Actor Binoj Kulathoor, younger brother of actor Biju Sopanam, opens up about his acting career and what made him switch from business to cinema
By K.R. Rejeesh
Despite giving the least priority, actor Binoj Kulathoor was drawn into films and serials quite unexpectedly. His visit to the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) a few years ago changed his career entirely from business to cinema.
As the younger brother of actor Biju Sopanam, he grew up watching his elder brother perform Sanskrit plays at the famous theatre troupe, Sopanam, founded by poet, director and lyricist Kavalam Narayanapanicker in Thiruvananthapuram.
“During my childhood, each visit of Biju chettan from Thiruvananthapuram was a new experience.
He would enact his characters in plays in front of my sister and me. We would be like awe-struck by watching his performance,” says Binoj.
According to Binoj, unlike him, his brother had an intense yearning for acting especially for theatre. But Binoj had no intention of pursuing a career in acting, instead he ventured into business in Puducherry after completing his education. He had been there for many years.
“During the IFFK, I bumped into my brother who was in the company of actor Sreekumar and writer Suresh Babu (Kannan) of “Uppum Mulakum” fame. They were doing a programme called “We are Back Benchers” on Amrita TV at that time. I casually asked Kannan if I get a chance to show my face on TV. But he took it seriously and gave me a chance to act in the show,” Binoj says.
When “Uppum Mulakum” was started, its makers were looking for an actor to play the role of the brother of protagonist Balu, played by Biju Sopanam. “Kannan chettan asked my brother if I would be interested in it and my brother told me to give it a try. His advice gave me the confidence to enter into mini screen,” he says.
“Later, after winding up my business, I thought that it’s time to take up acting as a career. My brother also constantly reminded me that there’s no shortcut to success. I was also able to convince my brother that I wouldn’t spoil his name,” he chuckles.
Residing near Mudippura temple at Kulathoor, Neyyattinkara, Binoj deems his brother as his mentor even as he has never tried to imitate him. His character Surendran in his debut serial “Uppum Mulakum” on Flowers TV grabbed the attention of viewers. Binoj played the onscreen brother of his real-life brother Biju Sopanam, who played the protagonist Balu, in the serial. The actor is also part of “Uppum Mulakum” Season-2.
“It was a great experience to start out my career with my brother. In fact, “Uppum Mulakum” was a perfect platform for me as a beginner. I have learned a lot from Biju chettan in terms of dedication and discipline as an actor,” Binoj reveals.
He says the serial’s director R Unnikrishnan and writer Suresh Babu had immense confidence in him while giving the vital role.
Like his role Surendran in “Uppum Mulakum,” his character Jayan Ammavan in “Ladies Room,” directed by Rajesh Thalachira and written by Shabeer, on Kaumudy TV made him popular and helped earn a household name.
Commenting on the popular role, he says that nowadays he is identified as ‘Ammavan’ wherever he goes and he considers it as a recognition of his performance.
Binoj made his film debut with “Pathrosinte Padappukal” where he has a brief appearance as a tea shop owner. He has also shared screen space with ‘Paruthiveeran’ Saravanan in a Tamil film, which is yet-to-be released.
Another character that brought Binoj to the limelight was Ambilikuttan in the comedy serial “Aliyan vs Aliyan” on Amrita TV. Meanwhile, he could team up with Biju Sopanam in “Erivum Puliyum,” which was telecast on Zee Keralam. He played the character Douglas in this serial and it was a significant one in the story.
With a rustic man’s mind and willingness, Binoj is game for exploring more challenging roles in future. In fact, he is waiting in the wings for meaty roles in which he could showcase his mettle as a versatile actor.