A paradigm shift in choice, but Narain is confident that his villainy in Mugamoodi will yield positive results.
The phone rang. It was Mysskin at the other end. Narain began with a “Hi,” when Mysskin said, “Machaan, I have a piece of good news and bad news.”
“Shoot the bad first,” said Narain, but Mysskin preferred to begin on a positive note. “You are part of my next project,” he said. But before he could continue, Narain interrupted, “And I’m not the hero, right?”
“Yeah, you play the antagonist.” The director, who’s also a friend, told him. Narain recalls the conversation. “‘What happens if I get typecast,’ I asked him. ‘You won’t, because the villain in a superhero film has to be powerful and imposing. And even if such a thing happens, I’m there to see you get back to the hero mould,’ he said. The assurance gave me enough confidence. Mugamoodi is almost complete, and I’m glad I took it up.” It’s rather intriguing that the soft, diehard romantic hero of Chithiram Paesuthadi can transform himself into a suave yet ruthless malefactor, in the soon-to-be released Mugamoodi. Ironically, both the avatars of Narain have been created by Mysskin.
All the same, it’s a major career move for Narain — one fraught with risk if he wishes to turn hero again. “Already people have approached me for negative characters, but it’s been a firm ‘no’ from my side. I’m game for an anti-hero role where I’m still the pivot, but not the clichéd villain, who is aimlessly evil,” he says.
During an earlier interaction, Narain had categorically told me that negative roles were not up his alley. It was the time he had been approached for Ajmal’s role in Ko. So I’m rather surprised that he’s now playing a hard-core villain in another Jiiva film. “Yeah, hard-core, one who doesn’t even have a romantic pair,” he laughs. “I would have loved to work in K.V. Anand’s film. But I felt Ko’s Vasanthan camouflaging as a decent guy till the end, wasn’t a part I wished to play.” He may have a point, because the sinister looking ‘Dragon’ that Narain plays in Mugamoodi has villainy written all over him!
“The genre is new, the project is big and the role is that of a super villain who is as important as the superhero. I can give you several reasons for accepting this role,” contends Narain. But equally significant is the fact that Mysskin is the director. “Of course, it is. As an actor, Mugamoodi should take me to the next level.”
It should prove a sensible move for Narain, particularly after the dampener called Thambikottai in which he was the protagonist. “I’ve been right in my choice this time,” Narain sounds confident.
As an actor who treads with caution Narain’s releases have been few and far between, at least as far as Tamil goes. He sees Mugamoodi as his comeback vehicle. “I was listening to plenty of scripts and none of them was engaging. Just when the wait was getting frustrating, the role of Dragon came my way. Something would have been very wrong with me or my luck, if I had let it go” he guffaws.
Mugamoodi could well mark Narain’s foray into the big league. It’s his first big budget film. “And my first Tamil film for the UTV production house. It’s been a wonderful experience,” says Narain. Grandmaster, his recent Malayalam hit with Mohanlal, where he plays a cop, was also for the UTV banner.
Trained in martial arts
Preparation for Mugamoodi went on in full swing for nearly six months. Jiiva, Narain and seasoned actor Selva, who plays a vital role, were trained in martial arts. “Shekar Master in Mahabalipuram is a low key person but a wizard in martial arts. The training, held at the YMCA grounds, was rigorous. I even had a ligament tear. But the effort has been worth it,” he sounds upbeat.
“Though Jiiva and I share very little screen space in Mugamoodi, I found him to be very warm and friendly,” Narain compliments the hero. “It was the same with Selva. And it was a treat to watch Nasser perform.”
Mysskin has proved his potential as a filmmaker. And this time, it’s obvious he’s trying out something very new for the Tamil audiences, on quite a mammoth scale. “True! He’s done a great job. Whether I work in his film or not, we meet up regularly. We get along well because both of us are sensitive, emotional and intense human beings,” says Narain.
Will kids be scared of him once Mugamoodi is out? “‘Stay indoors! Don’t even venture outside. Folks out there are going to hate you!’ Mysskin told me. Ha! Ha!”
Thanks to Mysskin, Narain’s debut in Tamil was noteworthy. Chithiram Paesuthadi was a sleeper and with its win at the BO, expectation for Narain’s films was high. But his choices proved a little erroneous and later it was Mysskin’s Anjaadhey that tapped Narain’s potential well. Now for the third time, the hero-auteur combo is back together for Mugamoodi and naturally filmgoers are curious. Will the magic work again?