Kalidas Jayaram and Dushara Vijayan interview on ‘Raayan’: ‘Dhanush’s energy as a director is crazy’

Kalidas Jayaram and Dushara Vijayan interview on ‘Raayan’: ‘Dhanush’s energy as a director is crazy’

The actors speak about how actor-turned-filmmaker Dhanush extracted performances out of them, and on choosing characters that can create an impact regardless of screen time

Updated - July 02, 2024 05:22 pm IST

Published - July 02, 2024 04:09 pm IST

Actors Kalidas Jayaram and Dushara Vijayan, who played a discordant duo in Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, have taken quite an exploratory route in recent years. Even as they have started to play crucial characters in large-scale entertainers, they seem to be operating from an identical standpoint: to do characters that can create an impact regardless of their screen time.

Kalidas has been vocal about this approach since 2018’s Malayalam film Poomaram, and his characters in Tamil since 2020’s Paava Kadhaigal have reflected this as well. “I still follow that,” he grins, adding that he’s convinced on roles making an impact, based on the gut feeling while listening to a script. “No matter how many people sit to listen to the story or how many people say their opinions on the project, it’s that feeling that works for me,” he says.

Kalidas Jayaram and Dushara Vijayan; with Dhanush in ‘Raayan’

Kalidas Jayaram and Dushara Vijayan; with Dhanush in ‘Raayan’ | Photo Credit: @kalidas_jayaram/Instagram, @dushara_vijayan/Instagram and Special Arrangement

Even while it seems as if Dushara is balancing relatively niche attempts like Natchathiram Nagargiradhu with big star entertainers like Dhanush’s Raayan, Rajinikanth’s Vettaiyan and Vikram’s Veera Dheera Sooran, she says she only decides between the characters that are offered to her. “When the audiences come out of theatres, they should remember my character. And I am also ensuring that my choices are not monotonous, but versatile,” she adds.

Watch: Dushara Vijayan interview: On Dhanush’s ‘Raayan’, ‘Vettaiyan’ and ‘Veera Dheera Sooran’

With Raayan — also starring Aparna Balamurali, SJ Suryah, Selvaraghavan and Sundeep Kishan — releasing on the 26th, Kalidas and Dushara get candid in this free-wheeling chat. Excerpts:

Dushara Vijayan and Kalidas Jayaram

Dushara Vijayan and Kalidas Jayaram | Photo Credit: @dushara_vijayan/Instagram and Special Arrangement

What went into your minds when you were cast for ‘Raayan,’ and what can you tell us about the characters you play?

Kalidas: When Dhanush sir called me, I was excited but didn’t think it was for Raayan, which was quite a surprise. When he narrated the script and asked if I could do this role, I was quite shocked because he’s someone I have enjoyed watching on-screen. I am playing Dhanush sir’s brother; Sundeep, Dushara, Dhanush sir and I are all a family. That’s all I can say.

Dushara: Out of nowhere, I got a call from Sreyas S (CEO of Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films) that Dhanush sir was making this film with Sun Pictures and that they would like me to play a character. It felt like the universe was giving me some sort of sign; I can’t talk much about my character yet.

Kalidas, Dhanush, Dushara and Sundeep Kishan in a still from ‘Raayan’

Kalidas, Dhanush, Dushara and Sundeep Kishan in a still from ‘Raayan’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kalidas, most of your roles are such that you disappear into them; many will know you as Sathaar, Iniyan or Prabhanjan. While that shows your merit as a performer, conventional heroes would want to stand out... are you trying to balance both these schools of thought?

Not really. I don’t know how to go about the conventional route. Obviously, only that will hold you in the long run as a hero in the industry, especially from the business perspective, but I have yet to learn all that. For now, I am just feeding the actor in me.

Do you get any guidance from your father, veteran actor Jayaram, about this? I mean, just recently he returned to the action genre with ‘Abraham Ozler’…

I don’t ask him for guidance; for any parent, their son’s movie will be the best. So they will say it’s good even if it’s bad! I am happy that, at the end of the day, I can sit with my parents and discuss much more than just cinema.

Kalidas with his father, Jayaram, and mother, Ashwathy Jayaram

Kalidas with his father, Jayaram, and mother, Ashwathy Jayaram | Photo Credit: @kalidas_jayaram/Instagram

Dushara, until your last release, Pasupathy and Anupama Kumar were the most experienced actors you had acted with. Now, you are amongst the likes of Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Vikram, Dhanush, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Raj, Jayaram, SJ Suryah, Suraj Venjaramoodu and more, in ‘Raayan,’ ‘Vettaiyan’ and ‘Veera Dheera Soora’...

I felt nervous because acting alongside such legends is something I have always wanted, and when it happened, I had to take it all in and stay grounded. I also felt responsible, especially because my characters in these films aren’t just roles in which I just come and go; in fact, each of these roles has strong characterisation. But yes, acting alongside such stars was an out-of-the-world experience.

Dushara Vijayan

Dushara Vijayan | Photo Credit: @dushara_vijayan/Instagram

‘Raayan’ has Dhanush as director who has acted in 48 films under different filmmakers. Did you guys see any advantage in how someone with a good understanding of the actor-director equation extracted performances out of you?

Kalidas: Definitely. In fact, I enjoy the filmmaker in him more than the actor. I want to make a movie someday — of course, I want to be an actor, but before I end my career, I want to make that one movie. So with such a dream, seeing an actor like Dhanush sir putting in so much effort is quite something. It’s not just about his direction, but also his vision and how he has conceived the world around us. It is not easy to direct a movie of such scale. I have learnt a lot from him and it feels like I went to a film school for free.

Dushara: I had the chance to learn a lot from him. For instance, he taught me how to comfortably stand still, something you cannot do so easily. Similarly, he observed how I frown every time I’m listening to something intently, and taught me how to listen to something with a blank face. Being present in the scene we are shooting is very important, and that’s something I learnt from him.

Kalidas: He is not somebody who sits in one place and orders people through a microphone. The energy he has as a director is crazy; if he isn’t satisfied with something, he goes to the spot and fixes it. He strives for perfection, and until he gets that, he doesn’t quit.

Dushara, you usually do workshops and undergo specific processes ahead of shoots. When acting in such large-scale commercial entertainers, did your process change and did you get enough time to prepare?

I still do my workshops and make time. While switching from one character to the other, it’s important to understand the quality that each character possesses. You can’t just shoot one character and do another character the next day... at least I can’t do that. I need ample time to get into each character or I can’t do any justice to it. I do my homework and talk to directors to, for instance, understand what mannerisms we can bring into the character.

Kalidas, over the years, there has been a lot of chatter about what is ‘good acting.’ Does all that, consciously or subconsciously, influence your performance?

If you think a lot about it, it will start affecting your work. At the end of the day, if your director is happy and your character is moving along the graph that you wanted it to, then you are doing the right thing. I still remember being nervous while shooting my first shot for Raayan. It was a world I was very new to — I play a North Chennai guy who is very rough and tough. I kept feeling like something was missing and then Dhanush sir explained and gave me pointers on what to do. After the first shot, he came and patted me on my back and I felt relieved; that’s how you know that you are on the right path.

Kalidas Jayaram

Kalidas Jayaram | Photo Credit: @kalidas_jayaram/Instagram

Dushara, you have earlier spoken about wishing to inspire those who have dreams, because you come from a place where young women get married or have kids. Many stereotypes work against women who want to get into cinema; what would you like to tell them about the system?

Break all those stereotypes. You can go to any extent to do what you love. I had no cinema background, had to deal with those harmful notions too, and have had my share of troubles, but here I am. If you have self-confidence and patience, you will somehow find a way to come out and make a mark.

Raayan releases in theatres on July 26

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