Vineeth Sreenivasan Is Like The MS Dhoni Of The Malayalam Industry: Team Hridayam

Actors Arun Kurian, Annu Antony, Kalesh Ramanand and Kaushik MV, talk about how life has changed post the release of Hridayam and how the cast and crew worked under their captain cool
Vineeth Sreenivasan Is Like The MS Dhoni Of The Malayalam Industry: Team Hridayam

Edited excerpts from an interview with the four standout performers of the film—Arun, Annu, Kaushik and Kalesh  

Vishal: Two of you (Arun and Annu) are people we know from Aanandam. How do you compare the phase after Aanandam released to the now, after Hridayam? 

Arun Kurian: We were all watching Hridayam together and I texted Kaushik and the other boys to remind them to just enjoy the moments following the screening. I remember how I left after Aanandam and I wanted them to really enjoy the feeling and just kill it. It was five years ago but the release of Aanandam was a surreal experience for me. Similarly, once the show ended last week I could see the flood of media people entering and the boys were quite flabbergasted. I was looking at their faces because every newcomer deserves to enjoy that feeling. 

Annu Antony: I came into Aanandam accidentally and I didn't act for five years after that. So the release of Hridayam felt completely new all over again with the same excitement. The only difference is that I watched the FDFS of Hridayam with my parents instead of the cast like I did in Aanandam.

Vishal: Kalesh, your character Selva has touched a lot of people and remains an integral part of Hridayam's success. How did it happen? 

Kalesh: Right from the beginning, I remember Vineethettan's confidence in asking me to do Selva. He wanted me to do it but he didn't want anyone to know that I'm a Malayali playing a Tamil character. He wanted people to see Selva as a Tamilian. That was the challenge for me. Now people are saying that we thought you were a Tamil actor and there are lots of Malayalis messaging me trying to write in Tamil like "Sir, neenga superaa paninge." Then I'm like bro, I'm Malayali only, we can speak in Malayalam.

Vishal: Kaushik, what about you? What was the process of you getting into the film? 

Kaushik: I have a friend, Arif, who was in the direction departmen. One day he calls me and he's like "macha, audition, you're coming". At the auditon, I had a scene with Arun and then I knew that this was a big film. In about five minutes, there were some discussions going on in the back and Vineeth sir walks up to me and he's like "we'll keep you, how are you placed the next few months?" And I'm like, "you tell me now, I'll come off, sir." 

Vishal: We know Vineeth from his interviews but how is he on set? Is he chill or does he go crazy once in a while?

Annu: From my personal experience, he is very calm. So many things could be happening in his head but he keeps the entire set cool. Whatever tension he has, he doesn't put it out. I think he makes a system around him where everyone feels comfortable and knows what to do. The way he distributes work is something everyone should learn. Another thing I've noticed about Vineethettan is how he pays full attention to even our smallest doubts. When an actor asks him something, though there are so many things happening around him, he stops his work and pays full attention to you. He explains and is fully involved in the conversation. That is one thing I really admire. 

Kalesh: He is like the MS Dhoni of the Malayalam industry. So many things are happening in his head but he is very calm. 

Arun Kurian: He knows the cut points and edit points and he is very fast. We finished Hridayam 10 days before schedule. We were shooting on his campus, where he did his four years of engineering, and that added up to create a thorough image of the film in his head. Eventually, this helps the actors also and we were all chill. 

Vishal: Kalesh, compared to last Wednesday or Thursday, how much has life changed in the last one week?

Kalesh: Life has completely turned upside down. Earlier, I was only Kalesh, the struggling actor, for the people who know me. But I am now 'Selva' for everyone. Whether people know me or not, everyone is calling me Selva. To be known by the character you played is a blessing for an actor. 

Vineethettan had said to me, "If the film works, then Selva will work and you, as an actor, will work". I have done other films before this where I have done smaller roles. People have told me that 'we saw you in that, it was nice. But the film didn't work for me'.  In the larger sense, only if the film works, will it work for me. 

Vishal: Kaushik, so many people teared up for the scene in which you take the tiffin box and run to the train. How has your life changed and what was your family's response?

Kaushik: First of all, my mom is extremely happy and proud and I could see it in her eyes. Now she is managing everything I say or do—"don't say this, don't wear this, be a little aware of what you are saying". I have a very loud mouth and I keep saying whatever I want to. So a lot of awareness and a sense of being popular has come. I don't know how long this feeling will stay but it feels nice. 

Also about Vineethettan being cool on the sets…he does get angry but the anger is internal. For this particular scene, I was conscious and he was telling me how to go about the scene. He was narrating the scene and suddenly there was a bunch of people who were clicking photos and I don't think anybody in the crew noticed. He did and he just ran to those boys, quickly got their phones and deleted the photos and he was like 'don't post it'. That presence of mind to take care of such small things, says a lot about him.

Vishal: Annu, what was your favourite scene and what is that scene you could relate to your college life?

Annu: I don't have a favourite scene as such but my favourite part is Selva's. The entire Selva gang—Selva, Kaali, Lachupaatti—worked very well for me. I did my Masters in Pondicherry University, so I have seen paattis like her and I have friends like Selva. That part was most touching. 

Kaushik: Would it be cliche if I said I don't have one particular scene? It's impossible for me to pick one. Like I said, the film has changed my life. 

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