If there is one actor whose work screams, ‘try me!’ it is Suraj Venjaramoodu. His versatility may have become apparent to his own industry only recently, but he bagged the National Award for Best Actor way back in 2013, for his work in Perariyathavar. He has since then revealed one too many shades of depth, villainy, reticence and more on screen. All the while remaining a masterclass in comedy. Here’s a list of some of his best in serious and comedic roles.
Dayanandan (VarnyathilAshanka): He is introduced as a painfully browbeaten husband. Having recently lost his job as a bar waiter, the family is sustaining on his wife’s meagre salary. But at a crucial, unexpected point of the film, Dayanandan displays a deviousness that catches us completely off guard. And that’s where Suraj scores—slowly peeling off his redundancy to become the man of the moment. Watch out for the hilarious drinking gig before he finds himself in the middle of the pandemonium. One of the rare instances where the blend of his comedy and histrionics is pitch-perfect.
Prasad (Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum): After finding himself on the wrong foot with Sreeja, Prasad is wary of meeting her. But Sreeja being Sreeja, takes it upon herself to give him a piece of her mind. It eventually draws them to each other. In the early segments of the film, the love story between Sreeja and Prasad has an old-world charm. Even in the middle of their slow and steady romance, we know they are holding back. Suraj Venjaramood charms the socks out of you in this role of an awkward lover, the way he steals glances at her or the anxiety about her love that’s writ over his face, despite being married to her.
Nelson (Karinkunnam 6’s): At first, we are led to think Nelson doesn’t have a single sympathetic bone in his body. He is a typical cop who has hardened himself in the company of criminals. The look he directs at Manju Warrier is that of barely concealed contempt—that sexist jerk you wouldn’t want to cross paths with. Suraj unashamedly allows us to despise him—and for an audience used to watching him make a perfect fool of himself, this volte-face is a brilliant transformation.
Pavithran (Action Hero Biju): Pavithran walks with some effort; he seems dog-tired. His eyes betray sadness—a man who has long learnt to live without happiness. Suraj brings this all in his demeanour. At her confession that the child is not his, we don’t really need to as much as steal a glance at Pavithran to know that his world has come crashing down. The words that he speaks later just seems to echo the feelings of the audience. It was that organic.
Dashamoolam (Chattambinadu): He has two theories behind this unusual name—first being his habit of slugging two ounces of Dasamoolarishtam after every fight. But the second one is more outrageous—“I will slice a human body (Dasha*) and throw it in a corner (moola*).” Try translating that in Malayalam. Either way, he is a first-rate coward and a snooper.
Theevravadi (Three Kings): As a self-proclaimed ‘Theevravadi’, he is side-splittingly funny in the scene where he does an imitation of Prithviraj in Anwar. In a checked headscarf, with a grim gaze, he walks in slow-motion. On hearing Ann Augustine’s whisper whether he is a “theevravadi,” he deadpans— “Slow motion-il nadakkunnavarokke theevravadhikalano?” Then he attempts a jailbreak to solve the mystery of a treasure. Hilarious!
Broker Thomachan (Elsamma Enna Aankutty): Suraj brings his own little quirks to this ambitious broker who is hell-bent on marrying off every single girl in his village. He uses every crooked trick in the book to swindle potential customers. Check out the scene where he tries a terrific imitation of Sathyan to indirectly propose to a girl.
IdivettuSugunan (PokkiriRaja): The comical intro scene sets the tone for the supremely fainthearted cop Idivettu Sugunan. So cowardly that he goes on a sick leave when he is assigned a tough case. It doesn’t help that he is equally petrified of goondas and his dominating wife.
Music Composer Maharaja (Rock N’ Roll): A self-confessed AR Rahman fan, who also looks the part with long hair, PP Shiju aka Maharaja knows zilch about music direction. “Please don’t say that. I have never gone to Karnataka,” is his indifferent response to the question whether he has learnt Carnatic music. The scene where Mohanlal and co try hard to make him compose music and his reaction to it is a fantastic piece of comedy. Suraj aces it.
Rajaguru Maha Rishi Vashya Vajasu (Teja Bhai & Family): He is a fraudster sanyasi who unfortunately finds himself in the hands of a dreaded don—Teja Bhai. Being constantly under pressure to obey his orders, Rajaguru knows he has no way out. Suraj nails it in that one scene where after saving himself from one of the don’s many threats, he does a superb imitation of Mohanlal in Chithram and walks away in style, leaving the don open.
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