Inspiration to play this role in Loners came from life experiences shared by Halitha, says Arjun Das
For an actor who is relatively new and exploring genres, Loners brings him a different character than what he has played in the past.
A man—Arjun Das as Dheeran—who is unable to completely grieve the loss of his friend, and a woman—Lijomol Jose as Nallathangal — who is not over her recent relationship coincidentally meet on two zoom calls. In one of these calls, Dheeran reluctantly opens up about his loss in an intense scene. From there, Dheeran and Nalla strike an unexpected, undefined bond. Arjun shares that the inspiration to play this role in Loners from Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa, came from life experiences shared by director-writer Halitha Shameem, more than from his own life.
He explains, “Halitha had taken inspiration from instances in her life, or from experiences she had heard. It was all relatable for me. With Halitha, the good thing is that it is always very real. She keeps it all real. It was all relatable. I was happy and glad that Halitha thought that I could be Dheeran.”
For an actor who is relatively new and exploring genres, Loners brings him a different character than what he has played in the past. There is light flirtation, lighthearted conversation... aspects that Arjun hasn’t tinkered with in the past. “Not being angry and intense, and playing a different character with different shades motivated me. It was a wonderful story.”
The story of Loners grapples, as the title suggests, with loneliness that single people living in the city experience. To express all of this, and find closure for his grief is Dheeran’s struggle. Arjun’s struggle, however, was to act to blank screens. For instance, the reason Nalla is interested to talk to Dheeran is how he opened up about his loss. The intensity reels her in, but Arjun, the actor, had to perform that scene to a black screen. Speaking of his experience shooting in this format, Arjun says, “It was very very difficult. Initially, when I heard the story, I expected to see someone on the phone/laptop screens while doing these scenes, but here, it was to an empty screen and there was no one to give me dialogues either. So, Halitha said the lines—Lijo’s lines, and I had to respond looking at the camera.”
He compares it to the Zoom conversation through which this interview took place and said that the conversation is always easier when one can see the other person. Even the scenes featuring multiple people on screen were apparently added in post production. “I was just hoping I did not goof up, but Halitha said okay and so I just went with what she said.”
Considering the brilliant feedback that the film and Arjun are getting, it is safe to say that as an actor playing an unusual role in his hitherto nascent career, he has got it spot on this time.