Date:18/11/2005 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/fr/2005/11/18/stories/2005111800690100.htm
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Portrayal of tones of grey

VIJAY GEORGE

Manoj K. Jayan has made his presence felt in two films that are running to packed houses in Kerala.


It was not the easiest of roles to do but I was quite fascinated by it ever since I heard about Digambaran...



MAGICAL REALISM: Manoj K. Jayan as Digambaran in the film `Ananthabhadram.'

Although he has essayed some memorable roles, Manoj K. Jayan has always been identified with the brash Kuttan Thampuran in `Sargam.' Now, after 13 years, Kuttan Thampuran is all set to make way for the ruthless Digambaran in `Ananthabhadram.' The wily brahmachari whose expressions are a study in navarasa is garnering rave reviews from everyone.

"I am yet to see the film after its release, a week ago," says an evidently delighted Manoj. "But I am overwhelmed by the response to the film and of course, to my character. It was not the easiest of roles to do but I was quite fascinated by it ever since I heard about Digambaran from producer Maniyanpillai Raju and writer Sunil Parameswaran. I am eagerly waiting to watch it on the big screen, once I am back in Chennai."

Manoj says that Digambaran's character underwent several changes right from the time it was created by Sunil.

Digaramban's character

"Initially, the film was supposed to be directed by Sabu Cyril. At that time, we had envisaged Digambaran with long hair and beard, more like a sanyasi. Santosh Sivan, who eventually directed the film, opted for the present look. It was his idea to cut my hair, sport a clean-shaven face and to paint my face during certain scenes and use long nails. We decided upon Digambaran's peculiar mannerisms to give him a mysterious appearance."

Manoj says that if Kuttan Thampuran had two different faces - that of a tough guy who is troubled by epilepsy and his metamorphosis into a troubled man who eventually hangs himself, Digambaran is a completely wicked and ruthless wizard, who kills anyone who comes in his way.

Manoj says his favourite scene is Digambaran confronting a police officer who has come to nab him. "He is in a sheershasana and is cool and cordial, evokes sympathy by narrating his woes, even as he tries to convey an unspoken threat that trouble awaits the officer. He enjoys needling his rival with magic tricks and once the police jeep speeds off, Digambaran turns into his fiendish self," says Manoj who is back with a bang after a slump. He also plays the prodigal son Rajaselvam in the other major release of the season, `Rajamanikyam.'

After making his debut in the television soap `Kumilakal,' Manoj was noticed in the M.T. Vasudevan Nair scripted film `Perumthachan.'

"I feel privileged to have worked with the some of the most talented people in the business during the early stages of my career. I consider it my fortune to have enacted some exciting roles, in shades of black and white. Even a black character like the wily Ravi in `Valayam' was a role with a difference. In films like `Chamayam,' `Kudumbasametham' and `Asuravamsham,' he showcased his versatility by doing a wide variety of roles.

It was Mani Ratnam's `Dalapathi' that highlighted his talent in Tollywood.

Big banners

"At one time, it was rumoured, during the early phase in my career, that I would only work for big time filmmakers. I had never planned on working only for big banners. It was a lucky break," grins Manoj.

Later, after the success of films like `Palayam,' Manoj was often cast as the hero. Some of his films failed to rake in the moolah and he decided to take a break. It was during this time that he married the talented actress Urvashi. A year later, he made his come-back with `Punaradhivasam,' which was followed by `Valyettan,' which went on to become a big hit. "I have been shooting for more than one film at a time recently. And the roles were all very different. Like the ones in `Natturajavu' and `Kazhcha' which were shot almost during the same time, for instance."

In Tamil, he had good roles in films like `Dhool,' `Tirumalai' and `Viswatulasi.' He is now doing an off beat film in Tamil titled `Sringaram' directed by Sarada Ramanathan. His next film in Malayalam is likely to be `Mahasamudram', with Mohanlal.

Can music be far behind when one is talking to the son of Jayan, of the Jaya-Vijayan fame?

Although Manoj is quick to add that he has not been trained in classical music, he admits that after films, music is his great passion. "Melody is my forte," says he.

Coming back to his Digambaran, one is tempted to ask him if there would be a sequel in the making as Digambaran is only brutally bruised but not killed in `Ananthabhadram.'

"I would repeat what writer Sunil Parameswaran said about him. Characters like Digambaran will be there while evil exists in the world," he says.

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