Rss

  • stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Actor Kay Kay Menon – I take my work seriously, not myself

ep 30 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
I TAKE MY WORK SERIOUSLY, NOT MYSELF
Kay Kay Menon, 47, may not have shirt-tearing fans, but he is highly respected for his craft as an actor. He is emotional and sensitive and likes to live in his own cocoon. While he does not have materialistic ambitions, he would do anything to play a good characteron screen. He is a man of his own convictions and considersNaseeruddin Shah his unofficial guru when it comes to acting. Over a cup of coffee, ahead of his upcomingVishalBhardwaj filmHaider that he is extremely proud of, he talks to Bombay Times about what made him choose to lead the life of a pauper, his loving wifeNivedita and why he admiresAamir Khan as an actor. Excerpts:
How did you come into films?I was born in Kerala, where my maternal grandparents lived, and stayed there till the age of one, after which I came to Maharashtra to live with my parents and moved all around the state with my father, who worked as a superintendent in an ordnance factory . My mother was a housewife. I studied at a convent in Pune. So while my English was good, my Hindi was very bad till we moved to Chandrapur at the edge of Maharashtra and MP, when my Hindi, too, became good. I finished my graduation in Physics and then did my MBA from Pune University . I started working in advertising. That was my lowest period, as one month into it, I felt doomed as I didn’t think it was my place and did not know what to apply for next. I was really depressed. I started my little shop, making corporate films. I had held those false aspirations in advertising that were ill-founded, as I didn’t know what I wanted to do but right from the age of nine, I had been on stage doing theatre. I remember my first role as a sunflower at nine. In every school play , my teachers would kind of scramble for me to be in them and I found freedom on stage. I felt bound by everything else. One fine day , I realised that advertising was not my calling. I closed shop and plunged into theatre. I found out where certain plays were being rehearsed and found Naseeruddin Shah’s Motley group to be doing Julius Caesar. I landed up there and met Naseer. He told me, `We are two months into rehearsals and there is no space for you, but you can hang around.’ So I hung around. I was positioned in the crowd somewhere amongst 70 actors. But yet, it felt good. I had decided to lead a life of a pauper by choice and not by chance, drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, going without food many a time. I had a group of friends who I stayed with in Santacruz, who were interested in the arts and it used to be a routine with us that we would do loud readings back in our room, where one of us would read and the rest would listen. So Russian literature got consumed. It was quite enriching an experience, despite living like a pauper. My first break in theatre came with Feroz Abbas Khan’s Mahatma Vs Gandhi, where Naseer played Gandhi and I, his son Harilal.The play got rave reviews. That’s also a time when I got close to Naseer. He is my unofficial guru. As the theatre doyen, Pandit Satyadev Dubey would say, `The paradox of acting is that it can’t be taught, but it can be learnt.’ So that’s what I did with Naseer. I kept learning.My first exposure to the big screen happened with Saeed Mirza’s Naseem. I had been doing theatre with Makarand Deshpande, who would take me everywhere, wanting people to notice me. He had his personal ambition to make it for me. I then did my first proper film Bhopal Express with Mahesh Mathai.

Who do you love the most in the world?

My mother and my wife Nivedita.

What are you like?

I like the fact that I am not a narcissist by nature. Narcissism is self-love at its extreme. That is my good and bad quality. The bad quality is that if you are not narcissistic in nature, it is a problem in our profession as self-love is a necessary criteria. Everybody likes to talk about themselves and be seen around, apart from the screen. Perhaps, I could be a little more social, but being a single child right from my childhood, I have always relied on my own devices.

Apart from acting, what do you enjoy doing the most?

I love playing sports. One, it mentally cleanses your system. In sports, you can never become a star till you perform on the field. And if you score on the field, then you can reap any amount of benefits. Frankly , my life is not consumed by the film industry . So I take my work very seriously , but I don’t take myself very seriously . I find it ridiculous to pontificate and I don’t bear any grudge. I would hope that certain sanctity towards cinema is still kept. I find two kinds of things happening today, cinema and non-cinema. A collage of good things can’t be good cinema. You can’t play lawn tennis with a cricket bat. I have great respect for marketing. I think it’s a very creative job just as making a film is, but the problem is that one tries to bulldoze the other. Both these departments need to be kept mutually exclusive. I have a problem when marketing tries to get into the creative process of storytelling.

What kind of films do you consider examples of a good balance between good marketing and good cinema?

Paan Singh Tomar, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Queen, amongst many others. The genius of Raju Hirani, where you have content and everything falls correctly in place. If you are a refrigerator manufacturer and I am a marketing person and I come and say give it a little microwave effect here and a washing machine effect on the other side, a refrigerator does not remain a refrigerator anymore.So while I would still be marketing it as a fridge, in reality, I have destroyed it. I feel the so-called big blockbusters are examples of those, where the microwave oven may be the item song. It is not cinema anymore and is just a collage of many things put together.There are some mandatories in acting.One, you need to surrender your ego to it. While roles are finite, characters are infinite. The person that you are playing i.e. if I am playing Dinesh the cop, I am playing Dinesh and not the cop. The cop is only for the designation and the appearance. People often play roles, not people. If you do that, you will automatically be different as each person is different and surrendering your ego is so much essential for that. But today, tripling your personal ego on screen is called acting. There is nothing called external acting, which means that all that you act has to come from within.Each actor has that spectrum within him. I can understand when you research for historical characters, but why research for fictional ones as you land up doing mannerism shopping in that case.

