Actor Jagadish says why Appukuttan, his character in the film `In Ghost Inn', is dear to him
Dr. Appukuttan firmly believes that laughter is the best medicine. As In Ghost Inn reaches theatres today, Jagadish, who immortalised Apukuttan on the screen, says he cherishes his most popular character in his filmography.
“He is the one who gave me a real foothold in films and made me a household name. Even today, youngsters who watch the 20-year-old Harihar Nagar, come up to tell me that Appukuttan is their favourite character and reel of his dialogues in the film,” says Jagadish. Prior to Harihar Nagar he had acted in films such as My Dear Kuttichathan (his debut film), Odarathuammava Aaalariyaam, Vellanakalude Nadu and so on. The usual teething problems were present in Jagadish's initial years in Mollywood too. “But Appukuttan's nature, his antics and his punchlines have made him the favourite of generations of cine-goers,” says Jagadish.
Although Jagadish went on to make his fans rock with laughter in films such as Godfather, Hitler and Georgekutty c/o Georgekutty, none of his characters could match Appukuttan when it came to popularity. 2 Harihar Nagar, the sequel to Harihar Nagar, confirmed Appukuttan's ratings on the popularity chart.
“Appukuttan is not an idiot. He is an intelligent dentist but it just that the connection between his brain and his vocal chords are a little slow. So he talks first and then thinks,” says Lal, the creator of Appukuttan.
Expressing his gratitude to film directors Siddique and Lal, especially the latter who revived the character in 2 Harihar Nagar, Jagadish says he owes his popularity to the director and scenarist who conceptualised the character and gave him the most memorable lines to send his fans into splits. “He is the bumbling naïve guy with the golden heart. And even when the four friends threatened to split in the sequel, it was Appukuttan who made the effort to hold them together,” says Jagadish. He adds that whenever his career in films threatened to go into the doldrums, it was Appukuttan who put a smile on his face as well by giving a boost to the actor in him.
While Appukuttan regales his fans, another film, April Fool, releasing on April 1 will see Jagadish in the role of a script writer as well. Not a new role for the theatre-actor-turned film actor. “At various times in my career, I have written scripts, screenplay or stories for different films. I don't think I am a good writer so I prefer some else writing the screenplay though I have done that occasionally. Some of my stories were for Mutharamkunnu PO, Akkare Ninnoru Maran, Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu and so on...,” says Jagadish. In fact, his passion for cinema made him put his career as a lecturer and Canara bank officer on hold.
And what about reports of his turning director as well? Agreeing that it is on the cards, Jagadish, says he would have been engrossed in his script and directorial venture if the third part of Harihar Nagar had not come up. “Some of my colleagues say their idea of relaxation is to live on a farm or travel abroad but my idea of a retired life is to watch films in a multiplex from 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then watch television. I see myself as an excellent viewer,” says Jagadish who reinvented his career by appearing as a successful anchor person and celebrity judge when he felt that he was repeating himself on the big screen.
Asserting he has no plans of ever quitting television, he says it has been a fruitful association. “I enjoy the interaction with viewers and participants of the talent show I anchor in Asianet. But I must admit that my work as a film star has definitely helped me make an impact on the small screen. The other way around would have been difficult,” he says candidly.
Comedy Show on Asianet also saw Jagadish watching in merriment many of the participants imitating him to perfection. Even the toothy grin was in place. “Flattering! Isn't it? Kottayam Nazeer and Suraj Venjarmoodu are so good at it. In fact, it is when Suraj imitated me that I found what was wrong in the way I carried myself. Not even a mirror could have shown me that so well,” claims Jagadish.
An admirer of brothers Kishore Kumar, who he feels has not been given his due, and Ashok Kumar, Jagadish says he want to emulate the brothers and continue working under the arc lights in one way or the other. “Character actors never fade away. They are always busy. So, eventually, I see myself playing father and uncle to younger stars,” he says laughing. The actor's new films include Sakudumbam Shymala, Vande Mataram, Alexander the Great and Paatttinte Palazhi. Looks like happy days are here again for Jagadish.