INTERVIEW: Arun A. Kumar of Olympian Anthony Adam Fame on His Love for Cinema and Travel
Malayalees would definitely be familiar with the movie Olympian Anthony Adam. The movie starring superstar Mohanlal was a blockbuster hit. The movie also gave Malayalam cinema a little superstar who was noticed for his convincing performance. The arrogant little schoolboy was liked and accepted by the audience at large. Along with his incredible acting skills, the child actor – Arun A. Kumar – had also displayed his brilliant skating skills in the movie. Little Arun went on to become a favourite child artist and also delivered many good roles in movies like ‘Speed’ and’ Meeshamadhavan’. From his first movie in 1999 to the latest ‘Muthugauv’, in which he acts with Suresh Gopi’s son Gokul Suresh, Arun speaks of his 18-year-old journey in the Malayalam film industry and his craze for travelling that persuaded him to ride to the highest motorable road in the world.
Your entry into the Malayalam film industry itself was with a superstar. Do you consider it as a big break for your career?
Yes, of course it was. I was only six when I got the offer for Olympian Anthony Adam. I have been learning roller skating since childhood. The director of the movie had seen a programme of mine that was telecast on Asianet where I was performing skating limbo and that is how he approached me for the movie. He wanted a child actor, who he had decided would have an eccentric character, for the movie and thought my skating skills could be used for that. But it took him three years to call me back. And so Olympian happened. I was too small to recognise the opportunity I received, but now I realise that whatever good has happened to me in terms of cinema is because of that wonderful role.
Do you feel that you are yet to get that kind of a break as a hero as well?
I have been working in movies since then and the roles I have played have gained me lot of recognition also. So I think that it is a process and bagging a hero’s role in one big movie won’t make you an actor who is accepted by the audience. If the actor delivers not-so-good roles, after that he is sure to get kicked out. Even though I am taking baby steps, I am very careful in taking up roles. It is very easy to build fame, but what is difficult is to manage it.
You have tried out comedy with ‘Muthugauv’, different from the kinds of roles you have played it date. You might have had some expectations as you had taken up a role after a gap of two years. But the movie didn’t do well in the box office. What could be the reason?
That was really unfortunate because it was teamwork and a lot of effort was put together by each one of us. I had also taken up the role because I felt it was different from the ones I have done so far and that it would give me a chance to experiment. But the movie didn’t do that well. We have to accept everything with a pinch of salt. However, it was a great experience working with all the senior artistes under the banner of Friday Film House. I consider it as a good beginning for all of us and I’m confident that the movie will be a stepping stone in our career.
The Malayalam film industry has changed and many movies that break the conventional style of cinema are being made, which are liked and applauded by audiences. What do you think is the main reason for this change?
Around five years ago, there was a time when satellite rights were the major factor that decided the fate of a movie. Nobody was interested in knowing whether the public likes the movie or not. Buying the satellite rights even before the release of the movie ensured that the producer would get the money he had spend on the movie. If a superstar was associated to it, the profits would double as the rights were sold for huge amounts. However, time has changed and with satellite rights being pushed out of the scene as the public has proved that quality movies will only work, good movies have started coming. New directors who have good subjects with them have therefore come up and are bringing out movies irrespective of the fact that there are probably no acclaimed senior actors in the movie. This in turn reduces the cost also.
Do you feel that the directors nowadays are taking chances to cast new faces?
Yes, of course, because what matters is that they should have talent. Superstars will always continue to be the same and no one can replace them in what they are doing. The public is now open to trying all kinds of movies and subjects, provided it holds them back to their chairs.
Are these movies you are talking about “new generation” ones?
No, not at all. There is nothing called new generation or old generation in movies. It all depends on the story and the way everything has been put together. Also, we say new generation movies are these movies becoming hits just because people from this generation are watching them. No. A movie can only be called a box office success if it is being watched by families. Therefore, this coinage is completely wrong.
You are back from a road trip from Manali to Leh with your friend. Could you share the experience?
Yes, actually I am speechless and can’t explain the feeling in words that I got while travelling through the purest and most serene environment where nature is in full swing. One of my friends and I were planning for such a trip for some time now and as my friend told that he was free to come, I made the arrangements. I rented two bikes from a rental shop in Delhi with the help of my friend there and started my journey.
What is the most beautiful sight or experience of the trip that still lingers in your mind?
The entire route was so mindblowing that it is practically impossible to pinpoint a certain location or incident. Especially, the road from Manali to Ladakh is awesome and was a thrilling ride. Passing through Khardungla top, the highest motorable, path is altogether a different experience in itself and I would like to motivate every person interested in travelling and exploring places to visit these places.
Your Instagram account is loaded with pictures of the different places you visited. It seems you have captured the essence of places you have travelled?
Of course, I did. But I think that all these beautiful creations can never be captured on camera. I think some of them have been clicked by my eyes and the images have been stored in my mind forever as some of the most beautiful times I spend in serenity.
Your comments surely explain that you are an avid traveller. Is it because of the film industry that travel has become a part of your life?
I don’t think that is the exact reason. I love travelling and often try to go on trips with my friends. Travelling for movies has drastically reduced because there was a time when the locations for majority of the movies were in Palghat, Coimbatore and Pollachi. But now the trend and stereotypes have changed. The traditional Kerala houses and paddy fields and countryside were essentials of a bygone era in Malayalam cinema. Movies are now being shot in places like Kochi and Trivandrum also. And therefore travelling for movies have reduced unless it is for a specific location.
What are your future plans in terms of movies?
I have completed the shooting for a movie called ‘Biriyani Kissa’. The topic enthused me and that is the reason I took it up. I have also worked in a non-commercial movie. I am in talks with different directors for other projects as well, but nothing has been decided as of now.
Arun says that he loves acting and that is why he chose to stick on to it. However, he says confidently that the role matters to him irrespective of the budget of the movie and what he is concerned about is that the role should get registered.