June 7, 2023

‘My handwriting got me my first film’: Unni Mukundan

Like Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist, ‘When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.’ For a Malayali from Ahmedabad, who struggled a lot to get a foothold in the industry, being accepted as an actor was like a dream come true.

His smile is his logo. His eyes sparkle when he flashes his charming dimpled smile. Bubbling with life, Unni Mukundan can go on and on about anything you ask him. Talking to him is like being in an outburst of pure positive dynamism.

 Unni is one of those fewest actors who stand as the initiators of actors focussing on their physique. Efforts well paid, he is today known as the Macho Man of Malayalam cinema.

“My decisions have been my driving force”, he says. Be it the realistic Shahjahan in Bombay March 12 or a stammering Surya in Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty or the two different impressive avatar he dons in Mallu Singh or the ambitious Vikraman in Vikramadithyan, Unni has made a place for himself on the marquee within a very short span with his versatile acts.

Hosannas received for his performance in Mallu Singh are still going on strong. His latest film, Vikramadithyan is another feather on the cap. With many film commitments in hand, Unni has turned out to be in the list of most wanted actors in M-town. Now he has his plate full with Deepu Karunagaran’s Fireman and a LJ film directed by Moshin. Fireman is about a rescue operation and the risks taken by a firefighter to complete the mission. In Fireman, Unni will share the screen with Mammootty for the third time after Bombay March 12 and Rajadhiraja.

1.      You’re the one and only actor in Malayalam cinema with the Magical Dimples!

(Laughs) I’m flattered.  To be frank, I don’t like them much. I believe dimples look good on a girl, when she smiles.  It’s in the genetics. Thanks to which I have one, makes me look good may be. But I don’t consider it to be lucky. When people compliment me for my looks, I feel good about it and it makes my day.

2.      Unni Mukundan in short …

I’m a very straight forward guy. I have very optimistic views about everything in life and I always try to be positive. Well that’s me in short!

3.      Your first LJ film

Vikramadithyan would be special to me as I could reinvent myself as an actor. From the time I came into cinema, I have always wanted to work with Lal Jose. LJ is very emotional and lovable as a person. Someone who is very perfect in everything he does and manages to the get best out of everything. He gets along with everyone around and treats everyone equally. He is a person with whom I have shared everything, there’s no age difference when we talk. I’m happy that we both delivered a hit together and it feels great! waiting for a sequel of Vikramadithyan.

4.      Lacking a filmy background how has your journey been so far from Seedan to Vikramadithyan …

Cinema was new to me. My journey wasn’t that easy. I have had my fair share of struggle too.  Like a toddler who falls, learns to stands up, walk and then run, even I have somehow managed to crack it. If you are from a filmy background, you get things on a platter. I have earned it…. But once you come onscreen, each and every person is equal.

Acting was never in my mind, I wanted to become a director. But destiny made me an actor. When I was in Ahmedabad, I sent a handwritten letter to Lohithadas sir, expressing my interest in filmmaking. It was my handwriting that impressed him and got me my first film. I was offered Seedan (Tamil remake of Nandanam). In Malayalam, my debut was through Bangkok Summer as a villain, but Bombay March 12 with Mammootty released first. It was critically acclaimed and it was through Mallu Singh that I got noticed. Then I gradually chose my kind of films. I have learnt from each success and failure. Without failure there is no sweetness in success! After Mallu Singh and Vikramadithyan, expectations have gone high. I’m trying to better myself with whatever I do.

5.      Your first Bombay March 12 and your last Rajadhiraja was with Mammootty. What have you learnt from him?

I’m still learning. At the age of 18 years I started working. I’m a person who gets bored easily in life. Worked as a receptionist, freelancer, in BPO etc and finally landed in cinema. I keep wondering how can someone ever be like Mammooka. He’s such a great person.  One thing which I would like to learn from him is how he keeps his passion alive, and manages both his family and profession very well at the same time.

6.      Any words of advice from Mammootty …

Nothing as such but he’s been very supportive. Directly and indirectly he has supported me lot in cinema.

7.      How have your parents reacted to your success?

My family was not used to cinema, but they have been quite supportive now. Today, they are proud to see their son achieve things all by himself. Like all parents even they were worried about how secure my life would be if I get into cinema. But then my father said, ‘if you are confident enough, then go for it!’ They get worried when they read about me in the gossip columns. I tell them to ignore it. I try to keep their privacy intact.

8.      In your Facebook page you say ‘If cinema was a religion, Hrithik would have been my God’…

I was awestruck when I saw him for the first time. I’m a diehard Hrithik Roshan fan. I saw Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai when I was in the 8th standard and from then Hrithik has been like a super hero figure to me. I have read about his injuries and being a true fighter, the way he has fought back is really commendable. His look in Bang Bang is just incredible…

Fitness has brought discipline in my life. At a very young age I had started giving importance to fitness. It helped me fight bad health, made me more confident and the introvert character of mine just disappeared forever. To me exercising and being fit is as natural as waking up and brushing my teeth every morning. Fitness should not be a ritual but a religion.  One must follow it madly….  I have heard of many people who die at a very young age due to unhealthy lifestyle. I have tried to motivate people in a very little way with my fitness video. A good body is the gift of god. If you take good care of your body, it keeps you moving!

9.      Moustache, beard or clean shave – which look do you like the most?

Uhh … I think I looked way better before I started my career as an actor. As per the character my looks change. I have had so many looks now that I have forgotten how I looked before!

10.  Eyeing on Bollywood …

It’s definitely on the cards. If a good script and character comes my way, would certainly do it.

11.  One moment that changed your life forever, where you knew things would never be the same?

When I saw myself onscreen for the first time and Mallu Singh changed my life.

12.  Has any of the characters you have done so far, changed you as a person?

Not yet. I have grown with each character I have done. Books and life experiences in life have changed me as a person. And my best friend says that I have changed for the good.

13.   Your past and current films are action and romantic ones. Is there any other genre you would like to work in? 
I am hungry to do different kind of roles (quips). Would love to experiment with every genre.

14.   Your message to the world!

Stay focussed towards your goal in life. Spread your contagious smile and this world will be happier place to live in.

Amala Muralidharan


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