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This article was first published 13 years ago

From a comedian to a hero!

Last updated on: February 3, 2011 10:57 IST

Image: A scene from Kal Manja
Shruti Indira Lakshminarayana in Bangalore

After completing his LLB, Komal Kumar ventured into cinema. The comedy actor is today an asset to the Kannada film industry.

On the eve of the release of his second home production Kal Manja, Komal traces his 18-year-old journey from a comedian to hero.Excerpts:

What is Kal Manja about?

Super hit film Apthamitra saw the audience getting scared, whereas in Kal Manja, you'll see characters in the film scaring each other. But the situations are going to be funny.

The film is on the lines of the Scary Movie series. Kal Manja is inspired by the hit Malayalam film Chadikatha Chandu. Parts of the story takes place on a film set as well and you'll get to hear a lot of witty one liners that will reveal the exchanges that generally take place between a director and his crew of technicians, action and dance masters. But of course all this is done in good humour.

What role do you play in the film?

I play a very innocent man in the film. But despite me being genuine, people feel that I am not a straight forward guy. The film also takes a new turn when a love letter assumed to be written by my character saves the life of a girl.

Kal Manja has two heroines, Aishwarya Nag and Udayathara.

'We later came to know that 25 people committed suicide in the house we shot in'

Image: A scene from Kaj Manja

There is a song, Komal mast Kamal penned around your name. Self indulgence, should we say?

This was exactly my opinion when the music director suggested that a song be written on me. I was more for a song that would be as fanciful as the one picturised on Akshay Kumar in De Dhana Dhan. But later I changed my mind as this concept was sitting well with the plot. The song is not there for the heck of boosting my image. You will also notice that every time my heroines praise me in the song, I ask them if they are not overdoing their flattery.

Speaking of songs, there is one more that we shot in Kutch where Telugu film Magadheera was shot. In fact I decided to shoot a song there after seeing a Gujarat tourism advertisement featuring Amitabh Bachchan. He says in the advertisment 'Kutch nahi dekha toh kuch nahi dekha ' So I was like we should go there and explore. The song has shaped up well.

Where else have you shot the film?

While we have shot across the state, an incident that took place at a house, which belonged to the times when kings ruled Mysore, was most interesting. We were shooting some horror scenes in the house and it was our last day of shoot. That day coincided with amavasya and we heard weird noises and dogs barking. Later on we came to know that 25 people had committed suicide in that house. Thank God we returned safely.

'My films garner the highest TRPs when screened on television'

Image: A scene from Kal Manja

Director Guruprasad is in your film. Does that mean all is well between the two of you following your walk out from his Director's Special?

So what if I didn't act in Director's Special? He is playing a special role in my film -- that of a director and yes, we have sorted out our differences. He was in fact very impressed with my performance in Kal Manja and showed interest in making a film with me. I'm thrilled by this as he is a hit director with a lot of talent. By this year end, we may start work on a film.

What are your other projects?

There is Maryade Ramanna and I have offers to act as lead hero in four films including the one being produced by Confident Group.

Now that you are doing lead roles, will you bid your comedian status goodbye?

I've done just four to five films as lead hero and there is still a long way to go. What I'm focusing on is making good films. This is the reason I have started my own production house. My films garner the highest TRPs when screened on television and my aim is to pull the same amount of audience to the theatre.

Also, I will continue to do character roles. But they should be meaty ones and not the kind where I'm made to look like a clown in two or three scenes! I'm no longer going to be misused or under utilised.

Also, I considered doing lead roles as I wanted to bring out different emotions in the actor in me. It's one thing to make people laugh, but what stays in the minds of people are other emotions. For instance, take the role I played in Tavarige Baa Tangi. I remember people crying when they saw me crying on screen. I can fight, dance and emote, maybe I lack the conventional styles, but I have it in me to play a lead role.

Also, some lead heroes have expressed unwillingness to work with me as they feel I hog more limelight in our combination scenes. This helped me realise my true worth and here I am today.

'I have never done films for money'

Image: A scene from Kal Manja

You said you were under utilised. Do you regret having done any film?

I'm not for postmortem, but yes, there have been instances where I have been misled. The story narrated to me at times would lack correlation with the end product! See, I have never done films for money. It's not that you get paid heavily anyway. Quality is what matters to me. At the end of the day it gives me a high to see audience whistle and clap for me. I will strive to make good cinema for that purpose. 

Has the poor response to your recent solo hero film Wah Re Wah done harm to your new found confidence?

I maintain that the story was good and I am very happy with my performance. Maybe the film should have been marketed better. But I'll assure you, when it is telecast on TV, it will get a large viewership.

Are you saying marketing is the key to a film's success?

Definitely. That's why I'm trying to promote Kal Manja vigorously and innovatively.

Do you think you have got your due in this industry?

Appreciation is not something that you get easily here. But there have been instances where I have been commended for my work. Famed director P Vasu after watching me in Aptharakshaka said that I'm a combination of Tamil comedians Vadivelu and Vivek. He, in fact wanted to cast me in Telugu film Nagavalli, but that didn't work out. He may soon introduce me in Tamil though.

Coming back to the question, yes there have been ups and downs. But I'm looking to reach the top and the day I get there I'm sure the pains I've gone through will seem insignificant.

'My combination with Darshan works well'

Image: A scene from Kal Manja

Did having Jaggesh, an established actor, for a brother make your journey smoother?

Well, the entry was easy and that's about it. It's all about one's performance, after that. Despite having a Godfather like Yash Chopra, Uday Chopra is yet to make a significant mark, right?

Which actor do you think you share a good comic timing with?

My combination with Darshan works well. Ganesh, Puneet, Shivanna and I also shared a hassle-free work relationship.

You have worked with Jaggesh as well. Does it feel any different?

No. When it comes to films, he is also just another co-actor. I just concentrate on giving hundred percent to my role. Take Kal Manja for example, I was so involved in my role in Kal Manja that when my 81-year-old father watched a scene where I have to fall at people's feet, he said, please don't fall at everyone's feet like that. He was pained by the act!  

If you produce a film for Jaggesh, what would you cast him as?

I would first work towards toning down his body language. I would like to cast him in a negative role. I think the villain in him remains to be explored.

'In Kal Manja you'll see me rebuking myself for making a remake'

Image: A scene from Kal Manja

What do you think of Jaggesh as a politician?

He has the interests of the people in mind. But then again politics is not about individuals. Also, it is difficult for good people to survive politics.

Have you considered entering politics?

No way. Politics and I are opposites. But I do urge people to vote. 

Getting back to films, why do you think we have so many remakes?

That's because we lack script writers who can give useful and critical inputs.

Is that why you have also resorted to remakes (Chamkaisi Chindi Udaisi, Wah Re Wah, Kal Manja and Maryade Ramanna)?

I planned a film called Nandeesha and spent nearly Rs 9 lakhs on it. But later I decided to shelve the project as the story lacked proper development. I didn't find the right people to assist me in script discussions. I had spent six months on the project and nothing came off it. Thus I took up a hit film.

I'm not justifying remakes and I do agree that we need more straight subjects. In Kal Manja you'll see me rebuking myself also for making a remake.

Who are your inspirations as an actor?

Charlie Chaplin, Rajnikanth, Mohan Lal and Narasimha Raju.