From designing posters to acting: Why Malayalam actor Aneesh Gopal is making heads turn

Aneesh Gopal took a break from his acting career to establish himself designing posters

Actor Aneesh Gopal welcomes the recognition that has come his way after the release of Bhramam. “It has taken time, but now some more people know my name,” says Aneesh. “Usually, I am that ‘curly-haired guy’ from Theevandi. Every actor craves recognition. Isn’t it the pay-off that drives us all? This is the recognition I have craved for the past 12 years.”

Getting here has been hard. The first film he acted in was Second Show in 2012. A love for films brought him to Kochi from Malappuram. The director of the film, Srinath Rajendran, and writer, Vini Vishwa Lal, are his friends. “They knew that I acted in plays while in school and college, so they asked me to do a role in it.” They also asked him to design the film’s poster since he was a graphic designer.

“Cinema is my dream; it has always been. But I realised that it was a fickle industry in which there are no guarantees. You might or might not make it, so one needs a backup. I could not chase my dream without a career, as my family depended on me.”

The Second Show team liked the poster, and Aneesh found his career designing posters for films.

He put his acting dream on the backburner subsequently to concentrate on designing. “When I started, I would sit wherever I found a space and did the designing. Film sets have been my ‘office’. My company, Yellowtooths, now has a team of six people and an office in Kochi.” Over seven years, he built a career that boasts an impressive list of films — Joji, Nizhal, #Home, Operation Jawa, Kurup, Iyobinte Pusthakam, Halal Love Story, Kalki, Theevandi, Godha, 5 Sundarikal, Ennu Ninte Moideen, and Vijaysuperum Pournamiyum, among others.

With his business on track, he had the time to chase his dream and he landed a his role in Theevandi (2018), for which he designed the poster. He made an impression as one of Tovino’s friends, Saffer. The 37-year-old says, “I had to act like a school kid, it was a lot of hard work especially losing weight to look like a high school student!”

‘Kurup’ poster

After Theevandi came a slew of films such as Kalki, Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu, Adi Idi Vedi, Jeem Boom Bhaa and Nizhal. “I accepted all the films that came my way, as if to make up for lost time. I was not being especially selective. My friends from the industry told me to pick and choose my films rather than be indiscriminate.”

After Theevandi, it was his work in Bhramam that has got him attention.

“This film has so many big names… there is Prithviraj and it is directed by Ravi K Chandran. Then there is Jagadish sir, whose films I have grown up watching!”

Working with actors who had years of experience was unnerving, says Aneesh. “I was extremely intimidated, about acting with Rajuettan (Prithviraj), with whom I had a chunk of scenes. Not only is he a great actor, but also a brilliant technician. He put all of us at ease. If we got stuck, he would show us how to go about a scene; that way we had to do very few retakes.”

#Home poster

The years have made him more confident. If he was extremely nervous on the sets of Second Show, he has now devised a method of dealing with it. “I have the character’s back story, one that I tell myself and act accordingly. Getting the nuances of a character then is easy for me.”

The offers have not started pouring in yet, but the length of roles that he had committed to has increased. Among the major films in his kitty are Karnan Napoleon Bhagat Singh, Eeyal, and Thattasserry Koottam.

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