‘Kaithi’ should pick me up from where ‘Anjathe’ left me: Narain

He could not have envisioned the importance of good fortune in making or breaking one’s career. But actor Narain is not ready to be cast aside, not just yet...

October 21, 2019 04:42 pm | Updated April 21, 2020 04:13 pm IST

Actor Narain

Actor Narain

A game of football doesn’t follow a script. That is, perhaps, one reason why observers attribute luck as a crucial factor in determining who walks away with the honours on a match day.

Filmmaking is only slightly different. It certainly follows a script, but misfortune can prove a major detriment to your ambitions. Actor Narain attests proof.

In 2008, he was making a swift rise up the ranks in Tamil cinema after a second successive hit with Mysskin’s Anjathe . Unfortunately, for him, that has remained the last high point for an actor who straddles both Malayalam and Tamil film industries with élan. “200%”, he says, “... it was bad luck.”

To put his struggles in a nutshell, the actor adds that he lost count of the number of films that he had signed on to appear in, but, eventually, had to return the advance after it petered out for numerous reasons.

Narain in a still from ‘Kaithi’

Narain in a still from ‘Kaithi’

“I lost count at 28 [films]. That is how bad a bad luck I have had. I find these things strange. But I believe Kaithi will change it for me,” he says.

Reluctant cop

In Lokesh Kanagaraj’s upcoming film, starring actor Karthi in the lead, Narain plays Bejoy, a police officer, whose life gets intertwined with Karthi’s character, Dilli. What follows next forms the crux of Kaithi ’s story.

“One main reason I did Kaithi was Karthi. He is a friend, and someone whom I discuss films with. One day, he rang me to say that there was this character-driven film but that there was a problem. I asked him, ‘ Romba serious aana police officer role- ah ?’ (Is it a serious cop role?) He said yes. But I agreed because he was doing the film as well,” says Narain.

Narain with Karthi in a still from ‘Kaithi’

Narain with Karthi in a still from ‘Kaithi’

Though it was an intense cop’s role that gained him fame in Anjathe , Narain’s remark that he has since been averse to playing one because of the way these characters are sketched, is at odds with the critic preference for cop roles in Tamil cinema.

In an industry polluted by larger-than-life, loud policemen who mouth unrealistic punch dialogues, a rooted and intense, closer-to-reality cop character is usually considered a breath of fresh air.

“But a film equivalent of Anjathe did not happen, did it? It took 10 years for Tamil cinema to come up with Ratsasan . It is not that I’m uninterested in doing police officer roles. It is just that I’m tired of listening to uninspiring versions,” he adds.

Cut above the rest

But he was blown away by Lokesh’s narration of the script.

“All it took was 20 minutes, and I was on board. I think Tamil cinema has always had this thing... where its greatest filmmakers, or those who have made a statement, have all been writer-directors. The detailing Lokesh adds to his characters is impressive. For instance, I play a cop but I’m also vulnerable at certain points in the film. If I break down in some scenes, he (Lokesh) would tell me that I would take the character to another dimension if I went down that route. He has that clarity. He sketches the character’s past, and draws his reasons from there for why the person behaves the way he does in the present. As an actor, that gives you a safety feeling that here is a director who knows his stuff,” says Narain.

Actor Narain

Actor Narain

Working with a young crew was also something of a new experience for Narain, who adds that it was difficult, as a neutral observer, to place the director amongst the crew.

“It is also because Lokesh has no airs about him. It is not a complaint but very much the opposite. I told him that the way he is progressing... he is not climbing, he is leaping...” says Narain, referring to Lokesh’s next film with Vijay, “...that it is important he remain the same way.”

Besides Kaithi , the actor has two Tamil films pending release — Suseenthiran’s Champion and Othaikku Othai , which has Atharvaa in the lead. He is also playing the lead in a Malayalam film, Kallan . But his previous experience only permits the actor to tread a line of caution.

“I’m 99% certain that the project will take off in two months’ time,” he says.

Holding steady

Through the tough times, the actor says, he reached out to and embraced his spiritual side for solace.

Actor Narain

Actor Narain

“It helped balance the frustration which could have manifested into something else. For my personality, I was not someone who should have entered cinema but it is also my passion. It is the equivalent of having a spiritual inclination but you’re also ambitious about getting ahead in life,” he says.

The soul-searching exercise has done little to dent the actor’s ability to take the hardships in life with a pinch of salt, and a good allowance of humour. He remarks that existence and the intrinsic finality of it all is what that fills his thought-process these days.

So, has Narain figured out who he is? “Narain... he is a good man. He is a very decent individual from among all the people I have seen,” he laughs.

“When I’m not doing films, I read a little bit. I watch a lot of films, and spend a lot of time interacting with friends. I have little materialistic desire. Perhaps, that is why I’m a misfit in this industry,” he says, adding in conclusion, “But I hope Kaithi changes things for me. I expect it to pick me up from where Anjathe left me.”

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