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  Entertainment   In Other News  11 Nov 2018  The slang factor

The slang factor

Published : Nov 11, 2018, 12:08 am IST
Updated : Nov 11, 2018, 12:08 am IST

South Indian actor Martin Jishil has made a foray into Bollywood with Saif Ali Khan starrer Baazaar.

Martin with Rohan Mehra and Radhika Apte
 Martin with Rohan Mehra and Radhika Apte

How many South Indian male actors do we know who have been part of Bollywood films and, mind you, successful ones? Very few would be the answer, though it is not for lack of trying. The reasons attributed are plenty. It could be the marked South Indian looks which do not work in Bollywood films or it could also be the language – read heavily accented Hindi – that acts as a deterrent. Martin Jishil from Kochi has made it to the list of those Malayali actors who have made a foray into Bollywood with the recently released Saif Ali Khan-starrer Baazaar, and it was his slang that helped him get the opportunity.

A National School of Drama (NSD) pass-out, Martin’s visit to Mumbai for a one-week teaching assignment in a premium acting school paved the way for his big break. He explains the rest of the story, “One of my seniors informed me about the role of a South Indian character in the film and I decided to give it a try. I went for an audition where I had to speak a couple of Hindi dialogues and within no time, I was selected for the role.” The suddenness of it all did leave Martin perplexed, but he soon got the explanation. “I was told that my South Indian slang — an important facet — was perfect for the character.” That was followed by reading sessions and he was handed over the full script. It was during the reading sessions that he bonded with co-stars Radhike Apte, Vijay and Rohan Mehra (Vinod Mehra’s son). The film is about four friends and Martin played one of them. The reading classes helped break the ice and get him settled in fine.

The actual shoot of the film gave Martin a lot more experiences — all good. “I entered this film as a rank newcomer with no experience. The language was alien and my co-stars were seasoned, so I was understandably nervous. But at the very first reading, director Gauravv K. Chawla sat on the floor and explained the scenes, which was an ice-breaker,” he says.

“From then on, every scene was discussed with the actors ensuring that every actor was given value. Gauravv was clear about what he wanted, too.” he adds. About his co-stars, he says, “Though I did not have too many combination scenes with Saif, I can say that he is a professional.  Radhika, too, was very cooperative and gave me advice.” The language barrier provided some light moments. “I was not sure about my Hindi grammar, especially the ‘ki’s’ and ‘ka’s’, and mind you, it was sync sound; but my mistakes were all patiently dealt with,” he recalls.

For every successful foray into Bollywood, there are a number of hurdles that every newcomer has to face. Martin sheds light on them. “There is an area called Aram Nagar in Mumbai which is choc-o-block with audition offices. Every aspiring actor begins his day early in the morning, armed with a bag filled with clothes, and moves from one audition office to the other. There are a few lucky hits and a lot many rejections, but these auditions ensure that every newcomer gets a fair opportunity. This kind of an audition culture is missing in Kerala, I feel,” he opines.

Baazaar proved to be a good luck charm opening up doors for him in Bollywod. “I have received a couple of offers from Bollywood,” he reveals. Martin’s next words also help bust a myth that South Indian actors have to work double hard to make a mark for themselves in Hindi. “Yes, the language barrier is a reason why many actors from the South hesitate to try their luck in Bollywood; but by the same yardstick the relatively low number of South Indians ensures that for any film that requires a South Indian actor, I get called on a priority level. That, I feel, is a benefit!” That does not mean that Martin is neglecting his chances in his home state. He reveals that he is busy with casting and acting training classes in Kerala. He has also groomed a number of newcomers. So, here is the obvious question. Why has he not tried his luck in Mollywood? “Oh, I have”, he affirms. “I am part of the upcoming film Rameshan Oru Peralla. I also have some other offers. ”

Martin’s interest in arts can be called an inherited faculty. His father was a circus artiste who worked with some of the best circuses in India. Martin’s love for acting found early expression in his church theatre group, where he participated in skits and then followed that up with dramas in his school. It was his stint at the NSD, where he did his BA in drama, that changed his perception to art and gave him the much-needed focus. Here, Martin began to study about theatre. The knowledge gained from books at NSD gave him theories and practices that opened up his mind, and thus his world. “I never intended for acting to be my profession; I only knew that I derived great pleasure from acting in theatre. I had a regular job, but my heart was not in it. Theatre and acting were always uppermost on my mind and my stint at NSD made me realise that an actor was what I was destined to be.” Not content with only theatre, Martin enrolled in Attakkalari in Bengaluru, a centre for movement arts, where he learnt contemporary dance also.

Currently, Martin has a number of Bollywood offers including Crispy Rishta, of which he has finished shooting.     

Tags: south indian film, baazaar, saif ali khan