that we have made; for him it’s just a means for making more money.

Listin Stephen has taken the onus to now release this film and the producers are now benefitting from him taking the lead. Listin didn’t have to do any of this; he’s producing so many other movies.

When we sensed such a predicament, we had asked Rajeevettan to appoint someone to keep track of the budget because there’s always a chance that they would be inflate it and we would have to bear the liability. Rajeevettan kept the budget in check, because he’s a filmmaker who is aware of the aesthetics and knows precisely what is required in each frame. It’s only because of his exact planning that his movie was completed in the set budget.


Every artiste and technician who had worked in this movie, out of respect for and the wish to work with Rajeevettan, have compromised on their remunerations as well as dates. The producer, who was aware of all of this, used all us. The film’s satellite and OTT rights were sold before the movie had begun, so 70% of the budget was already covered by that revenue. The rest would have got covered by its distribution and overseas rights. So, the fate of a movie that would have made table profit was made complicated by its producer.

The irony is that he has recovered all this money and still has not paid anyone. Rajeevettan was not paid, I didn’t take my remuneration; even those who had worked for minimum wage weren’t compensated. So, it’s a crime, especially in an industry like ours that has a producers’ association. The body is aware of what happened with Thuramukham, they are just waiting for the film to release somehow. There are so many other things that have happened that we want to talk about later.

Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham
Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham

You play a character named Moidu, a labourer from Mattancherry in this movie, which is set in the 1930s to 50s. You have been part of other period films too such as Kayamkulam Kochunni the past decade. Is there a process that you follow while acting in such movies?

For Thuramukham, there wasn’t an intense process or a training workshop to get into the role. Rajeevettan’s brief was, “Don’t do anything. Just turn up on the sets and I will take care of everything else.” He would guide us with absolute clarity, while also giving us complete freedom. Only thing he would demand was that we had to be in character. “You have read the script, so turn up as the character in front of the camera. Don’t be Nivin Pauly,” he would say. So, all of us who were part of the film, have tried to do justice to that.

Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham
Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham

The 1953 protests against the inhuman chappa system are a forgotten chapter in history. How aware were of the incidents?

I was not aware of it either. A few of us had got together after the Thuramukham play in Kochi in 2018. That was when Rajeevettan narrated the story to me and asked me casually, “Will you act in it?” I said yes and that’s how the project got greenlit. It wasn’t pre-planned at all. It was decided in a spur of a moment and then made into a movie.

Thuramukham is made on a big scale though. It was a few action sequences and the film in its entirety gas been picturised well. I wouldn’t say it’s an out-and-out commercial movie. The story evolves at a medium pace and the fight sequences are organically weaved into that. It’s not a film where the hero reigns supreme. It’s a social drama with a moving culmination.

Nivin Pauly in Thuramukham
Nivin Pauly in Thuramukham

From the trailers, you get the feeling that Moidu is one of those rebellious characters. Is it?

A few days ago, Poornima Indrajith had said a lot of us are privileged; we don’t have to worry about food, shelter, clothes or money. But this story is set in a time where those needs aren’t fulfilled for the majority. To survive, people had chosen to go different ways – right and wrong. Moidu is someone who treaded the wrong path. He doesn’t have anyone to please. He just wants to ensure that he brings money home. So, his life has slipped considerably from the morally right path.

Moidu is the film’s anti-hero. The audience would probably love Arjun Ashokan’s character more in the film and despise mine. People would think why is my character behaving this way, but Moidu has his own justification for that. He just doesn’t care about anyone else.

Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham
Nivin Pauly in a still from Thuramukham

You had worked with Rajeev Ravi earlier in Moothon, in which he was the cinematographer. Did the intense workshops and training in that movie help you ease into his process of working, which is less process-oriented, in Thuramukham?

It did, actually. As I had said, he just wants you to turn up as the character. He doesn’t even want you to learn the dialogues by rote. He wants you as a raw character. All those processes that you have in your mind, he wants you to forget all of that and be at ease. There were combinations with a lot of talented actors in the film too and there was that energy exchange, which I enjoyed a lot.

Nivin Pauly in a location still from Haneef Adeni's next
Nivin Pauly in a location still from Haneef Adeni's next

You have signed two films helmed by Haneef Adeni and Dijo Jose Antony. What can you tell us about those?

They are both entertainers. I am currently shooting for Haneef’s film in Dubai; we will wrap it up soon. After that I will begin Dijo’s movie. It’s too soon to talk about either of the films. I want to do more commercial entertainers.

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