Playing By His Own Rules – Jayasurya Opens Up !

Mollywood’s very own, Jayasurya talks of his journey in Cinema, his fears and dream roles 

He is perceived as a star who has risen from the masses; probably because of the heart touching characters he has portrayed or simply because of the earnestness with which he performs on screen. He has managed to not just capture hearts with memorable performances but has also made Kerala proud by winning the National award among many other prestigious accolades. RITZ is in conversation with Mollywood’s very own, Jayasurya, as he opens up about his journey thus far, his thoughts about Cinema, his fears and dream roles.

Interview: Riya Sonny Datson

Photography: Shafi Shakkeer

Photography Team: Anoop, Anwar, Hadil, Fayas

Styling: Arjun Vasudev

Costume: Lifestyle , Lulu fashion Store

Footwear: Steve Madden

Automobile Courtesy: Porsche Center, Kochi

Venue: Four Points By Sheraton, Kochi Infopark

How did you recognise that Cinema is your calling?

I have always loved Cinema but if you ask me about recognising it as a calling, I would say I had no clue back then. When I started out, I didn’t know what lay ahead or if acting would be my future. But I yearned to face the camera so I never missed any opportunity to be a part of Cinema. I have worked as a junior artist and have done small roles in a number of films. Eventually, I got an opportunity to work as a dubbing artist, later as a mimicry artist, and then as an anchor, after which I bagged my first lead role.

Of late, you are very selective about your roles, how does a role excite you?

It was Cinema that excited me initially. Then, at one point, I felt I needed to work with top directors and big banners. But now, I feel the need to do good characters and work with a good team.  There was a time when I did 10 -12 movies a year but now, I have limited myself to doing quality work, even if it means doing only two movies a year. But the roles I choose would be the ones that I have full faith in.  It might succeed or fail, that doesn’t bother me but it has to be something I believe in.  Even if the screen time is limited, the scope for performance is what matters. Your character needs to leave a mark in the story. So, at the end of the day, I have to be convinced about the story, the character, the banner, the scope for performance – everything adds up and that is the reason why I choose to do fewer roles now.

Most of your recent projects have portrayed very raw intense emotions which may not be perceived as ‘heroic’, what inspires you to portray them?

When you get under the skin of the character, it happens automatically. You are the character and behave like them, it doesn’t need any inspiration. I believe that acting is a craft that requires one to completely submit their mind, body and soul to it. Otherwise it becomes mere imitation and ‘imitation is a limitation’. Even while doing the role of Marykutty, which was the toughest role I have done so far, I remember thinking like a woman and sensing the emotions of a woman and yet, I needed to also understand the emotions of a man. It was a character that went through a lot of trauma. Looking back now, I don’t even recall how I thought or what I did at that point. Once the shoot is over, I am out of the character.

How do you snap out of the character so easily?

When you subconsciously believe in a physical activity and do it repeatedly, it becomes a pattern, just like driving. It doesn’t require much thinking. In acting, I am mentally and emotionally involved with the character and start to think and behave like the character.  Once the director says ‘it is a wrap’, I snap out of it. It is as simple as setting aside a file but I believe that I still have all the ‘files’ of the characters I have portrayed inside me. I don’t let it go completely and I like to keep it that way. It is easy to step out of a character. Stepping into the character is more difficult.

So you don’t believe in spontaneous acting?

No. As far as I know, no matter which industry you are in, you can never act spontaneously. There has to be a certain level of preparation and homework. How can you enact a character without really understanding the character? Once you have done a thorough study, then the acting can come spontaneously. That is different. Between the time when the director says ‘action’ and ‘cut’, there are moments where you completely forget yourself and perform, that is what I call spontaneity. I believe that it is a gift of God and one can never achieve it through self- confidence alone.

I believe that the audience perceive you as a ‘Thinking  actor’ because of your choice of roles. Do you think that is the reason behind your mass appeal?

Maybe…Like I said, unless the film excites me, I don’t believe in taking up the project. It is not about the number of projects or the money involved but it is the satisfaction that counts.

Looking back, how do you see your journey thus far?

I think I have made a lot of mistakes but am glad that it has happened that way. I might still be making mistakes but it’s all a learning. At the end of the day, it is all about one’s perception. I don’t want to believe that my career has a destination. Because if I have a destination, that means I will have to stop there but I don’t want to stop anywhere. Each point is a new beginning.

Do you find any aspect of Cinema challenging?

I don’t see any part of it as a challenge. Once you are walking in the character’s shoes, then it is an exploration or a journey, the rest happens automatically.

Any fears when it comes to Cinema?

There is always a tension before starting the shoot for a new film and of course, the day before the release of my film.

What is your rejuvenation mantra?

I like to travel with my family. I also enjoy the ‘Me time’ that I get when I am sitting at my favourite hang-out, sipping a cup of coffee all by myself. I believe that all of us need to spend time with ourselves everyday even if it is for a few minutes, to understand ourselves and to let go of any negativity.

If not Cinema, then?

I am still not sure if I am destined for Cinema. I love traveling to peaceful destinations, so if not Cinema, maybe something on those lines….I am very attached to my family and I find joy in being a part of their lives. I don’t know what destiny has in store for me but I will take it as it comes.

Your son is doing short films that is garnering much appreciation. Will he follow your footsteps?

I see a lot of myself in my son, sometimes even my mistakes. I never interfere in his creativity or his opinions but yes, I guide him with whatever support he needs. He might make mistakes but that’s ok but he has to be independent when it comes to taking his own decisions.

Any dream roles or dream projects?

Dream role would be doing a role like Jesus in ‘Passion of Christ’. In terms of projects, I would love to convert all my projects into dream projects.

Are you very conscious of fitness?

Yes, I am conscious about fitness and make sure that I work out and follow a diet. I have now started to do boxing as well. I believe that if you keep dreaming or continue to learn something new, you never grow old!

Considering the recent unrest in Mollywood, is there a need for change in the industry?

Yes there is a need for change. But in my opinion, if one has issues within a family, one must try to resolve it within the family itself. We have a platform to address issues in the industry and I think if we try to be more open about discussing issues, every problem can be sorted out amicably.

Any plans to join Politics?

No, I have no desire to join politics. There are definitely changes required around us and I would like to see them being made but I am not sure if I can make a difference by stepping into politics.

What about film Direction?

Maybe in future but I am keener on writing than in direction.

Tell us about your next release, Pretham 2?

Pretham 2 is a Christmas release. When one sees the trailer, there are frames and shots in the film that might seem familiar but the story is completely different from what one has seen before. I am playing the role of a mentalist like in the first part but in a different setting and story altogether.

Rapid Fire:

  • A Perfect Holiday: Every family holiday!
  • A movie close to your heart: Njan Marykutty, Beautiful
  • A Beautiful Moment Is: The vision you see when you close your eyes!
  • I admire: A Good Soul
  • People Don’t know that: I am searching for myself!
  • Success Is: Just a result
  • Favourite Dish: I love food, no favourites!
  • Favourite Perfume: 212
  • Memorable Movie: Onnu Muthal Poojyam Varey
  • I can’t do without: My Soul
  • I want to be known as: A Good Human Being