It is not very common in the history of Kerala State Film Awards to see a supporting actor emerging from the shadows, outperform the heroes of the film and walk away with the best actor award.  This time, Vinayakan made it, and he deserved it more than anybody else. 


 Unlike earlier rumours, it was not Mohanlal (Oppam) against Vinayakan (Kammattippadam). But it was Manikandan, his co-actor in the Rajeev Ravi film, who gave Vinayakan a tough competition. Manikandan entered the last leg of the best actor award but ended up winning the best-supporting actor award. 


Interestingly, Dulquer Salmaan, the hero of Kammattippadam was nowhere in the picture. When the film was released, it was widely publicised as a Dulquer-starrer. Now everyone is talking about the Vinayakan-starrer. Although Vinayakan acted in over 40 films since his debut in 1994, he was destined to do one- among-the-gangsters roles. 


He had no regrets. He waited until Rajeev Ravi found ‘that unique rhythm in his movements’ apt for the role in Kammattippadam.


 “Who else would I choose? He (Vinayakan) grew up in the heart of Kammattippadam,” said Rajeev Ravi when he was asked about his choice of Vinayakan for the role of ‘Ganga’ in the film. 

Also read: Kammattipaadam: Welcome to Dalit Noir. And It is brilliant: Charu Nivedita writes. 

Was he a real gangster in the Kochi underworld?  This question often comes up in the private discussions on his films. Some even raised the question on online forums.  Perhaps, the very question was the first recognition Vinayakan received in his long career in which he did mostly ‘goonda’ roles. He essayed the roles to its perfection that people started to identify him as a real gangster.  


He was a fire-dancer who loved music and dance more than anything else. It was his fire-dancing talent that gave him the first chance in films. He appeared in a fleeting role in the film Mantrikam. After that, a slew of gangster roles came in his way, and it became a stereotype of sorts. 


Watch the song Vinayakan composed for Kammattippadam:

 For Vinayakan, the story Kammattippadam is very much part of his life. He grew up there, staring at the city eating into their space from across the railway track and helplessly watching the space around him shrinking. Soon, the city surrounded them, squeezing them further into a cluster of ‘colonies’ where the poor and Dalits lived.

 Even before the Kerala State Film Awards-2016 was announced on Tuesday evening, the social media had bestowed the award for Vinayakan.  

“Vinayakan deserves it. The award should be given to him,” director Lijo Jose Pellissery wrote on his Facebook wall ahead of the announcement of the award on Tuesday. 


Vinayakan was not overjoyed by the award. When media persons thrust him typical questions, expecting typical answers, he refused to entertain them much. “It seems, everything worked out in this film. Perhaps, my experience would have helped me in doing it (the role of Ganga). Big thanks to Rajeev Ravi,” he said in his brief interaction with media just after the announcement of the award. 


 When the photographers requested him to place a kiss on his mother’s cheeks for a photograph, Vinayakan became very angry. “Sorry, I can’t act in life,” he said.  He seldom obliges interviews and stays away from public programmes. 


When most of the award committees ignored his performance in Kammattippadam, people of Koottanad in central Kerala hailed him as their hero by including his huge photograph procession as part of Koottanad Nercha, a local festival. Vinayakan’s picture was carried on an elephant along with Fidel Castro and APJ Abdul Kalam. That was an indication to the changing perceptions among the general public, especially the youth who don’t go by the public relations exercises and attributed stardom.


Now, everybody is talking about Vinayakan’s Kammattippadam. The real star has come out of the shadows.