I Don’t Like Portraying Fathers As Negative Characters: Gautham Menon

“When I go to a set as an actor, I completely switch off the director mode,” says Gautham Menon
Gautham Menon
Gautham Menon

The trailer of Anuragam opens with Gautham Vasudev Menon’s voiceover. He speaks like the many characters in the films he directed; with gentle pauses, while reflecting on his actions — “Na romba…thappaanavan la…thappu paniten la (I am a very…bad person, right?...I did a mistake, right?)”. And he has more surprises in store for us in the film: he plays the guitar and sings a song too. 

“I am like this off the screen. But this is the first time I am playing such a character on screen. It is different from the usual cop roles or negative characters,” Gautham says. He plays a father who gets a second shot at love in this Malayalam entertainer directed by Shahad and penned by Aswin Jose.

Gautham in a still from Anuragam
Gautham in a still from Anuragam

The film is a sweet take on today’s romance, the director-turned-actor says, adding that he was amused when Shahad first told him he has to play guitar and sing a song in the film. “I really liked the story, and switching between directing and acting was easy.” But what Gautham did find difficult was managing the dates as he shuttled between Chennai and Kochi for Simbu’s Vendhu Thanindadhu Kaadu and Anuragam. “The team wanted at least 10 to 15 days at a stretch. I had difficulty providing that because I had to come back and do my duties as a director, and there were a lot of production plans. So, whenever there was a break, I was giving dates to Shahad. But, irrespective of all this, there was something about the film and the team that made me want to do this.”

Gautham, who plays a loving father in Anuragam, has directed many iconic father characters in films like Vaaranam Aayiram (2008) and Yennai Arindhal (2015). Speaking about those, he says he always draws inspiration from his own life. “I am conditioned to writing only loving and caring fathers. It is because of everything that happened to me. My father has a strong presence in my life. So, I don’t like to portray fathers as negative characters. However, I did that recently in a film of mine and it took me a week to get over that idea itself. I even tried to change that in the edit. So, whenever I write or act such characters, I imbibe a lot from how it was for me and my father.”

For someone who is constantly juggling filmmaking and acting, the director in him takes a back seat when he begins to act. “When I go to a set as an actor, I completely switch off the director mode because it is out of my comfort zone. When I wake up, I am thinking that I am an actor today. So, I will just do whatever the makers ask me to and talk to them if any scenes are out of my comfort zone. But no one has asked my suggestion and neither have I pointed out any issues. I step back and say that is not my job.”

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