Iris C F Gomes
His presence is undeniably alluring; eye candy for his female fan following. Nonetheless, Kevin D’Mello is more than just good looks. This 28-year-old has talent effusing from every pore of his body – talent he strives to enhance constantly.
Kevin’s acting talent is inherent. Although one cannot attribute his prowess completely to genes, the effect of being the offspring of a performer of high calibre cannot be denied. His father, Cezar D’Mello, is a well-known tiatrist, who has garnered accolades for his work on stage. The prodding and stoking of his acting abilities began with his father teaching Kevin to sing enthusiastically with animation.
Kevin D’Mello got his foot in the door of the movie industry at the age of nineteen. His name was suggested by activist and lecturer Prajal Sakhardande to Dharmanand Vernekar for an AIDS advertisement, which ran on television nine years ago during IFFI. Having noticed him in the advertisement, Dnyanesh Moghe gave him a role in his Konkani film, Just a Minute, of the suspense-thriller genre. But his passion for singing and acting was ignited long before, when he was still in college. He won first place in the Cantaram Competition. He also won second place in the Goan Idol and several awards for street plays at college level.
‘After the movie, Just a Minute, I felt the need to train in acting and learn about the technical side. So I joined a theatre certificate course at Kala Academy,’ says Kevin. During this time he got a role in the Konkani movie Ghutt, a murder mystery, directed by Capucina Alvares, daughter of the famed C Alvares. Simultaneously, he did an advertisement for MTS (Mobile TeleSystems), the Russian telecom brand. The advertisement ran on Asianet only in Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi.
He has performed in a Hindi documentary called Ragging, which was screened in fifty three colleges. Kevin’s breakthrough role came in O Maria, where he plays the title protagonist’s goodhearted nephew. Following on the heels of O Maria, came a part in television’s CID. Here he tested the waters for the first time in playing a villainous character. His professionalism and flair for acting was rewarded with an extension to his role. Then came another negative performance in Joe Rose’s Mariola, a story of a girl child, which has been showcased at IFFI and the South Asian Film Festival.
Unperturbed by any linguistic limitations, Kevin has taken on the challenge of acting in Marathi films such as Premsutra and the yet to be released Prem at First Sight. He has added to his acting repertoire by taking on a comedic role in Mogaan, directed by Darshan Lolienkar. Bollywood came calling and he soon found himself doing cameo roles in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Chashme Baddoor and most recently Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny as João the baker.
His rapport with internationally and nationally recognised actors, Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel, has brought him a wealth of knowledge in adopting a natural stance in performances and avoiding being overly dramatic. This is something he attempts to incorporate in his Konkani film roles too. These thespians were virtually served as an acting academy for Kevin. He has further developed his technique of acquiring the language, tone, dialect and mannerisms of the character he is to play, by imitating these actors. Of his personal impression of Naseeruddin Shah, he says, ‘He is a very down to earth person who was very comfortable discussing cricket with me. Even when he is acting he is so natural. Being natural while acting is very difficult.’
Having acted in dramas in various languages, he recalls a particularly challenging situation when fellow actors, who had never acted in an English play, had to perform Rabindranath Tagore’s plays The Red Oleanders and The Post Office at the Samuel Becket Theatre in Dublin. Somehow they managed to pull it off. It is the stage that teaches you to overcome apprehensions by enabling actors to hone their skills. Kevin says, ‘I wholeheartedly credit the theatre for my ability to speak different dialects and modify my accent and get into character for a particular role by understanding the many facets of the character.’
A true craftsman will always unflinchingly recognise his drawbacks and set out to work on them. Kevin D’Mello seems to be of the same ilk as he motivates himself to improve and learn more skills that would aid his performing abilities as an actor. He has polished his dancing by taking classes with Dr Martins and David Furtado. ‘I want to learn action (for fight sequences) if I get the opportunity,’ says the young actor, who is at present undergoing parkour training. He continues, ‘I keep trying to learn new things. As an actor one should learn other things too. This will give more scope as an actor. I want to convert my weaknesses into strengths.’
The young thespian validates his titles of Forest King and Mr Talent that he won at the Youth Eye pageant by walking the ramp for Goan designers like Monty Sally. He has acted in a music video, Maria, which celebrates the golden voiced Mohammed Rafi and a Konkani music video, Moro Pasun, by Rozario Estibeiro.
Kevin is also part of British independent film Jet Trash and will be seen in a titular role in Joywin Fernandes’ MMS... A Violent Story of Love. His upcoming film by Rozario Estibeiro has been tentatively named Gambler and he will be appearing in a short film called Psychology too.
And while Kevin D’Mello shines with versatility and thanks his stars for the variety of acting roles proffered him, he says, ‘If I have a career in the Hindi film industry I would not give up acting in Konkani films. Instead I would try to raise the bar where Konkani films are concerned and make them appear as Hindi films do.’