I dig deep and internalise my character

…says actor Kay Kay Menon, whose film ‘Raja Natwarlal’ releases today. Here he discusses his upcoming films and his roles with Surabhi Rawat over a cup of coffee…

Tell us about your role in ‘Raja Natwarlal’.

In ‘Raja Natwarlal’ I’m playing a business tycoon, who is extremely shrewd and sharp; and he loves his money so much that even if somebody cons him for a rupee he would kill the person! The whole idea of the film is how to con a guy who can never be conned.

What was your inspiration for the character?

The inspiration… well I just dig deep. All my acting is internal in nature. So for me it has to be a part of me; it’s not truthful. So I internalise my character. If I’m funny it’s a part of me, if I’m evil it’s a part of me, if I’m lecherous it’s a part of me… that’s how you enrich yourself as an actor. An actor has a facility of digging deep within and exploring the spectrum as a human being that you have. My character in ‘Raja Natwarlal’ is not based on any person; it’s completely a work of fiction.

You are also seen in ‘Haider’ which completes Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptations of the Shakespearean trilogy…

‘Haider’ is ‘Hamlet’ and is set in Kashmir. That again is a negative role. When I read the script for the first time, I felt that it was one of the most brilliant adaptations of ‘Hamlet’ that Vishal (Bhardwaj, director) has managed and that whole ethos of Kashmir is there in the film. We all are playing Kashmiris in the film and to put ‘Hamlet’ in that context, to me, it is an extremely interesting concept! And I play Claudius in it, but I’m not playing it like the play. The whole space in which we are playing it, the 1993 Kashmir has a particular ethos. So I’m not the Claudius of the play; there is no king in the film as in the play. So we have tweaked it a little and I think it has come out very interestingly.

Tell us about your experience of working with Vishal Bhardwaj.

The best part of working with somebody like Vishal is that he is that kind of person who’ll never be superficial in his approach towards cinema. So be it a scene or a character or a line or anything… there are things that he goes deeper into and that process is very interesting.

Now that ‘Bombay Velvet’ is postponed for next year, you have one more film releasing this year. What is it about?

The third film has Manoj Bajpayee and myself, and we have come together for the first time. We hit it off instantly on the first day itself! It’s called ‘Saat Uchakkey’ and we have shot the whole film in old Delhi in 40 days, the genuine Delhi 6 not the fake ones… That place amazed me completely! The kind of large hearted people; no interference in your shoot which cannot be thought of in a small place inside Bombay. It amazed me how people were so loving and so endearing to us.

It’s a Neeraj Pandey production, of ‘Wednesday’ and ‘Special 26’ films. The film is directed by Sanjeev Sharma who is an ex-theatre guy, he is a brilliant writer and has a great sense of humour. So this is a humorous film where I play a person from old Delhi. Manoj and I are in love with the same girl, so that’s what I play in the film.

So you are playing one of the leads in ‘Saat Uchakkey’. Will we be seeing you dancing in the movie too then?

Dancing, not much; it is something which is not required in the film much apart from tafaridancing. But it’s not like the aerobic dancing that we have; I’d rather do that in the gym (laughs).

You are a part of Anurag Kashyap’s much-awaited film ‘Bombay Velvet’ too. What’s your role in it?

I’m playing an investigative officer, a guy called Vishwas Kulkarni who actually set up the crime branch in India, and it was his assistant who introduced the dogs’ squad in India. Since he is no more, I had to take references from Anurag (Kashyap, director).

‘Bombay Velvet’ is a very fascinating film because it is the ’60s that they are showing where you had the old Chevrolets on the roads, trams; it was that era where everybody was well dressed. And the sets were so beautiful! We shot the entire film in Sri Lanka. So when I entered the sets, I thought it was a pre-existent city till I actually hit the walls and checked! We had trams on the roads, we had gotten the cars too… everything was so amazingly done. Everything had a certain classic element to it.

This is the first time I was playing a ’60s character in my life and according to Anurag I should have been born in the Sixties; that’s what he says!

So you are kind of going back and forth in the eras in all your movies…

Yes! All the four movies… different languages, different eras, different styles of speaking… I did them back to back largely, though some of them did clash, but I managed. But I prefer to do one film at a time. It’s much more creative, you know, to hold yourself properly. And the ideas come to you while you are working, so if you are doing one film at a time the fertility of the ideas is much more.

Three movies coming back to back, and then ‘Bombay Velvet’ too?

I don’t know! That’s how the producers have all planned. I do a film, once it’s finished if the producer wants to release it, he releases it.

Which other films are you doing?

I’m already doing ‘Baby’ which has Akshay Kumar in it. There are a couple of others which I’m yet to sign.

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