Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Riveting Performance in ‘Aadujeevitham’ Sparks Heartfelt Exchange with Real-life Inspiration

Featured & Cover Prithviraj Sukumaran's Riveting Performance in 'Aadujeevitham' Sparks Heartfelt Exchange with Real life Inspiration

Director Blessy’s survival epic Aadujeevitham (The Goat Life), starring Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead, continues its triumphant streak at the box office, buoyed by a wave of positive reception. Based on Benyamin’s 2008 novel of the same title, Aadujeevitham draws inspiration from the harrowing real-life ordeal of Najeeb Muhammad, also known as Shukoor, who, in the 1990s, journeyed to the Persian Gulf states to support his family but found himself trapped in a life of servitude as a goat herder in the desert for over three years.

Prithviraj’s portrayal of Najeeb stands as a cornerstone of the film’s acclaim, widely hailed as one of his most compelling performances to date. The revelation that Prithviraj hadn’t met the real-life inspiration until after filming wrapped sparked intrigue, prompting reflections on how he managed to encapsulate the character’s essence without direct interaction.

Following the film’s success, Prithviraj engaged in a poignant exchange with Najeeb, bridging the chasm between reel and real experiences. Reflecting on the journey, Prithviraj shared, “In 2008, when Blessy first approached me for this role, I grappled with how to approach it. Should I seek insight from you directly, or should I interpret the Najeeb envisioned by Benyamin and Blessy? Ultimately, we decided that I would portray the Najeeb conceived in our minds, based on the novel and Blessy’s vision. That’s the Najeeb you’ll witness in the film. There’s a stark contrast.”

During their conversation, Prithviraj inquired if Najeeb, amidst his days herding goats, could discern the passage of time. Najeeb somberly responded in the negative, stating, “The sun rose and set… that’s all I knew,” leaving Prithviraj momentarily speechless.

Najeeb delved into the depths of his anguish, revealing, “I often thought escape was impossible. There were no gods left to pray to. I contemplated death as preferable to continued existence. Many times, I lay on the sand, hoping some creature would end my suffering. Yet, upon waking, thoughts of my family consumed me. My wife was eight months pregnant when I arrived there. Her well-being was my sole preoccupation.”

The exchange also includes reflections from Najeeb’s wife and son, offering poignant insights into their shared ordeal.

Prithviraj, moved by Najeeb’s resilience, remarked, “At times, I’ve felt you’re chosen by a higher power to share your story with the world. You are divine providence’s emissary.” Najeeb, though bearing the scars of his past, managed a pained smile in response. When asked if he would ever return to that place, Najeeb’s immediate response was a resolute “No.” “It’s still a nightmare,” he added.

Najeeb further revealed, “Even my wife and family learned of my trials only after the novel’s publication, through Benyamin’s work.”

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