Ladies, Support your Man’s Dreams! The Nivin Pauly Story

If you haven’t yet heard, Nivin Pauly is Malayalam cinema’s latest reigning youth sensation, with a slew of new age blockbusters under his (metaphorical) belt, from the romantic Thattahin Marayathu to thrillers like Neram, the epic 1983 and the cult Bangalore Days. His latest, Premam, is running away to become one of Malayalam cinemas biggest grossers, ever. Whether he will become the next Mohanlal or will fade away like “almost superstars” before him like Kunchako Boban and Prithviraj, remains to be seen.

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But that is not the point here. Nivin Pauly did not start out as a superstar nor was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was one of us, the regular middle class boy-next-door like the characters he plays in his movies, a run-off-the-mill Btech victim from FISAT, a run-off-the-mill engineering college owned by Federal Bank in Aluva near Ernakulam, Kerala. He lived a pretty mundane Btech-guy-life, doing all the mundane things Btech students usually do. And then like any other Btech person he mundanely joined an IT company, Infosys nonetheless, along with some guys and girls from his batch. After working for a couple of years for said software sweatshop in the so-called Silicon Valley of India (where “silicon” refers to all the dust in the air thanks to the gazillion vehicles on its roads), he realized (like many of us do these days) that he was not really cut out for that meaningless life and decided to call it quits to pursue his real calling – to become an actor in Malayalam cinema.

Now, anyone daring to take such a decision would’ve been called nuts to such a level that a tree full of acorns would’ve felt ashamed of itself. “Whaaaaaat?? You are quitting, quitting a job in Infosys, INFOSYS!! – the software centerbolt of the world in the India of the Bengaluru – to try and act in stupid Malayalam movies?? You need help. Let me give the contact of a counselor I know.” But he was not deterred. He landed himself a role in Vineeth Srinivasan’s ensemble Malavadi Arts Club, then went on to Thattathin Marayathu – and the rest is history. He went for audition for Malarvadi with a broken leg and just after his father’s death. Nivin Pauly stuck it out, and it paid off.

Quitting a cushy job to pursue one’s dream is almost a cliche today. It takes not just balls but also enormous amount of support, especially from family, and that was where Nivin was lucky. He had a close-knit friends circle in college, some of whom also joined Infosys along with him. And among them all along was a girl of his religion and caste, and by being friends for such a long time they of course ended up being together. Such perfect boy-meets-girl stories (which is any guy’s dream – mainly thanks to stupid Vijay movies) are among those rare instances where the Universe actually conspires to make shit happen (as opposed to my case where the Universe clearly hates me and conspires to make shit totally not happen). She was his girlfriend when he decided to leave his software job for a chance in movies. And here, she must’ve actually been the one who made all the difference.

As any committed/married man knows, none of this leaving-software-job-to-act-in-cinema would’ve happened if his former-classmate-turned-girlfriend (and later wife) wouldn’t have approved of his plans. What if she had said: “Shut up. Stop with all this cinema nonsense and write that code and meet that deadline, so you will get a promotion and we can get married, buy an apartment and a car and a Tupperware box to take to office for the rest of your life!” instead of “Yeah sure! Go ahead and follow your dreams, I am with you, through thick and thin!” There would’ve been no “Ente Saare…”, no Vattiraja and no Malar, Nivin Pauly would’ve ended up another obscure brick-in-the-wall software engineer in some random cubicle in some random building in Electronic City Phase I, googling for the correct pointer to complete his module, progressively getting married, buying a Volkswagen Polo and a cheap 3BHK in Bommasandra, traveling home to Aluva once in two months on the Garib Rath, ending up living to pay off EMIs while trying not to get laid off because of automation.

Alternate Universe: The guy on the bike next to the Volvo is Nivin Pauly.

Of course, none of that happened, thanks to Mrs. Nivin Pauly and her support for him, I guess. Reliable sources say Nivin Pauly is today worth INR 20 crores while his old TL (Team Lead) lives on a 40K monthly salary and an old Splendor bike. There must be thousands of Nivin Paulys out there with their own passions and ideas but stuck in jobs and careers they hate, held back by girlfriends, wives (also, boyfriends, husbands) and especially parents, who would balk in horror at the thought of their wards pursuing anything other than the age-old beaten “safe” path, any attempts to stray off it discouraged with “you can’t do it, don’t take all those risks, buy an apartment and be settled in life, that is safe”, quietly forcing them to bury their dreams and aspirations alongside Bangalore’s dying lakes, trudging on to live out their lives paying EMIs. His lady, who supported Nivin to take up his passion, well aware of all the risks, got rewarded with him becoming a legend.

Ladies (and guys), listen to this. Your man (woman) might sound outlandish and ridiculous with his (her) ideas, but support him (her) through them, even if it involves ultimate crazy things like quitting jobs to pursue his (her) dreams. If he (she) is committed to his cause, he (she) will work day and night, move heaven and hell to make his (her) dreams work, because he (she) is doing all that not just for him, but for you too. You might be put off by the spectre of failure, but even in the unlikely event of that happening, it won’t be half as bad as the frustration brought about by a wasted life. Great men (and women) and great ideas are not created by conformism, only through risks and sacrifices. If you don’t want to support them now, 20 years later don’t look back and wonder “What the fuck happened? Where did our life go?”

There is no bigger crime you can do to yourself than let your dreams die.

PS: Of course, of course this must work the other way around also, men on a whole average pay scant regards to the dreams of their “better halves”. I mentioned “Ladies” here because that applies to this specific case. So, Guys, support your women with their dreams, even if means foregoing yours!

More PS: I’ve been informed that movies happened to Pauly. Even then, the risk is not mitigated because becoming successful at this scale in any Indian movie industry is extremely hard, even with a powerful Godfather, which Pauly did not have, especially these days where the populace is much better informed and educated. And of course, he is incredibly lucky, I guess. More power to you Nivin! Keep us entertained with awesome movies!

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  • Sooraj Soman

    Now I feel am travelling in the right direction, taking risks all the way.. :)
    My story is close enough to the star’s, except for the successful part…

  • Prakash Bala

    Looks very amateurish!. He did succeed chasing his dreams and that doesn’t mean thousands working in IT field in Bangalore are chasing money and have lost their
    souls. Each one has his own calling and Nivin was at the right place at right time!

  • Buttercup

    Just because he quit a IT job and succeeded in becoming an artist in films doesnt mean IT jobs suck! Without software engg you would not even be able to write this blog! He is lucky! agreed! His wife supported him.. Good.. but none of our business.

  • batman

    Quitting job and chasing the dream is ok. But why so much sarcasm about infosys or for that matter IT job? Is it a fashion these days to contempt IT professionals? Not everyone can become film actor or wild life photographer. These days many movies start with a marriage fixing of heroine with a software engineer (often staying abroad…looking nerdish, speaking american accent, busy attending meetings, having affairs) but the heroine ending up liking a local mechanic or farmer! Stop this nonsense. We software professionals too have self respect.

  • Nikhil Kuriakose

    Feels this article is not about chasing dreams. Seems it’s about equating an audi and multi crore bank balance to success/happiness. Chasing dreams should not be about ending up affluent, unless that’s the dream!!

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