An actor you admire?

I respect Aamir Khan a lot. He contributes a lot to cinema. I don’t think Delhi Belly or a Peepli Live would have got the eye balls it got, had he not contributed in the way he did. Also, he makes a lot of difference to the screenplay. You take the directors who have worked with him and see how then they have worked without him, be it in Lagaan or Rang De Basanti, and you know the difference.

Talk about your wife Nivedita?

She is also an actor and does theatre and TV . She understands me the best. I love the fact that she can be blunt and say things on my face and the fact that she puts my life in order. She does not do it like a duty , but she does it out of love.She doesn’t like my scattered brain kind of living. I have a tendency of letting my mind travel a lot rather than me travelling all the way . And she gives me that space. Life needs to have some eureka moments for me. I try not to hurt people and I am gentle. What’s beautiful about her is her tonality , where she is able to speak her mind and yet not hurt anyone.If I were to do that, I would have landed up hurting people.

Talk about your mentor Naseeruddin Shah?

As a human being, ever since I have interacted with him, I have only learnt.He is a fun guy and I like the fact that he is a moohphat. He has absolutely no false airs about himself. I remember we had to once perform Mahatma Vs Gandhi for the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan. So we all went in a bus there. We entered the first security gate, got down and had our checking done, then the same thing at the second gate. By the time we reached the third gate and were asked to do the same drill once again, Naseer blew his top. He said, ‘Who the hell does he think he is? Hum koi bhaand nahi hain.’ Suddenly the security guys came and everything was in order. And that did not come from any ego, but it came from deep selfrespect.Had he been a man of ego, he would have been a different man today . If somebody has invited you to perform somewhere, whoever he may be, you don’t make life difficult for him to enter your house. We ultimately reached inside, where the whole cabinet had come to watch and suddenly from outside I heard someone shout, `KK. Come here. Go there.’ I went outside to see who was shouting taking my name and discovered that there was this dark handsome sniffer dog whose name was also KK. I landed up shaking hands with him. Naseer doesn’t suffer fools and is brutally honest. He is often a misunderstood man.

Naseer is often a misunderstood man
Kay Kay Menon, 47, may not have shirt-tearing fans, but he is highly respected for his craft as an actor. He is emotional and sensitive and likes to live in his own cocoon. While he does not have materialistic ambitions, he would do anything to play a good characteron screen. He is a man of his own convictions and considersNaseeruddin Shah his unofficial guru when it comes to acting. Over a cup of coffee, ahead of his upcomingVishalBhardwaj filmHaider that he is extremely proud of, he talks to Bombay Times about what made him choose to lead the life of a pauper, his loving wifeNivedita and why he admiresAamir Khan as an actor. Excerpts:How did you come into films?I was born in Kerala, where my maternal grandparents lived, and stayed there till the age of one, after which I came to Maharashtra to live with my parents and moved all around the state with my father, who worked as a superintendent in an ordnance factory . My mother was a housewife. I studied at a convent in Pune. So while my English was good, my Hindi was very bad till we moved to Chandrapur at the edge of Maharashtra and MP, when my Hindi, too, became good. I finished my graduation in Physics and then did my MBA from Pune University . I started working in advertising. That was my lowest period, as one month into it, I felt doomed as I didn’t think it was my place and did not know what to apply for next. I was really depressed. I started my little shop, making corporate films. I had held those false aspirations in advertising that were ill-founded, as I didn’t know what I wanted to do but right from the age of nine, I had been on stage doing theatre. I remember my first role as a sunflower at nine. In every school play , my teachers would kind of scramble for me to be in them and I found freedom on stage. I felt bound by everything else. One fine day , I realised that advertising was not my calling. I closed shop and plunged into theatre. I found out where certain plays were being rehearsed and found Naseeruddin Shah’s Motley group to be doing Julius Caesar. I landed up there and met Naseer. He told me, `We are two months into rehearsals and there is no space for you, but you can hang around.’ So I hung around. I was positioned in the crowd somewhere amongst 70 actors. But yet, it felt good. I had decided to lead a life of a pauper by choice and not by chance, drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, going without food many a time. I had a group of friends who I stayed with in Santacruz, who were interested in the arts and it used to be a routine with us that we would do loud readings back in our room, where one of us would read and the rest would listen. So Russian literature got consumed. It was quite enriching an experience, despite living like a pauper. My first break in theatre came with Feroz Abbas Khan’s Mahatma Vs Gandhi, where Naseer played Gandhi and I, his son Harilal.The play got rave reviews. That’s also a time when I got close to Naseer. He is my unofficial guru. As the theatre doyen, Pandit Satyadev Dubey would say, `The paradox of acting is that it can’t be taught, but it can be learnt.’ So that’s what I did with Naseer. I kept learning.My first exposure to the big screen happened with Saeed Mirza’s Naseem. I had been doing theatre with Makarand Deshpande, who would take me everywhere, wanting people to notice me. He had his personal ambition to make it for me. I then did my first proper film Bhopal Express with Mahesh Mathai.

