Sidhartha Siva’s Ennivar (The Following Persons) has dropped on OTT to rave reviews, with the performances getting special mention. Shining alongside some seasoned actors in this political thriller is composer and actor Sooraj S Kurup.
The film, set against the murky side of campus politics, follows four members of a political party who are forced to take refuge in a house after they are charged with murder. Unknown to them is the fact that they are mere pawns at the hands of bigwigs in the political party.
Sooraj’s character Kunjippan, one among the four, is a hardcore party loyalist. He gets sucked into the plot after he was chosen to avenge an attack on a college student from his party, Ananthu (an impressive Sarjano Khalid), who is also on the run with him.
Sooraj mentions that even though he has acted in plays while in college acting took a backseat once music became his forte. However, opportunities came in and he debuted as an actor in Sidhartha Siva’s Sakhavu (2017). After that, he did small roles in Luca (2019), Kungfu Master (2020) and Mahaveeryar (2022).
Role of substance
“This is the first full-length role of my career. Although I have been getting offers, none of them was exciting. I was waiting for a solid role and that’s when Ennivar happened. Sidharthettan [director Sidhartha Siva] was confident that I could pull it off,” says Sooraj.
The film travelled the film festival circuit, including the International Film Festival of Kerala 2021, where it got tremendous appreciation. It also won two Kerala State Film Awards — for the best director and best character actor for Sudheesh, who plays Krishnadas, whom Kunjippan considers his mentor. “Sidharthettan had pitched the film to several OTT platforms but to no avail. He is someone who shies away from promoting his work. But he knew that Ennivar is special for all of us associated with it and he wanted to take it to the audience,” says Sooraj.
Through conversations between the actors, the director unravels the journey of each character, without going for any flashbacks. “All of us would sit together and discuss the dialogues. Once a consensus was reached, we would rehearse a couple of times and then go for the take. Sidharthettan gave us the freedom to express ourselves, be it in voice modulation or the activities we did. In spite of having no female actors, their presence is felt through the conversations. Kunjippan and Ananthu reveal their vulnerabilities when they talk about the women in their lives,” he explains. Having seasoned actors such as Sudheesh, Jeo Baby and Binu Pappu in the cast made the experience memorable for Sooraj.
He has seen campus politics from close quarters having studied at CMS College, Kottayam, where political clashes are not unknown. “Many people can relate to the situations in Ennivar. But those who are totally cut off from such a campus life might find it a work of fiction,” he stresses.
It has been a breakout character for Sarjano as well, adds Sooraj. “He is so passionate about acting that he kept asking if his shots were okay. He has matured as an actor and it was this performance that gave him the lead role in [Ranjit Shankar’s] 4 Years. Many people have messaged me about that a scene where our characters open up about our families. We shot that scene in the wee hours in freezing temperatures,” Sooraj says.
An isolated house amidst a remote 350-acre gooseberry plantation at Veettikunnu in Attappady was the main location of the movie..
Being the composer
Sooraj has also scored the music and background score for the movie. “I love to be attached to the film I am working on. In Ennivar, I could go into different layers of the narrative because I was acting in it. If I was only the music director of the movie, I would not have gone to the location. The experiences in that house, the mood, the terrain, the journey, the emotions etc helped me immensely while working on the background score. Besides, the director gave me a free rein,” he adds.
Sooraj’s breakthrough project as a composer was Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti (2016), in which he wrote the lyrics as well. He later composed for Luca, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho, Alamara, one segment of the anthology, Solo, Kilometers and Kilometers, The Great Indian Kitchen and Nizhal. “After a small break I am getting back to composing. Coming up is my first project in Telugu,” he signs off.
Ennivar is streaming on Saina Play.
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