Is Shane Nigam in for a longer haul?, Let’s Talk MOvies

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Is Shane Nigam in for a longer haul?, Let’s Talk MOvies

# Neelima Menon
Shane Nigam | Mathrubhumi

One can’t accuse Shane Nigam of being a Nepo kid as his father Aby, except on the mimicry stage, could hardly manifest his career as an actor. So Shane’s journey so far has been purely on the basis of his talent. In the last few years, the 25-year-old has really evolved beyond the spectrum of a “promising talent”—each film has been a stepping stone, unveiling surprising new facets of his talent.

Maybe it has something to do with his droopy eyes that reflect pathos, but right from the beginning of his career, Shane’s trajectory was always stuffed with brooding, conflicted characters. He has a face that sells pensiveness more effectively than joy. That’s perhaps why when Bobby (Kumbalangi Nights) grinned, it took a while to get used to it. His distant body language makes non-verbal communication easier.

Even an extended cameo as Shyam in Samir Tahir’s NeelakashamPachakadalChuvannaBhoomi (2013) is something of a martyr, and what stays with you is his quietness. While Kunjumon in Rajeev Ravi’s AnnayumRasoolum (2013) is angry and toxic, unable to empathize with his sister’s affair with Rasool. These two roles were perhaps pointers to what lay ahead for the actor.

And not surprisingly, what came his way were mostly brooding, dysfunctional characters who rarely smiled. It started with what was his first leading role in Shanavas K Bhavakutty’s Kismath (2016), in which he played a Muslim boy who is in love with a Dalit woman (Shruthy Menon) several years his senior. Though undercooked, the performance shows promise as he brings forth the confusion and anger of someone caught in the vortex of societal pressures.

A still from C/O Saira Bhanu

C/O Saira Bhanu (2017) directed by Antony Sony may be the first of several instances when Shane got an opportunity to truly play a lighthearted character, though it came under the radar of his staple onscreen characteristics. Joshua is a law student who is brought up by Saira Bhanu, a young unmarried woman who had a benefactor in Joshua’s dad. It’s more of a sibling bond and Shane has an effortless chemistry with Manju Warrier. Joshua is an aspiring photographer and is also willful and selfish. Shane manifests the character’s turmoil and vulnerability with ease, especially his outburst scenes with Manju stand out.

Even in Soubin Shahir’s Parava (2017), you get variations of Joshua. In that narrative placed in the backdrop of Mattanchery, Shane is one of the local lads who live a carefree life, playing cricket and crushing on neighbourhood girls till a tragedy unsettles him. It’s a performance that holds no surprises, as it looks like his comfort zone.

But in B Ajith Kumar’s Eeda (2018), a Romeo & Juliet inspired narrative set in strife-ridden Kannur, Shane plays Anand, who is a spectator to politics he doesn’t subscribe to. When he meets the fiercely independent Aishwarya (Nimisha Sajayan), he is shy and takes time to accept his feelings. The romance that follows is mature and innocent and the actors are superlative. Shane, despite being stuck in a role that’s second nature to him brings a depth to Anand and he is beautifully subtle in areas charged with emotions.

Shane Nigam with Kumbalangi Nights Team

Madhu C Narayanan’s Kumbalangi Nights (2018) was easily one of the best-written roles of his career. In a family filled with dysfunctional brothers, Bobby is an entitled brat, who doesn’t understand consent. When he starts dating a high-spirited Baby (Anna Ben), who has a ready tongue, Bobby gets chastened and reformed. Shane absorbs Bobby like a sponge, be it his blow-hot-blow-cold relationship with his brothers or his own conflicting emotions with Baby. The scene where he tries to bribe his step-brother to accompany him to meet Baby’s brother-in-law is superb.

Bobby and Sachi in Ishq (2019) are more or less the same person. Except that Sachi comes from a place of privilege. He is that typical hot-headed sexist young lad who gets into a dark zone when a stranger attempts to harass his girlfriend. More than her dignity, his male ego is bruised at the thought of the possibility of the man kissing her. It is his sense of entitlement and toxicity that makes him pay back with the same coin—harassing his family in the same manner. Shane executes his transition delicately—from vulnerability, and helplessness to smugness, that soon gets dissipated in seconds.

Vinu in Rahul Sadashivan’s Bhoothakalam (2022) is dealing with a lot of complexities at home, with a mother (Revathy) who has clinical depression, and his unemployment. But it is a character that makes you think that only Shane can execute with so much nuance. The strained conversations, or the way he huddles himself in a corner of a bed to shut himself from his mother’s cries, are moments the actor does without batting an eyelid. Sidharth in Sarath Menon’s Veyil (2022) is a stereotypical dysfunctional character written with Shane in mind and he delivers.

But he looked totally out-of-depth as SI Rahul Nambiar in Priyadarshan’s Corona Papers (2023). He couldn’t convincingly execute the sobriety of a cop, and also looked ill at ease – perhaps it was a terrain he was uncomfortable with.

That way, RDX directed by Nahas Hidayath can be termed as a revelation for Shane. Robert isn’t exactly battling inner demons, on the contrary, he is just another young, impulsive, aggressive lad who does a lot of things in the heat of the moment. He romances, fights, and would go to any lengths for his family. Robert could very well be there in a lot of boys of that age. And Shane does the whole hero act very convincingly—dancing, romancing, fighting, and flexing hypermasculine vibes. Though it is too early to predict how things pan out from here, if he gets in the hands of the right filmmakers, he can possibly be here for a longer haul. And yes, provided he cleans up his act on the sets.

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