Naveen Polishetty plays a hilarious private detective in Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya, Suriya plays a watch mechanic in 24 and Santhanam plays a marriage car agent in OKOK—unusual and interesting professions for our films. We list twenty characters from Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam films with unusual occupations that make them interesting.
Mani (Suriya) is a "watch mechanic". And everything is sarva saadhaaranam (too easy) for him because he plays with the concept of time. 24 is a science-fiction thriller where Suriya stars in three roles. It's fun to watch Mani employ his fingers to repair watches since he keeps going back in time to experiment with the happenings in the past. He's like a kid in a waterpark.
In all these three films, the leading men play private detectives. While the treatments are different for each of the movies, the outcome is the same. The men (played by Ashok Selvan, Naveen Polishetty, and Rishab Shetty) are so good at their respective jobs that they neatly complete the tasks given to them. Though Shetty stars as a police constable in Bell Bottom, he works as an outsider to solve the crimes.
Dhanush trains roosters for cockfights in Aadukalam and his stunning performance won him a National Film Award for Best Actor. This Vetrimaran film is a searing portrayal of what greed and jealousy can do to humans – it makes them do unimaginable things to score petty points against their rivals.
Santhanam is absolutely fun in OKOK. There's no doubt about his ability to draw laughs even with the slightest of his expressions. But the best part about the movie is his job, for he drives a janavasam car – an open-top car which is a key feature in wedding processions. His car must smell great since it's always decorated with flowers.
Vijay Sethupathi plays a professional kidnapper in Soodhu Kavvum. Even though his methods are raw and silly, he still manages to make a decent living. Sometimes he gets beaten up by the very people he tries to kidnap. He reads about the stories of other kidnappings in newspapers regularly so that he can teach himself how to excel at his work. And he strictly follows five rules to stay away from the radar of cops.
Vijay spends a few years of his life incognito with his daughter as baker in Theri, an usual sidegig for a deputy commissioner of police. It's also something Bommi does in Soorarai Pottru, where she builds her independent bakery chain while her husband builds his airline business.
Vikram Prabhu plays a mahout who has a special connection with his elephant. Director Prabhu Solomon makes the relationship between them central to the film, even more so than the hero's romantic interest. There's also a lot of detailing, like how the character interacts with the elephant and even how he mounts it.
In Mani Ratnam's OK Kanmani, Dulquer Salmaan plays a game designer and something of his gamer attitude seeps into everything he does: his work and even his relationship with his girlfriend, Tara (Nithya Menen). Nothing is serious for him, because it's just a name.
Samantha plays a miniature artiste in this SS Rajamouli blockbuster. Although Kushboo plays one in Michael Madana Kamarajan (remember the rice grain with the Taj Mahal painted on it?), Samantha's precession is linked more directly to the script and its Hexapod hero.
In this Adoor Gopalkrishnan classic, its protagonist Kaliyappan (Oduvil Unnikrishnan) plays a hangman, the last of his lineage. From staying up all night before an execution to his alcoholic tendencies, the film gives us an insight into the draining nature of the profession.
Dileep plays a circus clown in this Lohithadas' film. Along with his mentor played by Bahadur, we see the pain one has to endure in their duty to entertain people. Their work ethic and his predicament when he has to perform just minutes after his mentor's death remains a lasting, painful scene from the film.
Dileep already played a mix of a private detective and a police dog trainer in his superhit film CID Moosa. But in Ringmaster, he takes the job to the next level when he becomes a well paid professional dog trainer in charge of a celebrity dog named Diana (also the name of an actress in the film). It gets even more interesting when he has to make this dog "act".
Both lead characters of this Ashiq Abu film work in very interesting professions. Kalidas (Lal) works for the state archaeological department, with a fascination for antiques. His lover Maya plays a dubbing artiste working in movies with the film showing us interesting aspects of both professions.
Prithviraj has played many interesting characters in his films. One of these includes the job of a stuntmaster named 'Tarzan' Antony in Dipan's Hero. In charge of all the stunt scenes in a film, he also has the duty to take care of his master, who is in need of money.
In this excellent Prithviraj horror film, the script requires a good 15 minutes to explain what he does in it. It's really complicated and involves risks that can destroy an entire city, but it also raises the bar for the film when such a calamity can be avoided only by its hero.
Sreenath Bhasi plays Andrew, an ethical hacker in this psycho thriller. Among the first such portrayals in mainstream Malayalam cinema, the character gets the role of a new age hero but without the typical trappings or actions scenes.
Mohanlal plays a rich florist in this film set in Dubai. He's also a playboy with love interests across the world but it's the flower business that makes his personality more colourful in this 2012 dud.
In the 2013 Kannada film directed by Pawan Kumar (and its Tamil remake), the protagonist has a double life. One of them, Nikki, works as an usher in a small movie theatre, shining his torch to help people find their seats. Add insomnia and a secret pill that gives him his dream life and his profession seems more fitting that before
The protagonist of this 2016 dark comedy drives a van and is employed at the local crematorium. Played by Jaggesh, the character drives around a hearse and this adds an extra layer to his personality in a film that's about two older men becoming friends (and more) with women much younger than them.
There are several films with sex workers as central or side characters, but the male equivalent is extremely rare in our movies. Arishadvarga is one exception with one of its main characters, Anish, playing an aspiring actor who has to make ends meet by working as a male escort. It's this profession that finally lands him in trouble, when he finds himself as a witness of a major crime.