Son of veteran actor Kuthiravattam Pappu, Binu Pappu talks about the success of Malayalam film ‘Operation Java’ and his journey
Operation Java is trending, and so is Binu Pappu, who played assistant sub-inspector, Joy Pulimoottil, in the crime thriller inspired by true incidents from the case diaries of the Kerala Police’s cyber cell.
“Each person associated with the movie is ecstatic about the success. I am replying to as much messages as I can!” says an elated Binu, over phone from Bengaluru. Son of veteran actor Kuthiravattam Pappu, Binu has been around in the industry as an actor and associate director since 2014. But the appreciation is all new for him.
“The team was sure that people would like it. But this kind of reception was unexpected. It was among the first few films that reached theatres in February when the restrictions were lifted. It was the only film to complete 75 days in theatres. When it released on OTT and had its television première, the response was overwhelming. We all were like, ‘Did we actually do it?’” laughs Binu. Congratulatory messages keep coming from leading directors and actors from the industry. A Hindi remake has been confirmed.
He gives credit to the vision and craft of the film’s director, Tharun Moorthy, a debutant. “A team is as good as the captain and he is the best example. He was clear about every aspect of the film.”
A character with layers
Binu was not keen to act in Operation Java because he had done many cop roles by then. “In fact, I was acting as a gunman in Mammootty’s One when the role was offered. The first thing Tharun said was, ‘You don’t have to wear the uniform’. I told him the issue was not with wearing khaki. Rather, I was looking at a solid role. However, when I heard the story and realised that the character had many layers, I was on board. It had a wonderful cast and we became buddies in no time,” he says. The ensemble cast comprised Lukman Avaran, Balu Varghese, Irshad, Prasanth Alexander, Shine Tom Chacko, Vinayakan, Dhanya Ananya…
The 38-year-old admits that friends and well-wishers are asking him to be choosy henceforth. “I don’t look at acting that way. Except for characters in Rani Padmini, Sakhavu and Operation Java, I haven’t done many full-length roles. But I look at each role as a learning experience and, in some cases, it was all about being part of a good team. Be it Lucifer, Helen or Virus. In Lucifer, for example, I was seen in just a few scenes, but I could act with Mohanlal. The person directing me was Prithviraj, a fine actor and son of Sukumaran chettan (actor Sukumaran), who was like a brother to my father. As for Virus in which I played a doctor, who would have missed a chance to act with such a fabulous team of actors and technicians?”
Binu had no plans to become an actor when his father was active in Malayalam cinema. He entered movies 13 years after his father had passed away. “Although I acted in plays as a student, I never had that passion for cinema. Probably because achan was not at home most of the times. I used to miss my father a lot. He was such a busy actor that we rarely got to see him. There used to be no communication from him for days on end because times were different then with no mobile phones or quick means of transport. So I was not keen about following in his path,” he says.
So he moved to Bengaluru, learnt 3D animation and, eventually, got a job. “I loved cartoons and animation films and I could draw. I accompanied a friend who wanted to learn the course and eventually ended up joining there,” he laughs.
He debuted as an actor in Gunda (2014) which had newcomers, most of them sons of Malayalam actors. Even though he kept getting roles and opportunities to assist, Binu did not leave his job. “Opportunities came to me and not the other way round. I thought that working behind the camera would help in my job, especially in directing projects. However, gradually I fell in love with cinema and by the time I finished working in Mayaanadhi [as associate director] I decided to quit my job,” he adds.
An assistant director in Guppy and was associate director in Virus, Ambili, Halal Love Story and One, he considers Malayalam cinema as the “best school” to understand cinema. “We have such legendary actors and you learn something different from each of them. I consider myself lucky to have worked with the best, be it actors, directors, technicians or musicians,” he says.
Looking for variety in roles
His forthcoming releases are Ashraf Hamza’s Bheemante Vazhi, written by Chemban Vinod Jose with Kunchacko Boban in the lead, Rosshan Andrrews’ Dulquer Salman-starrer Salute and Sidhartha Siva’s Ennivar. “I am definitely looking at variety on the platter. There have been roles that went unnoticed, like the taxi driver character in Jayaraj’s Roudram 2018. Earlier, I used to feel embarrassed when people made fun of me for doing only cop roles. That’s when a friend told me that I should feel happy that my name comes up for such roles even though there are many other actors around.”
Binu says he is all game for comedy, which was his father’s forte. “I know I can pull it off, but I am scared of being compared to him. However, I must say that my favourite comedian is Jagathy Sreekumar. I loved their combo, especially in movies such as Poochakkoru Mookuthi, Dhim Tharikida Thom, Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu, Dr Pashupathi…. Their styles were different but they made a terrific pair on screen,” he says.
He plans to turn director and is working on a script written by Jithin Muhammed, son of veteran theatreperson KT Muhammed. “It will be for the theatre and not OTT. Nothing can beat a theatre experience; I want my first film to be released on a big canvas,” he stresses.
Meanwhile he is also excited about the sequel to Operation Java. “When he added ‘To be continued’ in the end credits, Tharun was not sure about having a second part. But now he has decided to work on it,” Binu signs off.
(Operation Java is streaming on Zee5)