Kay Kay Menon has the uncanny ability to slip into the skin of the most ordinary character whether hes portraying a Naxalite or a disgruntled Bengali husband. What stands out is that hes not playing someone larger-than-life. Off screen,he is much more impressive. Tall and lanky,he seems defensive even before the interview starts,with his arms crossed across his chest.
Were at the restaurant section of Firangi Paani,Andheri. The lounge bar has just opened for the day,but the staff is still preparing for the Valentines Day crowds. As Menon settles into a chair,I mention his latest movie The Stoneman Murders. Hows it doing? he asks eagerly. Upon hearing that his role in the film is being appreciated and that the film itself seems to be doing well,he relaxes a little.
This is a movie I really enjoyed working on, he says with satisfaction. There wasnt much publicity initially as the filmmakers decided to go in for a blitzkreig of last minute publicity, he says,seeming to feel that the strategy has paid off.
This is the second time that the actor has essayed the role of a policeman on screen the first being his powerful performance as senior officer Rakesh Maria in Black Friday. What draws him to a role? I have to feel an organic attraction to the role, he says,a little thoughtfully,and then continues,The script matters a lot,as does the director. And obviously,the production house and money matter too.
But some of his decisions have backfired,most notably,Drona and Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam. If I knew how a movie is going to shape up and how the audience will react,Id be God,not an actor, he laughs.
Under the dim light,with his long hair and unshaven chin,Menon looks like the poster-boy for arthouse cinema. But the actor makes it clear that he dislikes categorising movies into mainstream and art-house.
What is the difference between mainstream and art cinema. I never make such categories in anything in my life, says Menon,who has acted in movies like Paanch,Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Bhopal Express.
Menon,whos been acting since he was nine,is very clear though,about the difference between acting and merely performing. An actor is born and over time,he hones his skills. You cant make an actor. Its like cricket,where you have to see Sachin Tendulkar to know that he was born with that talent.
By then,the Mumbai-bred actor has visibly relaxed and is making wide gestures as he talks about his passion for sports. I wouldve been a sportsperson,if I hadnt been an actor, he declares,I was an athlete in school and even now,on my days off,I prefer watching movies or sports.
His next release is Anurag Kashyaps take on heartland politics,Gulaal. Menon and Kashyap have had a long association going back to their theatre days. Anurag is our most radical director today, he says. Even though Menons been too busy to watch any of the recent releases,he enjoyed Anurags film Dev.D.
As the interview draws to a close,I ask him if the ill-fated Paanch would still make sense if it were released now. He frowns in thought,before replying,Some college students watched it recently and they were moved by it. So I do think it would still be relevant today as the film talks about the same issues of discontent.
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