?Escapist cinema will always be there?

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 26.01.05
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From theatre to television to celluloid, actor KAY KAY MENON has always created an impact. From the arty Bhopal Express to the mainstream Deewaar, the actor has lived up to the expectations generated within the industry after his performance in Paanch. He talks to Pratim D. Gupta about his new film Black Friday and why he is no longer possessive about his work.

What is your role in Black Friday?

I play Rakesh Maria, the investigating officer of the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993. He has his own team of four-five people and he sets about cracking the case. As like all characters in the film, Rakesh Maria, too, is a real man who lives in flesh and blood.

So did you meet him before the film?

No, I?ve never met him. When it comes to a film, my entire focus is on the script and director. And, of course, imagination is there. I usually do not do any research, unless it?s a historical character like Mahatma Gandhi, with whom the emotions of the common people are associated. I use a lot of imagination and instinct.

But wasn?t this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the character you play?

Art at the end of everything is fiction and drama. It can?t be totally real. It doesn?t matter whether I met him or I didn?t. It will be different from reality. Also, Rakesh Maria is a very private person. Nobody really knows him, and to me he is just another fictional character. I try to develop the character from the script and flesh him out. The director has met him and I didn?t want to meet him and get into those mannerisms. The caricaturing is not needed in the film. There are 250 characters in the film and most of them are cameos, at best. There is no real protagonist-antagonist.

Everyone in the industry believed that once Paanch released, you would be the biggest thing in Bollywood. How much do you regret it not releasing?

Yes, with Paanch we got rave reviews. I am human and aspirations do arise and you start feeling that you made it in life. But I also learnt a very important lesson ? you cannot be attached to your own product. The non-release of Paanch helped me look at my work dispassionately and indifferently. You give your everything to a project, but the moment it?s over, you distance yourself from it. Paanch has been releasing every week for the past three years!

You have done both kinds of cinema ? arty and mainstream. What is your take on the Indian film industry?

There is a niche for different kinds of films in the country. See, the fantasised, escapist cinema will always be there ? the Dilwales and all those films. The characters are all larger than life. And you also have real films like Bhopal Express and Black Friday, which are more true to life. It?s good that there is room for all kinds of cinema.

But how do you do justice to both as an actor?

You have to adopt different styles of approach. It?s all about adaptation, just like people adapt from theatre to cinema. For me, both art and commercial cinema are equally fascinating. At the end of the day I like to perform. While real cinema is all about making people identify with your character, commercial cinema demands you to stylise your character and package it well. The whole charm of the profession is to do different kinds of films.

You have some really interesting releases lined up?

Yes, there?s Sarkar with Ram Gopal Varma, where I play Amitabh Bachchan?s elder son and Abhishek plays the younger son. The Godfather intent is there in Sarkar definitely but the content is different. Then there?s Chandan Arora?s Main Meri Patni Aur Woh. I also play an important part in one of the three stories in Khalid Mohammed?s Silsilay. Tabu and Celina Jaitley are alongside me.

What was it like sharing the frame with Amitabh Bachchan?

I always used to wonder why Amitabh Bachchan is at that position. After having worked with him, I can tell you he has every right to be there. I haven?t seen a more disciplined actor at his age and stature. He takes nothing for granted. He just loves to perform. There?s a great sense of camaraderie. While shooting for Sarkar, I just loved working with him on scenes and mulling over them.

What about Naseeruddin Shah, your Bhopal Express co-actor?

He is from a different school altogether. He is a moment actor ? always trying to capture moments. The words ?action? and ?cut? have no meaning for him. Each take of his might be totally different from his previous take of the same shot.

You have also worked with our top star Rituparna Sengupta in Main Meri Patni Aur Woh. How was the experience?

It was a great pleasure to work with her. She is a very seasoned actor and once you are that, the language doesn?t matter. There is a lot of unsaid co-ordination on the sets.

So where is Kay Kay Menon headed?

I choose to look at the means and not the end. If you look for the end, you lose out on the means. I believe that if you enjoy the path, it?ll take you somewhere. And I am not that awful that I won?t have a good destination.