Who do you love the most in the world?

My mother and my wife Nivedita.

What are you like?

I like the fact that I am not a narcissist by nature. Narcissism is self-love at its extreme. That is my good and bad quality. The bad quality is that if you are not narcissistic in nature, it is a problem in our profession as self-love is a necessary criteria. Everybody likes to talk about themselves and be seen around, apart from the screen. Perhaps, I could be a little more social, but being a single child right from my childhood, I have always relied on my own devices.

Apart from acting, what do you enjoy doing the most?

I love playing sports. One, it mentally cleanses your system. In sports, you can never become a star till you perform on the field. And if you score on the field, then you can reap any amount of benefits. Frankly , my life is not consumed by the film industry . So I take my work very seriously , but I don’t take myself very seriously . I find it ridiculous to pontificate and I don’t bear any grudge. I would hope that certain sanctity towards cinema is still kept. I find two kinds of things happening today, cinema and non-cinema. A collage of good things can’t be good cinema. You can’t play lawn tennis with a cricket bat. I have great respect for marketing. I think it’s a very creative job just as making a film is, but the problem is that one tries to bulldoze the other. Both these departments need to be kept mutually exclusive. I have a problem when marketing tries to get into the creative process of storytelling.

What kind of films do you consider examples of a good balance between good marketing and good cinema?

Paan Singh Tomar, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Queen, amongst many others. The genius of Raju Hirani, where you have content and everything falls correctly in place. If you are a refrigerator manufacturer and I am a marketing person and I come and say give it a little microwave effect here and a washing machine effect on the other side, a refrigerator does not remain a refrigerator anymore.So while I would still be marketing it as a fridge, in reality, I have destroyed it. I feel the so-called big blockbusters are examples of those, where the microwave oven may be the item song. It is not cinema anymore and is just a collage of many things put together.There are some mandatories in acting.One, you need to surrender your ego to it. While roles are finite, characters are infinite. The person that you are playing i.e. if I am playing Dinesh the cop, I am playing Dinesh and not the cop. The cop is only for the designation and the appearance. People often play roles, not people. If you do that, you will automatically be different as each person is different and surrendering your ego is so much essential for that. But today, tripling your personal ego on screen is called acting. There is nothing called external acting, which means that all that you act has to come from within.Each actor has that spectrum within him. I can understand when you research for historical characters, but why research for fictional ones as you land up doing mannerism shopping in that case.

An actor you admire?

I respect Aamir Khan a lot. He contributes a lot to cinema. I don’t think Delhi Belly or a Peepli Live would have got the eye balls it got, had he not contributed in the way he did. Also, he makes a lot of difference to the screenplay. You take the directors who have worked with him and see how then they have worked without him, be it in Lagaan or Rang De Basanti, and you know the difference.

Talk about your wife Nivedita?

She is also an actor and does theatre and TV . She understands me the best. I love the fact that she can be blunt and say things on my face and the fact that she puts my life in order. She does not do it like a duty , but she does it out of love.She doesn’t like my scattered brain kind of living. I have a tendency of letting my mind travel a lot rather than me travelling all the way . And she gives me that space. Life needs to have some eureka moments for me. I try not to hurt people and I am gentle. What’s beautiful about her is her tonality , where she is able to speak her mind and yet not hurt anyone.If I were to do that, I would have landed up hurting people.

Talk about your mentor Naseeruddin Shah?

As a human being, ever since I have interacted with him, I have only learnt.He is a fun guy and I like the fact that he is a moohphat. He has absolutely no false airs about himself. I remember we had to once perform Mahatma Vs Gandhi for the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan. So we all went in a bus there. We entered the first security gate, got down and had our checking done, then the same thing at the second gate. By the time we reached the third gate and were asked to do the same drill once again, Naseer blew his top. He said, ‘Who the hell does he think he is? Hum koi bhaand nahi hain.’ Suddenly the security guys came and everything was in order. And that did not come from any ego, but it came from deep selfrespect.Had he been a man of ego, he would have been a different man today . If somebody has invited you to perform somewhere, whoever he may be, you don’t make life difficult for him to enter your house. We ultimately reached inside, where the whole cabinet had come to watch and suddenly from outside I heard someone shout, `KK. Come here. Go there.’ I went outside to see who was shouting taking my name and discovered that there was this dark handsome sniffer dog whose name was also KK. I landed up shaking hands with him. Naseer doesn’t suffer fools and is brutally honest. He is often a misunderstood man.

 

Related posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: