At the meet of his recently released web series, Meme Boys, I introduce myself to the kurta- clad Guru Somasundaram, while he is enjoying a serving of biryani. Until he finishes eating, he discusses everything under the sun except his work. And then, he switches to wearing a suit for the promotions, and then, it is all work. “Different-a edhir paakuranga, ” says a smiling Guru , speaking about what people expect from him. “People wondered if I was declining a lot of projects because I was constantly looking for something unique. For me, it all comes down to whether the character and the story are interesting. I think I make characters look different with my performance.”
In Meme Boys, a funny story about college students using memes to take down an oppressive college dean (played by Guru), the actor plays a serious character. I ask if it’s comparable to the political satire, Joker (2016), in which he played a stoic character, and Guru agrees. “In Joker, he was uneducated and suffered. In Meme Boys, Narayanan (his character) is an educated, serious person, who can be arrogant. He’s modern, and yet, regressive.” Guru shares that he has the ability to discern what’s expected from a character even during the narration.
“When a character gets asked where he is going, he can either ask why the other party wants to know or divulge the location. Both answers reveal a lot. Such small things help us understand a character. I n Meme Boys, I had to bui ld such characteristics.” It was still a challenge for Guru t o play a character who holds ideologies that are in conflict with his own. “I began thinking of my own progressive and regressive thoughts. If they didn’t fit the bill, they would be sent straight to the bin (laughs).
Apart from our understanding of the script, the director too has his expectations that I understood after a couple of takes. From there, the understanding of the character begins,” says Guru, who believes he can easily switch his persona on and off. “Adhukku dhaane kudukkuraanga dhuddu (laughs).” Guru isn’t new to the world of OTT platforms, having done a series named Topless, two years ago.
“In theatres, people aren’t disturbed easily, so that challenges the actors less. It’s more challenging when you do a series,” says Guru, who believes that films and OTT content have to be understood differently by filmmakers. “There’s a sense of leniency when it comes to films, and even though that doesn’t make it an easy format, a series has the challenge of making sure that each episode ends with a bang.” This is why he believes the screenplay and dialogues become more important.
“In the case of Meme Boys, in which I play a serious role, izhuththu nadikanum but bore adikkavum koodathu. The medium does not change the acting, but it changes the intensity. The intensity is lesser in series, but the effect needs to be the same. It’s tricky.” Guru says he is up for good content irrespective of the platform of release. “A wellwritten character is all that matters.
I consider myself an artistic workman (smiles). Nothing makes me happier than getting good roles,” says Guru who, after the success of Minnal Murali, has already completed work in as many as 11 Malayalam films in less than a span of 10 months... In fact, he’s done so much Malayalam work that occasionally, his Tamil slips into Malayalam.
“I have done films with Biju Menon, Asha Sarath, Matthew Thomas, Nimisha Sajayan, Urvashi chechi and Parvathy. In Tamil, I’m playing the lead in a film directed by Pa Ranjith’s associate, Dhinakaran Sivalingam. It’s a lovely family drama. After Joker, it will be one of those films where there are a lot of takeaways.”