Movies

All in good character: actor Jayaprakash

Chennai, 17/10/2017 : Jayaprakash (JP), film actor, producer during an  interview with The Hindu in Chennai. Photo : S. R. Raghunathan

Chennai, 17/10/2017 : Jayaprakash (JP), film actor, producer during an interview with The Hindu in Chennai. Photo : S. R. Raghunathan

How different is the work schedule of a character artiste compared to actors playing lead roles?

I try to take it on a day-to-day basis. If I like an offer, I take it up, and if I don’t, I have the freedom to politely refuse it. Of course, I too have dream roles. I am quite envious of the roles Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets to play up north. When I see him, I feel bad when I’m offered ‘yet another’ father role. Maybe our actors too will get such roles in the future.

You’re an actor by chance. How did acting happen?

I had produced a film called Porkaalam, which Cheran directed. One day, he called me to his office and insisted I do a role in one of his projects. I thought he was crazy because I felt acting was not my job. But Cheran didn’t listen to me and went ahead with his casting choice. After I began shooting for this film ( Mayakannadi ), many assistants on set kept praising my acting skills. At first, I thought they were pulling my leg, but after a while, I guess I started believing them ( laughs ).

Is it easier for a character artiste to get stereotyped? For instance, if you play a father role, you end up being offered similar characters...

The difference from one role to another is totally up to the director. My method is simple: I see if the script can still function without my character in it. At the stage I’m at now, I don’t need to do much of homework for my roles... when somebody narrates a script, I’m able to relate that to my life experiences and perform.

So when a director calls you up and says he needs you for yet another father role, what do you tell them?

I first ask them what this father character does. I ask him if he’s a banker or a teacher and see if there is a variation to what I’ve already done. But to be honest, I’ve been given roles of substance very few times.

Would you say you’re called to play only ‘classy characters’?

I just asked a director the same question a few days ago. He said Neenga romba sevapa irukirenga (You’re too fair-skinned) to play a ‘local’ role. I told him that I would take the effort to become a few shades darker: after all, there’s a lot of effort that goes into making a dark guy fair. Even otherwise, do you mean to say that a fair-skinned person can’t be crass?

What are the roles that you hold close to your heart?

My roles in Pannaiyarum Padminiyum and Yuddham Sei. Naan Mahaan Alla took me closer to the younger audience. Director Pandiraj somehow feels I’m perfect for teacher roles. So when I travel down south, the audience there are like, ‘vadhiyar thana neenga’ (‘Aren’t you a teacher?) And of course, there’s Ustad Hotel in Malayalam.

As a character artiste, who is that one actor that you aspire to be like ?

Rangarao. He is one actor who can effortlessly pull off any role. One moment he’s making you laugh and in the next he’s making you cry.

Before you became an actor, you were a producer. Of these two, which do you prefer?

Acting is easier; you are pampered throughout. From getting picked up to being fed, film sets are comfortable for an actor. But if you enjoy being challenged, then being a producer is better.

So, are you hinting at producing another film?

I would like to. There were a lot of issues I faced when I was getting out of production. Financially, I lost a lot. I started paying people back only after I became an actor and that process is still ongoing. Maybe once I clear all that, I might think of producing a film again. I don’t want to say the grapes are sour.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 2:18:42 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/all-in-good-character/article19913371.ece