Originally appeared in the Filmotsav ’86 Festival News Bulletin dated 17th January 1986. Bharat Gopy’s two films, Chidambaram and Aghaat were a part of the Indian Panorama. As spoken to the News Bulletin Editor Jugu Abraham.
“I am a devotee of acting, but I am not selling art for a living. I have a rare gift that is sacred to me,” asserts Gopy, the Malayalee actor who came from theatre into cinema.” I have small resources to make my living. Therefore, there are more offers that I have rejected than offers that I have accepted.”
An ex-employee of the Kerala State Electricity Board, who is now living on his pension and wife’s salary is one of the few actors in India who have acted in languages other than his mother-tongue and won laurels abroad for both. Gopy was recently conferred the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo Film Festival.” Cinema in its pure form is not yet born,” says the balding thespian who was first introduced to cinema by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in Swayamavaram , and subsequently acted in the same director’s Kodiyettam. Among his many other acclaimed films are Mani Kaul’s Sata Se Uttha Admi ( Hindi) and Govind Nihalani’s Aghat (Hindi). At Filmostsav’86 two of his latest performances are on show – Aghaat and Aravindan’s Chidambaram.
“For an actor, it is better to work with a person who can think in the same wavelength. Art cannot be equated to an industry,” he says of his work with Mani Kaul and Govind Nihalani. Of Mani Kaul’s film, he says, his lines in Hindi were delivered by Om Puri, while in Aghaat Gopy himself struggled with the Hindi lines.
Why does this thespian make such statements as cinema in its pure form not being born? The reasons are many. He is a theatre personality and believes that most acting is still theatrical in India.He was brought into the world of theatre by G Shankara Pillai and graduated to work with Kavalam Narayan Pannikar’s Thiruvarang. He is therefore entrenched in the best of Malayalam theatre.
But then Gopy does not view cinema through the proscenium arch of the theatre. He is a film-maker too. His first film Njattadi (1979) is lying censored in the cans with scratches on its positives.Gopy claims his was the first Malayalam film to be completely made in Kerala.Now in June, Gopy is going to direct his second film with a ‘reliable producer.’ Shaji is going to be the cinematographer.
“For the next few months I will be concentrating on my second directorial effort.It is a pity that my first film is still in the cans.The best films of anyone are their first films. But now, I may have to reconcile myself to this second effort,” adds Gopy.
But does he have a mentor? ” No, I have no mentor. I was introduced to cinema by Adoor Gopalakrishnan.” Is he in the profession for money, especially when it comes to doing Hindi films? ” Not at all,” replies Gopy, ” any language is like Malayalam. I was rather fascinated by the way Govind Nihalani works, and I will work with anybody like him.”