The veteran actor, who plays a doctor in the Malayalam remake of Andhadhun, talks to us about taking a break from his TV commitments and his upcoming movies including Bro Daddy, Gold and Pada
In the past five years, Malayalam actor Jagadish Kumar has only done a handful of movies. However, many would have failed to notice his absence in the big screen as the veteran actor has been active in TV as the judge of the show, Comedy Stars. Earlier this year, the actor decided to take a break from TV for six months and that has resulted in him bagging some plum projects in films such as Bhramam, Bro Daddy, Gold, Pada and Kappa.
In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Jagadish talks to us about the reason for his sabbatical from TV, working with Prithviraj in Bhramam and Bro Daddy, and more.
It has been some time since you did back-to-back movies that have had you in substantial roles. This year, we know you are part of Prithviraj’s upcoming films, Bhramam and Bro Daddy.
The reason is that I have been the chief judge of a TV show named Comedy Stars for the past 12 years. My relationship with the small screen began with Kairali Vilasom Lodge in 1995 when I was also a film actor. Since then, I have always considered TV and films as equal platforms. I had done Life is Beautiful, Jagadish TV and season 1 of Minnum Thaaram, before taking up the lengthy stint in Comedy Stars. In between judging the show, whenever I used to get offers for film, I only took up projects that I had first committed, and because of that I couldn’t do many films. And it’s not that I only had to judge the contestants’ performances in Comedy Stars. I start the show with a song. Its music director Rajan passed away recently. His loss deeply affected me. As a singer, he helped me a lot in rendering the tracks in the best way I can and understanding the nuances. I also had to mould the contestants and discuss with them the creative output of their skits. These require a lot of time.
Once I started missing out on a lot of movies, people from the industry asked me to take a break and do some films, especially because I have been doing TV for over a decade. I thought it was a fair argument. So, since taking that break from TV, I have signed many films that will have me in small and big roles – including Bhramam, Bro Daddy, Pada, Madhuram, Gold, Khali Purse of The Billionaires, Kappa, Munna and director Ajai Vasudev’s next. I am also playing the lead character in Thattukada Muthal Cemetary Verrey. I could do all of these projects because I took a sabbatical – but it’s not because my love for TV has diminished.
How did you land the role in Bhramam?
Ravi K Chandran is a cinematographer who has given me so many memorable moments and films in my career. He had cranked the camera for my movies in the initial phase of my career such as Kallan Kappalil Thanne and Welcome to Kodaikanal, which we shot in 18 days and ran in theatres for 100 days. His skill had a big role in making me look like a hero. So, when Ravi K Chandran and Bhramam’s producer Mukesh R Mehta called me to do the role, I told them I had the dates. I first had a meeting with Sarath S Balan, who had written the dialogues. I also told Prithviraj that I was taking a break, and he was pleased because he said that at times when they had approached me for his films such as Driving Licence, I couldn’t give them the dates.
Being a remake, did you consciously take an effort to make the character different from the original?
I play a doctor in the movie. It’s a role that didn’t stereotype me, and so it also became my responsibility to prove that I can pull it off. I loved the character in the film and I sincerely tried to perform it well. Though it’s a remake, the characterisation of all the roles is different and some of the sequences too have been modified.
Another point I want to highlight is Prithviraj’s contribution to the movie. He had taken a lot of physical strain to play the character of a blind pianist. In portions where he had to fall, he fell flat and would hit and bump into objects similar to how a visually-challenged person would. Though there aren’t many fight sequences, it has a lot of action-oriented scenes and I loved the consistency with which he performed the role.
Also, when you are working with a group of people that you gel well with, the result automatically shows. I haven’t seen Bhramam yet, but the producer, Prithviraj and Ravi K Chandran, after watching the film, shared positive feedback about the movie and my performance. The other cast members including Mamta Mohandas, Unni Mukundan and Shankar too will surprise the audience with their performances.
You also worked with Prithviraj in his directorial Bro Daddy, which had completed shooting earlier this month.
Yes, when Raju called me for Bro Daddy, he said, ‘Chetta, the movie has humour but you don’t have to show it so it appears funny, the result of what you do will evoke laughter. What we need is a dignified performance.’ I believe I have been able to make the role different from Bhramam. It’s also after a gap that I am working with Mohanlal. Many have asked me if I am staying away from cinema, but it’s not that, I was just busy with other commitments.
With the kind of film projects in hand, do we see you return to TV soon?
A lot of people have been asking me that; now that I have taken six months off and got these good projects, they are enquiring if I will extend it by another half year. My reply is to wait and watch. I want to straddle both TV and movies together. But based on the performances of my next films, I might get some more good films and, in that case, I might extend it by six more months.