On a comic high
Irshad talks about his tryst with humour, his Telugu debut and his latest outing as Kargil Bahuleyan in Thrissivaperoor Kliptham
He used to be the poster-boy of art-house cinema, but easing himself into the garb of a comedian was no big deal for Irshad. Now his critically-acclaimed filmography features an array of funny mainstream outings, Kargil Bahuleyan in Thrissivaperoor Kliptham being the latest. "When offered the script, I chose Bahuleyan out of the other sidekicks as I felt an immediate connect with him. There was so much of scope for genuine humour, and since I am from Thissur the slang was no issue," he says.
Irshad agrees he was a permanent fixture in offbeat films during the early part of his career. "There was a saying that if Mohanlal or Mammootty reject an art film, the next choice will be me," he laughs. He adds it was not a conscious decision to associate with art films alone, "it happened mostly because of the circles I frequent." He has played lead roles opposite Meera Jasmine and Kavya Madhavan in award-winning films, but Irshad says he badly wanted to be part of mainstream cinema those days. "So with this downright art-house image I started looking for roles in commercial projects," he says.
Migrating to humour was another break as it offered the actor a safe landing in mainstream. Irshad says he is least worried about his reel time if his character is good enough. "In Anuraga Karikkin Vellam I had just four scenes and in Cocktail only one, but people remember them. Sathyan Antikad after watching Anuraga Karikkin Vellam called me up and said my character had a lingering quality, it remained in his mind long after the film," he says.
Irshad adds he is more than excited to work with the young crop of filmmakers and his wishlist includes names like Aashiq Abu, Amal Neerad and Anwar Rasheed. "While working in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam I was bowled over by their spirit. For them cinema is more of a passion than occupation. They will fine-tune with you. They have a lot of patience and their dedication is incredible. Look at Soubin, the most-sought-after comedian today; he took a break from his acting career to make a film," he says.
Recently, he made his Telugu debut with Rarandoi Veduka Chudham, a film starring Naga Chaitanya in the lead. "Telugu industry treats Malayalam actors with utmost respect. I played the villain and I am happy that the film was well-accepted by the audience," he says. The film kept him away from Malayalam for a while, but now he is back, joining a Jayaram-starrer next month. "As of now I am going through a couple of scripts and trying to be more selective. So now on there won't be any random roles, but good, memorable ones like Bahu," he winds up.