I want to break out of cop roles: Actor Narain
"Kaithi 2 is going to be big and I can't wait to see what is in store. I am also super excited to see fans asking for a spin-off series featuring Bejoy and the Boys," Narain adds.
Published: 27th November 2022 12:15 PM | Last Updated: 27th November 2022 12:15 PM | A+A A-
Several factors influence an actor's choice of projects. While for some, it might be for an elevation into the 'next level', for others, it could be the promise of being part of a compelling story. However, Narain, who made a terrific comeback with Kaithi (2019), followed it up with a reassuring performance in Vikram (2022), chooses films that offer him the opportunity to take the story forward and make a difference. All that matters to Narain in a film is the proactiveness of his character.
"The character I play should be someone with whom I can identify or be friends with. He needs to be intelligent, and even if it's the same cop role, I want to see some variation in the characterisation and how my presence can move the story ahead," says Narain, who has predominantly donned the khaki or played an investigator in his 16-year-old Tamil cinema career. In fact, to an extent, it is this stereotyping that made Narain become selective about the kind of films he did in Tamil.
However, some investigation-based scripts do, time and again, pass through this filter. After turning down over 30 such roles in Tamil in recent years, Narain was convinced to play Nandha, a private detective, in his recently released bi-lingual film Yugi/Adrishyam. "I try to avoid cop or detective-type roles as much as possible.
But, as a few well-wishers suggested, I listened to Yugi's script, and by the end, I did not have a reason to say no. There was something mysterious about Nandha in Yugi. He's mostly quiet and composed and even his team members don't know what he is upto next. In my last two films, Kaithi and Vikram, my character Bejoy is loud and expressive. Nandha is distinct from it. That piqued my interest," he says.
Interestingly, Yugi, directed by debutant Zac Harris, is Narain's first full-fledged bilingual film, though he previously made a special appearance in Samantha's U-Turn. "I don't think certain subjects will work in multiple languages. However, Yugi is one of a kind. One of the reasons I think it worked in both languages is that the story is very much set in Chennai in both versions, "he adds.
Narain is one of the few actors in the film who starred in both Yugi and Adhrishyam, and shares that this experience paved the way for him to learn a few new things. "From minute variations in dialogue delivery like modulation and pitch to observing how my co-actors in both versions handled the same scene, I realised how certain mannerisms or body language is suited for just one version. For example, how you greet a friend here may differ from how it is in Kerala," he adds.
Experimenting with his choice of roles, Narain shares that redesigning his market to break out of stereotypes is his next career plan. "I am ready to do anything other than being serious. I want to do something light-hearted. I am looking to explore a character that has humour, romance and more," he shares. And in the first step towards such a change, the actor is set to play a man with autism in Kural. "It is a character that is very close to my heart, and I'm sure it will effect an image change."
Unlike in Tamil, Narain's career in Malayalam has offered him roles to prove his versatility, especially in the initial phase of his career. Making his acting debut with legendary filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Nizhalkuthu, he starred in the runaway sleeper hit 4 The People, in which he donned the khaki for the first time.
Thankfully, his roles soon after helped the actor avoid stereotyping. "In Tamil, even after 16 years, I have not been able to get such a slate to prove my potential. I'd like the audience to revisit some of my classic Malayalam films like Achuvinte Amma and Classmates. It's just sad that these films were released at a time OTT platforms were not prominent," Narain adds.
While Narain candidly admits that his checkboxes in Tamil have definitely limited his visibility, it is this persistence and dedication that won him two promising films, Kaithi and Vikram. "I must say my association with Lokesh Kanakaraj brought me back on track in Tamil. I've lived in Chennai all these years. However, it wasn't until these two films that people began to recognise me in public more often. When I am out in Chennai, people bump into me to speak about the Lokesh Cinematic Universe. I recently visited the UK for a shoot and I was surprised when people from other states identified me as Bejoy. This is a rare phenomenon for an actor and I am cherishing this phase," he says.
About the much anticipated Kaithi 2, Narain reveals that the project will go on floors after the completion of Thalapathy 67. "Lokesh's ability to connect with the audience has lead to massive expectations for the LCU. Kaithi 2 is going to be big and I can't wait to see what is in store. I am also super excited to see fans asking for a spin-off series featuring Bejoy and the Boys," he adds.
Back in Malayalam, Narain is set to reunite with his Ore Kadal (2008) director Shyamaprasad for the upcoming Netflix anthology based on MT Vasudevan Nair's works. Narain shares that the project, which also stars Parvathy, has a faint parallel with Ore Kadal. "It was interesting to work with him again. I like how he explains a character and manoeuvres the artists through the story. It is a liberating and refreshing working process."
Narain will also star in Jude Anthany Joseph's passion project, 2018, which deals with one of the most harrowing episodes in Kerala's history, the 2018 floods. "It's an ambitious project and is made on a big scale. I wish it turns out to be a remarkable film in the Malayalam industry," says Narain, hoping for rooted films with subtle humour to come his way in Malayalam.
Having completed two decades in the industry, Narain admits that it wasn't all smooth sailing but it was a worthy ride nonetheless. "Even though I was with my guru Rajiv Menon as an assistant cinematographer, he understood my passion for acting. When my acting career wasn't taking off, he always had my back. He used to allow me back into the fold whenever I returned after an acting assignment didn't go my way.
However, after a point, owing to my strong determination, I worked hard and gave hundreds of screen tests and auditions. Then, 4 The People happened. One thing lead to another, and Chithiram Pesuthadi paved a way for me in Tamil, and with Anjathey, I got my big break. From then, there was just one way to move ahead in cinema... persistently doing proactive characters," he signs off with a smile.