Actor Kay Kay Menon says he has been part of many films for which he was overqualified
When Kay Kay Menon started his career with films like Naseem or Bhopal Express his performances, as well as the films, went unnoticed. Moreover, films like Hazaron Khwahshein Aisi and Black Friday had to wait years to see the light of the day and his cult Paanch, which was Anurag Kashyap’s debut, went unreleased before emerging as a youth favourite over the Internet. “I am happy that the Internet made people go back to see my earlier work and realise that I have potential,” says Kay Kay Menon happily.
If one divides his years in the industry into two halves, the first half gave him many more challenges than the second half where he was able to choose some films. Of late, his films often become showreels of his acting prowess, and little else. The latest being Mumbai City: The Dark Side of Life.
“Ups and downs have happened in my career as they happen with anybody else. After being in the industry for more than 23 years, I have realised that I should do that work in which I don’t have confidence. As a benevolent friend, I have done films for people for which I was definitely overqualified. One needs to do stuff for which you are qualified as being a good man does not bear fruits for a long time. Professionally, you have to be a bit competitive and one should also not be having the hangover of what you have done in cinema earlier,” he says.
When one points out repeating the character of an Army person in The Great Indian Dysfunctional Family, Alt Balaji’s recent web series, where he plays the big brother in a dysfunctional family, he contests. “People may think that I am playing the similar army officer again but I am playing a character. That time I was playing officer Pratap, who was a different person and this time I am playing Vikram, a different person,” he explains. “I play persons, not caricatures, and every person is different. You can count the number of jobs written in cinema, but not humans. Yes, physical traits from a profession may come but every person has his own story behind him which is always different.”
During the conversation, Menon repeatedly asserts the collaboration that is required by the film crew to make a good film. “It is not writing or painting, which one can do alone. For an actor to outshine, the director has to envision it that way.” Be it Gulaal or Shaurya, he is at his best when he plays strong characters and though his acting career slowed down after a series of flops, his association with some directors has proven to be a right mix of vision and achievement. “It is a director’s medium and it has to be the director who knows where the film is going and allow the actors to perform. I have worked with a few directors who are so talented that you relate with their idea easily and when two talents meet it is easy to work in tandem and you can take the scene to the next level. As an actor, it requires a special talent to improvise with the director as sometimes you go beyond the boundary but if you have a visionary, you can produce timeless work.”
He appreciates what individual characters did for him when one mentions Haider and Gulaal, but he asserts that people remember them because of the films as an actor cannot outshine the film.
If you notice his gestures and mannerisms from his various roles, his unique way of delivering a performance forms a style. Menon differs, “I do not think that I have any specific or popular mannerism. Though I have spoken the same way in various films like Shaurya or in Honeymoon Private Limited, I am very confident about the fact that if somebody who does not know me or hasn’t watched my films, he will not recognise that it is the same person. Audience familiar with my work may find those similarities but there is no intention as for me every character is a new person and I make sure that they are not similar in any way,” he avers.
Menon has always been shifting genres. He might be seen as a character actor in the last few years but still he attracts attention once a well-crafted script comes his way.
He is aware of lack of good writing in Bollywood which not only restricts an actor to perform at his best, but also leads to bad choices in the career sometimes. “What you do in films is what has been offered to you within a space. In whichever domain you are in, at least you can give the best as you cannot change space, time, and mentalities.”
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