After stirring performances in ‘Haider’ and the upcoming 'Saat Uchakkey', where he stars with Manoj Bajpayee, and 'Baby', Kay Kay Menon has confirmed to a wider audience that he is one of the top talents in Bollywood
By Shevlin Sebastian
In the second week of November, last year, Kay Kay Menon was shooting for a Navneet Bahal film called 'Sann 75', which is set during the Emergency (1975). For several days, the shoot took place at night, in a jungle, two hours from Lucknow.
Inside the forest, there was a huge banyan tree. “It was the size of two trees put together,” saysKay Kay. “I realised that this tree, which was hundreds of years old, must have seen people, of all kinds, from different ages. And it had spread its arms so wide, while we were doing the shoot within its confines. It was a magical moment for me.”
Kay Kay is going through some magical moments in recent times. Recently, he completed the shoot of a heist film called 'Saat Uchakkey', where he is pitted against Manoj Bajpayee. “It is great fun when you work with a brilliant actor like Manoj,” says Kay Kay. “There is so much of creative input and the level at which both of you operate is so high.” And word is out that he has done well in Neeraj Pandey's 'Baby', in which he stars with Akshay Kumar andRana Daggubati. The film will be released on January 23.
Kay Kay also impressed in last year's surprise hit, 'Haider', where he plays Tabu’s brother-in-law, Khurram, who lusts after her.
Asked whether he felt nervous about doing a film on the explosive subject of Kashmir, KayKay says, “Not at all. The fact that the film was set in Kashmir was not an issue. For me, my only criteria is whether a role is interesting or not.”
Kay Kay has been acclaimed for his interesting roles in 'Paach', 'Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, 'Black Friday', and 'Sarkar', among many other films. “I believe that, unlike the many blockbusters of today, these films will stand the test of time,” he says.
One reason for his impact is his ability to immerse himself in the role. And his method is simple, as well as difficult. “When you are acting, don’t play the role, but the person,” he says. “The roles are finite: you can be a policeman, lawyer or a crook. Instead, you must understand the character of the cop or the crook. And then play him.”
Another tip is linked to pride. “Try and surrender your ego when you are acting,” says Kay Kay. “Without doing that, you cannot take on a character.”
Kay Kay seems an unlikely person to make a mark in Bollywood. A middle-class Malayali, he grew up in Ambarnath and Pune, but remained in touch with his home state of Kerala in his childhood. During summer vacations, he would go to Kozhikode where his grandfather, Raghava Menon, a former Major, lived in a large house.
“I used to play cricket with my cousins,” he says. “The branch of a coconut tree was used as a bat. When I look back, those were happy times.”
After doing his MBA from the University of Pune, Kay Kay embarked, without hesitation, on a career in the arts. “When I was very young, one day, I realised that acting was my calling,” he says. “So I had no doubts. I was lucky that my parents did not raise any objections, even though I am an only child.”
And unlike most actors, Kay Kay does not look on his earlier years as a struggle. “People become anxious because they are unsure about their talent,” he says. “But I was always sure that I had a gift. I believe opportunity comes to everybody. It depends on how ready you are to accept it.”
Meanwhile, when asked about how Bollywood has changed over the years, KayKay smiles, and says, “Creatively, Bollywood always threatens to change. But they just come out with the same melodrama and songs, but in different forms. But the success of a film like ‘Haider’ gives hope to film-makers who want to try different things.”
Kay Kay has tried different things throughout his career. No surprises that, today, he is regarded as one of the top talents of Bollywood.
(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)