Kalidas Jayaram on Paper Rocket: Kiruthiga has a knack for handling grim topic
In conversation with the actor who discusses about his series Paper Rocket, his choices as an actor, and aspirations
Taking a glance at Kalidas Jayaram’s career trajectory, it’s noticeable how the actor seems to achieve a sweet spot of doing offbeat characters while operating well within the mainstream space. If his role as a transgender person Sathar (Thangam-Paava Kadhaigal) won him praises, his ACP Prapanjan (Vikram) left a lasting impression. Kalidas credits this to the evolving nature of consuming cinema.
“Cinema is evolving. Earlier, a film became a hit if there were five songs and fight sequences. Now, the audience's perspective has changed, and they expect a difference in template commercial films too. In that case, I feel more actors like me will get opportunities to play solid roles in big-ticket films,” the actor says.
Kalidas is currently seen in Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi’s Paper Rocket, which has him involved in long-form storytelling for the first time. “In films, there is hardly enough time to establish a character graph, but here, we have time to get more involved with our character,” says Kalidas, who felt his role as Jeeva resonated with his real life. “He has some internal conflicts, which have to be shown subtly. That made the role further interesting.”
Kalidas, several times, has mentioned that he is a selfish actor. He feels all actors should be the same. “You should do what is best for the character and at the same time, make sure everyone gets their due from the movie. If you see it that way, Paper Rocket has a lot of senior artists playing some interesting characters. Working with them was a great experience and learning. It was a give-and-take process where everyone shared their ideas,” the actor mentions.
In a way, Kalidas feels that Paper Rocket, similar to Thangam (Sudha Kongara’s short in Paava Kadhaigal) has been more than just a learning experience for him. Both these projects have Kalidas deal with grim topics and battling inner demons. Recalling the times he broke down while playing Thangam, Kalidas says, “A lot of people keep talking about Thangam to me. But I did not have an enjoyable process while shooting for it, because the character had struggles and it was a dark zone.” In contrast, Kiruthiga dealt with such grimness in a lighter way. “Kiruthiga ma’am’s approach to topics of death and loss was not heavy or hard-hitting. I feel she has a knack for handling such topics in a lighter way,” he adds.
Despite such differences in approach, Kalidas assures that he is very much a director’s actor. “My method is to follow what my director says and submit to their vision. It is their ideas and inputs that shape 90 per cent of my performance. In that way, I have been blessed to have worked with filmmakers who knew exactly what they wanted.”
Even as his last outing, Vikram, was an action-heavy film, Kalidas opines how he is still hesitant to take up roles in that genre. “I think it is a very physical and hard task. While I enjoy action as an audience, I don’t picture myself beating down 10-15 people. When I cannot believe it myself, I don’t think I can make people watching do it either. But if things do fall in place, I might actually do it someday.”
The son of a successful actor like Jayaram, Kalidas strongly believes he has a long way to go even before being compared with him. “We are two completely different actors. Even his type of films and cinema is very different from mine. From Padmarajan sir in Malayalam to Kamal sir in Tamil, he has worked with some of the best in the business. I have just started, and I don’t see myself in a position of fair comparison now. Yes, there is Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu and Bejoy Nambiar’s next that are quite exciting. The bottomline is just keeping on doing nice films.”
One similarity Kalidas shares with his father is cementing a place in both Malayalam and Tamil film industries, and he is looking at making a mark in other languages too. However, the language isn’t his top priority for green-lighting a project. “While I do like to know what I bring to the table, one of the most important aspects is the team involved in the project. I should be comfortable with them and it shouldn’t feel like work at the end of the day,” the actor signs off.