I love stories that transport me to my childhood: Jayaram
The actor talks about his character in Lonappante Mamodeesa, what drew him to the script, and why he is drawn to old-school family dramas
Anyone who has interacted with Jayaram knows that he is a fabulous raconteur. He has a voice and talking style that’s apt for storytelling. I got to experience this first-hand when I met the actor to talk about his latest film, Lonappante Mamodeesa, which comes out this Friday.
“I grew up listening to the stories my father and grandmother used to tell me. I used to hear at least one story every day,” he tells me. “And then they passed on that habit to me. Both my kids grew up listening to my stories and it went on till they reached their Class 10. Today’s kids don’t experience it.” Most of the stories Jayaram heard featured elephants and that was how he developed a fascination for them. “In my childhood days, I used to spot elephants near Perumbavoor and Kodanad, and when I got home later, the stories narrated to me were connected to those elephants, and had me as the hero.”
The eponymous character of Lonappante Mamodeesa also grew up listening to stories, says Jayaram. It’s a reason why he chose to do the film, apart from the fact that it is set in Kalady, where he spent his college days. “Many of my friends are from Kalady and Manjapra. While shooting this film, I got to see them again after 32 years. They were all present at the shooting. In fact, the entire town was with us. But I couldn’t identify any of the areas now. It has changed beyond recognition.”
On what makes Lonappante Mamodeesa special, he says, “It’s been 30 years since I started acting, and I was very fortunate to have made my entry into cinema at a time when family dramas were doing extremely well. I was blessed enough to work with some reputed filmmakers like Padmarajan, Sathyan Anthikkad, and Kamal in some brilliant family dramas that came out during the late 80s and early 90s. After a while, there was a significant drop in their number and even I had changed. Lonappante Mamodeesa took me back to those days. I was once again reminded of my childhood, my village, the people I saw there — the temple committee president, the oracle, the carpenter, the coconut tree climber. I grew up in such an environment and that’s why I’m more comfortable doing films which have that.”
Jayaram also found the character more relatable as he had in the past gone through all the emotions Lonappan goes through in the film. “He is a middle-aged guy with three unmarried sisters, who runs a watch repair shop which belonged to his grandfather. I’ve come across characters like this in my life. We can see a Lonappan everywhere, be it in a village or a city. He used to be a very talented guy. He was a model student and a fine storyteller in his school. And because of this, he was also known as ‘Tolstoy’ Lonappan. Everyone else who studied with him has found success, while he is still struggling. But then he finds a way to achieve certain things. He doesn’t see age as an issue and is quite optimistic. I was a medical representative before I became a marketing manager for a chemical company. When I used to carry my bag around and knock on many doors, my mind used to tell me that this was not what I was supposed to do. And then movies happened. I didn’t ask anyone for roles. I believe God has given all of us something inside us to better ourselves. Lonappan also realises that. I really enjoyed playing this character.”
The film has been directed by Leo Thaddeus, whom Jayaram calls “a wonderful writer and director”. “I’m not sure Leo has been able to get the recognition he deserves considering his talents. He is aware of every character’s pulse — all the minute details. Sometimes we tend to get repetitive and he knows how and when to correct you. Every actor in this film has given their best. Also, music director Alphons Joseph took 30 days to record some fresh tracks with the help of a band and clarinet sounds. I can count Lonappante Mamodeesa among the best films I’ve done.”