Shane Nigam is one of the most promising young actors from Malayalam cinema. The actor has been going through a rough phase in his career following untoward allegations of on-set behaviour and antics. However, his latest release RDX (2023), which is having a successful run at the box office, seems to be his much-needed breakthrough.
The film tells the story of three brothers, who are forced to take things into their own hands when a minor feud from the past threatens to destroy their lives. RDX was the underdog in Onam Race but has comfortably become the season winner with its action-centric storytelling that is unwavering in its emotional core.
Shane is mostly known for playing intense roles, often as a lonely protagonist (Hello Bhoothakaalam (2022), Kumbalangi Nights (2019)). So at first, his choice to turn into an action hero with RDX might come off as a rash gamble. However, the actor asserts that it is because he has started selecting scripts differently. He says, “Earlier I used to focus more on the “why” aspect of filmmaking, as in why I should tell this particular story in this particular way. But now I think more about the different experiences I can offer the audience.``
While he is known for his method acting-like obsession with the headspace of his characters, his lonely and isolated roles also earned him the moniker “Depression Star”. The actor says, “I felt really bad when people used that tag for me because of my characters and the general mood of my films. It made me think of the sleepless nights and mental strain I went through to play such characters. At the end of the day, all I was left with was this tag from the audience’s perspective.”
Such experiences are also what pushed Shane to rethink his acting choices. While he did get critical acclaim, he wanted to be part of an experience where the movie entertained people. “My previous roles made me detached as a person from my surroundings. I would not go out and meet people and just spend time with myself. It works for those kinds of films but as far as the audiences are concerned, cinema is primarily a means of entertainment. So whatever great reviews or great acclaim you get, this kind of immediate love from the audience cannot be replaced. That's more important for me now and I think that's what people want at the end of the day.”
Another factor that he weighs in before choosing a script nowadays is whether the film makes for a theatrical watch or if it’s something one can catch on OTT. “People decide if they have to watch a film solely based on trailers these days. So it's a blessing for me to do such a big-budget, large-scale action film that has all the elements of a crowd-pleaser. I also consider whether it’s good to watch in a theatre or on streaming. Nowadays I listen to scripts keeping these things in mind. I believe that the story should be unique in some way. If you simply show off some fight sequences, it won't work for our audiences. They need everything to be backed by reason and emotional support. That's why I feel so happy about RDX as all of these elements have come together in this film.”