An Actor With A Philosophy
VG Muralikrishnan may not turn heads yet, but Cris Seetha finds out the multi-faceted actor is a different man.
On Jun 07, 2010


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Mere mention of his father’s name would give him a place in Malayalam film industry. Cinema runs in his blood, acting ingrained in his DNA. Any other person in his place would have cashed in on his privileges by default.

But VG Muralikrishnan is a loner. Son of legendary actor Bharat Gopy, Muralikrishnan has seen the best and the worst of film industry.

Muralikrishnan, a journalist by profession, is a man with many talents. Author of an appreciated collection of short stories (Rasikan Sodanai), Muralikrishnan sings and paints (he calls it scribbling though). He writes both in English and Malayalam with characteristic poise.

A keen observer of people and life, Muralikrishnan has made an impression with his lengthy role in Blessy’s latest film Bhramaram. There are many offers to act, but he is not unduly excited.

Experiences of his late father—who suffered a stroke when he was at his acting peak—have taught him to approach cinema with a philosopher’s mind. “If it has to happen, it will,” he says.

He says it is not a deliberate attempt. His childhood memories are riddled with the frivolities of the tinsel world. “I’ve seen some pitfalls. My father was quite famous at one time and then I saw him fall ill. From the heights, he had taken a trip down to the depths. Just like a brush is important to a painter, body is important to an actor. Since my father was spiritually inclined he was able to withstand and overcome it.”

Muralikrishnan’s debut in cinema doesn’t give him any fond memories. Rasikan was a letdown for him as a script writer. The script, written as a spoof, was altered and the movie that was shot was not the one Muralikrishnan had in mind.
Directed by Lal Jose, one  of Muralikrishnan’s close friends in the industry, Rasikan doesn’t have the signature that he wanted to leave on the movie. But Muralikrishnan does not ruminate over what happened. “The final script was not exactly the one I had in mind. I should also be blamed. I should have walked out,” he says.

Muralikrishnan, who has worked with The Indian Express and The Hindu, went to Dubai to work with a sports magazine for two years, following the Rasikan letdown.

“Before Rasikan, there was another movie for which I had worked with Lal Jose. But that movie didn't take off. Rasikan was based on a character in that story.” However, Rasikan was Muralikrishnan’s debut as an actor. His cameo role as the villain, Kala Bhaskaran, was enough for good directors to find his talent as an actor.

But he doesn’t think so. “I am a reluctant actor. I have been getting offers because people expect me to be an actor like my dad. But I didn't take them, because I was not sure.” No matter what he thinks about it, his performance in Bhramaram has been much appreciated. But again the philosopher speaks: “You can't say it is proof of my talents. Yes, people did accept me, but you can't say anything with one movie.”

“I get the recognition because of the movie's popularity. People went to see that movie because Mohanlal starred in it, not because Muralikrishnan acted in it,” he says with a smile.

One wonders if he has ever felt the burden expectation of being Bharat Gopy’s son. “Well, that is a problem faced by the children of all famous people. But I am not bothered about it. As someone said, if you run with Carl Lewis, you will not be tense because you know you will never win. It is the same story here.” He chuckles.

Ask him about people who have inspired him, he’d say: “Achan and Bachchan.” His father, and the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. "The technique with which they faced the ups and downs of life is what inspires me immensely."

Muralikrishnan says Bharat Gopy the father was a special person. “He was not strict at all. After he suffered a stroke in 1986, he retired from movies for a long time. I see two stages in Dad's life: the one before stroke and the one after. Like BC and AD.”

Father of two children, Murali feels his father was a normal person who didn’t act in his real life. “One thing about him was that he never used to act in real life. Many actors are constantly performing in real life as well. It could be a habit developed over the years, but my father was not like that. The moment the director says cut he will be back to real life, very much himself.” An avid reader and movie watcher, Muralikrishnan remembers how he used to watch movies with his father. “Yes, we used to discuss about movies. I watched a lot of movies, even as a young child. I was five when my father got his first national award in 1978.”

Unique Concept

Muralikrishnan believes cinema is as good a concept as it is an aft form. “You won't get such a great span of attention for any other media. For example, you do a thousand things when you watch television. But when you go to see a movie, you are totally captured by it. The lights go out and the screen will glitter. That is a unique concept and a special art form. I am an avid watcher of movies.”

He feels Malayalam directors face manifold challenges like the censor board, and fund issues. “Take a movie like Anti Christ. Such themes come to the minds of Indians as well. But we can't make such movies in India because there are a lot of capital/market limitations. Another example is Avatar. Thematically it is not that brilliant. Such themes were handled before. But people like it because of the millions of dollars put into it for its grandeur. We work in very inferior conditions here. There are time when actors decide and directors have to obey. There was a time when films and screenplays had the priority. Now we create characters for superstars, and this is simply to get a project mounted on screen.”

Muralikrishnan finds Blessy as one of  his favourite directors in Malayalam. “He has offered me a lead role in his upcoming movie. I also like Lal Jose. We’re friends.”

A history buff, Muralikrishnan reads a lot, as is evident from the books lining the walls in his room. “William Dalrymple is my current favourite author. I've one through the Darlymple corpus.”

Muralikrishnan now works with MSN India (India Syndicate) as Entertainment Editor. “Media today faces a crisis. We are running out of celebrities. So we create them.  I guess it was Mark Twain who said that there would come a time when every man will get five minutes of international fame. I was asking the same question myself when you came for this interview. My father was a great actor, but that’s his might. Not mine.”

“Long back it was an achievement to be featured by media. Now, if you post 10 videos on YouTube, you are a celebrity. All that glitters is not gold, all that are visible are not celebrities, are not stars,” he says.

Muralikrishnan may still be not a crowd-puller, but surely the man has the mettle to make people sit up and take notice of his many talents, and philosophical discourse!

Cris Seetha

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He is immensely talented....Pls do more movies...
Anjali, on Mar 01, 2011 12:15:40 AM
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