Football legend IM Vijayan-acted film in line for an Oscar

After dazzling on the football field, IM Vijayan featured in several films. His latest movie ‘Mmmmm - Sound of Pain’ could make its way to the Oscars.

By Aarish Ansari

Indian football player-turned-actor IM Vijayan’s latest movie, ‘Mmmmm - Sound of Pain’ has been shortlisted to be a contender for an Oscar nomination.

The former Indian football captain’s new movie, the first in Kurumba tribal language, is among the 366 films that have made the cut in the preliminary round of the 93rd Academy Awards for the ‘Best Picture’ category.

“I have done a lot of films in the past but to star in a movie which has been shortlisted for the Oscars is something that is very rare and it is massive,” IM Vijayan told the New Indian Express.

IM Vijayan, who has appeared in some 20 regional movies, plays the lead in ‘Mmmmm - Sound of Pain,’ which revolves around a tribesman who collects and sells honey.

It is directed by Vijeesh Mani, who holds the record for the fastest film produced from script to screen (51 hours and 2 minutes). 

IM Vijayan said it was easy to work with the director because it was “very similar to listening to what your coach wants you to do on the field.”

Vijayan, however, felt that making it to the Academy Awards might overshadow his success on the field.

"All this while, I was primarily known as a footballer and it's a huge part of everything that I am today because the sport gave me everything. But after this, I don't know if people would start thinking of me more as an actor first and footballer second,” he wondered.

IM Vijayan played an instrumental role in Indian football in the 1990s, guiding the national team to the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship in 1993, and 1997.

He was the top goalscorer of the tournament in both title-winning editions and was named the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the year in 1992, 1997 and 2000.

The legendary striker still holds the record for the fastest international goal by an Indian, scoring only 12 seconds into the game against Bhutan in the 1999 South Asian Games.

IM Vijayan, now an Assistant Commandant with Kerala Police, was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2003 for his contributions to Indian football.

The former captain took up acting in 2000 with the national award-winning Malayalam film Shantham.

After winning dozens of laurels during his playing days, the 51-year-old from Kerala rates this step towards the Oscar on par with his sporting achievements.

"It is as good as winning a national award in movies or any trophy in football,” IM Vijayan said.