The paradigm shift in career has been worthwhile for producer-turned-actor Jayaprakash

Be it the school teacher in Pasanga, the villain in Vamsam or the understanding dad in Naan Mahaan Alla, Jayaprakash's spontaneity has made the characters unforgettable. A film producer till some time ago (His GJ Cinema has made nearly 10 films, including the Srikanth-Sneha starrer April Maadhathil.), it's surprising that he didn't make an appearance in any of his productions! “I was a shy person. So the thought of venturing before the camera never crossed my mind,” he laughs.

The magic happened when Cheran insisted that Jayaprakash don the greasepaint for Maaya Kannaadi. Jayaprakash's association with Cheran dates back to the days of Porkaalam — he was involved in its production along with Roja Combines. “I tried to dissuade Cheran from casting me but he would hear nothing of it. I was extremely nervous on the first day of shoot,” he remembers. Maaya Kannaadi marked his debut and soon significant roles began to come his way. Naadodigal was one. “Samudrakani worked in my home production, Neranja Manasu, and that led to my presence in Naadodigal. I've never asked anyone for roles. But I'm glad when filmmakers consider me for worthy parts,” he says. They would naturally, because he's proved that he can play a variety of roles with élan. “The credit goes to my directors who have brought about the change in me. I'm no more the inhibited person I was,” he smiles. The incredible reach of Naadodigal has catapulted Jayaprakash to high rungs of recognition.

The role of a calm and sedate school teacher, who turns belligerent, in director Pandiraj's much-acclaimed Pasanga, exemplifies Jayaprakash's potential. Accolades in the form of Best Supporting Actor Awards from Film Fare and Vijay TV have made Jayaprakash take his career shift seriously. “Even when I was shooting for Pasanga, I knew Pandi would deliver,” he says.

Vamsam and Naan Mahaan Alla have stabilised Jayaprakash's position as a performer of calibre. If the villain with a smug smile and venom-spewing eyes in Vamsam caught your attention, so did the doting dad in Naan Mahaan … “When Pandiraj told me that my character in Vamsam will be far removed from the one I played in Pasanga, I said I was game because I know Pandi's potential,” says Jayaprakash. “As for Naan Mahaan … my sons are 21 and 15 and so portraying a considerate father on screen came naturally I suppose,” he laughs.

But the blink-and-miss role in Balae Pandiya didn't offer much fodder for his talent. Jayaprakash plays Piyaa's dad in it. “Director Siddharth is a friend. He agreed that he hadn't used me enough in the film. ‘We should work again,' he has told me.” Jayaprakash has a whole lot of interesting films in the pipeline, including Mysskin's Yuththam Sei (“I have an amazing character in it.”), and Gokul's Rowthiram in which he plays Jiiva's dad.

“At the moment I'm not thinking of returning to production. Why should I when as an actor the going is good? Earlier, I had to take care of the needs of my cast and crew, but now I'm taken care of. The lure is too much to set aside,” he guffaws.

Keywords: Tamil cinema