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Exclusive! Jayasurya: John Luther was challenging as I didn’t know how my role would turn out till I performed

The Malayalam star talks about his playing a passionate police officer who suddenly has to face a debilitating hearing impediment in Abhijith Joseph’s directorial, which is set to hit theatres on May 27

  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 08.06 AM, May 25, 2022

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Exclusive! Jayasurya: John Luther was challenging as I didn’t know how my role would turn out till I performed
Jayasurya | Credit: Shimesh Muthu

Jayasurya’s past few films are a testament to his acting skills. Like a chameleon, he can seamlessly transform into a transwoman, an alcoholic or a loner who suffers from acute depression. His two releases this month alone could show his range and prowess – from playing an RJ who loses his voice in Meri Awas Suno to a police officer who suffers hearing loss in the upcoming film John Luther. As easy as he makes them seem on screen, the actor admits that the challenges are plenty when he chooses to pick these roles that are way out of his comfort zone.

In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Jayasurya talks about his process of getting into the skin of his character in debutant Abhijith Joseph’s John Luther, which is set to hit theatres on May 27.

In your latest release Meri Awas Suno, you play a character who loses his voice. In John Luther, your character of a police officer is partially challenged by the loss of his hearing. What were the traits that you brought to the character?

It was a challenging character because I can hear what the person opposite me is saying; but I had to modify my body language thinking that I am not able to listen to them. In that too, how long can you have the character asking, ‘What? What?’ It becomes redundant and also irritating to the audience. So, we have to navigate those hurdles.

But these are just what you see outside. Internally, if something tragic happens to a person, especially for someone who values his profession, how does he recover that confidence? If something like that happens, most of us wouldn’t return to our jobs. But when you are strapped with that impediment for the rest of your life, how do you carry on? The character is that passionate about his job, else he could have rested on the laurels he had gained by solving the previous cases and quit.

It doesn’t seem like a character that you can go prepared for.

True, because I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. Abhijith must have come to me because he believed that I could do justice to it. Frankly, I didn’t do research or try to figure out how someone like this would react because I just didn’t know. Even if I go prepared to the sets, I will still have to rely on how my co-stars perform for each scene.

For this character, both Abhijith and I had to see how my performance turned out on screen to judge the meter. After a few shots, we figured that out and then went with it. The volume and tone of a person who has a hearing impairment are different from how we normally speak, and we had to factor that in. This varies with scene to scene, and the only way to figure it out was to perform and then make changes, if necessary. It was almost like when I did Su.. Su.. Sudhi Vathmeekam. I had to go in a clean slate and then shape the character.

Because you mentioned the reactions of your co-stars, how did they help with your role in John Luther?

As far as co-stars are concerned, they would only look at how you are performing. In this case, it’s a role that I have never done before, so they too would have wanted to know I could pull it off and then support me; that’s the only way it was going to work out. The onus is on me to evoke particular reactions from them; that’s because they aren’t completely aware of the state of mind of my character. In John Luther, we have used certain techniques, which I don’t want to reveal right now, to convey those interactions to the audience as well without making it jarring throughout the film.

When the movie has such a character, it also comes with the risk of the character and the actor overshadowing the plot. Ultimately, John Luther is an investigative thriller.

The impediment is just another layer. What hooked me to the film is that it’s an investigative thriller. When the plot progresses with suspense, there’s another challenge that the protagonist has to face; so, his struggles are doubled. Another highlight is that it’s his limitation and he has to overcome that himself. The movie doesn’t play around with sympathy that the character could have got because of his impediment and rather focuses on the investigation. I have watched the film’s preview and I am satisfied with how it has come out. I hope people feel the same.

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