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Kalidas Jayaram: The method actor

Kalidas Jayaram won his first national award when he was only 10. Now 29, he is known to put in a lot of effort for any role he takes up, to make his eventual onscreen performance look effortless. From Thangam to Putham Pudhu Kaalai, and Vikram, Natchathiram, and OTT series Paper Rocket, he's come a long way

Divya J Shekhar
Published: Feb 10, 2023 11:43:48 AM IST
Updated: Feb 13, 2023 11:22:21 AM IST

Kalidas Jayaram: The method actorKalidas Jayaram Image: Mexy Xavier; Light painting: Neha Mithbawkar

Kalidas Jayaram | 29

Kalidas Jayaram was 10 when he won his first National Award as an actor for his performance in the Malayalam movie Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum (2003). It was on the sets of this film that he learnt how to act. He was taught by director Sibi Malayil and his father, actor Jayaram, who also plays his parent in the film. Many years later, in 2020, the lessons learnt as a child artiste would turn the fortunes around for Kalidas, now 29.

The actor, who took a break till 2016 to complete his studies, had a largely forgettable career after that. He was planning to quit, when he was offered the role of Sathaar, a trans person, in Thangam for Netflix’s anthology Paava Kadhaigal in 2020. Sathaar is ostracised by his family and community because he is queer. Kalidas remembered the feeling of sadness, abandonment and need for validation that he had channelised as a kid for Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum. And this time too, it touched the right chord with the audience and critics.

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“Kalidas is a sensitive boy. He truly feels the emotions of the character,” says Sudha Kongara, who directed Thangam. She says that to prepare for his role, Kalidas attended workshops with transgender individuals. He was so affected by their stories that “he had to keep going to a counsellor after his workshops. In fact, he wanted to quit midway”, says Kongara, who also directed him in the anthology Putham Pudhu Kaalai for Amazon Prime Video in 2020. She adds that, while Kalidas puts in a lot of work for his roles, “he is an honest and effortless performer”.

View the full list of Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023 here

Kalidas has entered 2023 with a kitty full of five-six projects in Tamil and Malayalam. The last two years saw him work with some of the best artistes and filmmakers in the industry. Among his films in 2022 were Vikram, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, and he also played the lead in OTT series Paper Rocket.

Kalidas Jayaram: The method actor

Kalidas, who says “acting is therapy”, wants to just go with the flow and pick up scripts that help him display his versatility. He goes by one advice he got from his senior Thalapathy Vijay. “He told some people worship the river, some people throw stones at it. But the river is unconcerned, it just keeps flowing. So my job is to just keep flowing like the river.”

(This story appears in the 10 February, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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