No fears barred
Will Narain capitalise on the success of ‘Anjaathey’ and jump into the action hero league or wait for the right script?
There are 15 guys already in front of me. But I am ready to fight
It’s got to be one of the more candid interviews an actor here has ever given. Narain actually reveals what other actors like to hide. It is this honesty that gives us a rare peek into the mind of today’s Tamil star: a career-minded profe
ssional who has come to make his peace with the way his business works and then fight 10 other guys standing ahead of him in the queue for their share of the masala pie.
An actor who’s not shy of admitting his dilemma: whether to remain an actor or to sacrifice the defining trait of an actor — the ability to mould yourself into a character just to play a larger-than-life superhero who can kick 10 guys at a time.
Should he capitalise on the success of Anjaathey and jump right into the action hero league or should he wait for the right script?
Any other hero would’ve said: “I want to do different roles. I want roles to challenge me.”
Narain is honest enough to tell you: “I’ve come to realise that is not how the industry works.”
After Chithiram Pesudhadi, he only got roles where they wanted him to play the rowdy. After Pallikoodam, he only got roles where they wanted him to look refined and educated: “Doctor, lawyer, engineer kind of roles just because I had played a Collector.”
The day the first still was out for Anjaathey (then called Aaruvathu Sinam) with him holding a gun, they came to narrate subjects with gun-toting heroes.
How does an actor make up his mind about a director, especially a newcomer? “Just like how they make us do screen test, make up test, dance test,” he says, as a matter of fact. “Sometimes, a director may have a good script but unless he’s able to pause at the right places while narrating it, how do you know he’s capable of delivering it? If he’s not good at narrating, you might understand the story but you won’t see the film.”
He recalls his first meeting with Mysskin which was for Chithiram Pesudhadi. “He was so animated, loud and vivid, my mother got scared with all the noise around. I didn’t have any questions because I could see the film he had in his mind.”
So do filmmakers always resort to projecting the hero as the all mighty who rises to the status of the Almighty?
“Yes, sometimes I would wonder what the punch-line is doing there in the narrative. Once I asked why I should beat up 10 guys alone when I am sitting with my friends. And this guy asked me: Are you serious?”
In the last eight years of hanging around, that’s one thing he’s realised. “People use a different terminology here. The common audience might say: It’s a good film that didn’t work. For an industry insider, the word is flop.”
If you wait and do one film a year and if that flops, there can be nothing worse for an actor yet to establish himself, he says.
But in recent years, filmmakers have proved that decent scripts always make hits. “Yes, but if there are 10 good directors like Mysskin, Bala, Mani Ratnam or Shankar, there are 15 other heroes competing for a slot. How often do the good filmmakers make their films? So you are left with no choice but to work with new filmmakers and safe subjects. Once you have a market, then you do what you want to do,” he says.
Where are the scripts?
It never works that way. It’s a one-way street. Ask Vikram. Once you are in that league, you always wonder why you should do a small film when your market potential is Rs. 40-50 crore?
“Kamal did a Sakalakalavallavan,” says Narain. “But he went on to do different kind of cinema too. Even in commercial, I would rather do a middle-of-the-road commercial film than a pucca commercial film but where are the scripts?”
“If I wait and keep doing script-oriented films, then they might fear to cast you in the other kind of cinema,” believes Narain. “If I don’t pursue the commercial line now, there’s a possibility that I might never get a chance. These people always slot you.”
Isn’t it much simpler in Malayalam?
“Yes, there is very little competition in Malayalam, here there are 15 guys already in front of me. But I am ready to fight.”
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