Actor Jayaram has been staying away from Malayalam cinema for the last three years, mostly appearing in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. The star now returns to Malayalam cinema with the medical thriller Abraham Ozler, which is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas of Anjaam Pathriaa (2020) fame, the film will see Jayaram play an aging insomniac police officer tasked with investigating a strange set of deaths promoted by a mysterious medical condition. Abraham Ozler also features Anaswara Rajan, Dileesh Pothan, Arya Salim, Jagadish and Arjun Ashok in the lead cast.
“Malayalam cinema is my homeground. I grew up here. It gave me a my life. So I have the liberty to go and come back from Malayalam cinema whenever I like,” he says in an interview with Film Companion. Recalling the reason why decided to stay away from Malayalam cinema for the past three years, the actor says, “This happened in 2020 when the whole world was shut down and all of us stayed at home. I usually discuss everything with my wife and kids. It was my wife and son who told me to take a momentary break from Malayalam and wait for a good project to come my way."
When asked about his initial response to the offer to play the lead role in Abraham Ozler, Jayaram admits his reluctance to commit to the project at first , “I was still waiting for a good project and it was during that time when Midhun Manuel Thomas narrated this story to me. When I heard the title, I asked him if this was an action film and he told me that it wasn't. There is no action in the film. If that was the case, there are many films coming out in different languages where Malayalees get to see action right? Why would they want to see Jayaram at this age doing action on screen anyway?”
The actor adds, “This is a crime thriller and an emotional drama wrapped into one. I really liked his first narration and it’s a meaty role too. I asked Midhun if I was the right fit for the role and he said he was confident about moulding me as per his vision.” Jayaram goes to share his thought process for his script choices after a series of underperforming films in filmography of late. “I am luckily in a place where I don't have to commit to projects just for survival. But even if it's one film a year or one film in two years, I wanted to make sure of the quality of those films. The box office fate of the films will be anyway decided by the audiences and we have no say in it, but I only want to be a part of films I am confident in. That’s why I agreed to do the part in Ozler.”
However it was not all smooth sailing for the actor preparing for the role, Jayaram adds, “ I was reluctant even after Midhun’s narration because this was unlike any film I have done till now. It’s a heavy character with a tragic backstory and I have to appear in two timelines in the films with different looks. It was a tough decision for me to make at that point. But Midhun Manuel Thomas, my director, was convinced that I was the only one he had in mind for this role and he would shelve the project if I rejected the part. That made me say yes instantly. So I put on some weight and grew a long beard with a tired look to fit the character’s arc in the story. I asked Midhun to treat me like a new actor and mould the performance out of me like he wants.”
Jayaram is one of the busiest supporting actors in Telugu and Tamil, with a handful of projects under his belt. Speaking about the choice to focus more on other language films, the actor says, “For me when I am working on my home turf, there should be something special for me to do. So working in other languages gives me the option to really wait for the good script in Malayalam. Otherwise, I have been getting many offers in Malayalam for the past few years but I turned most of them down. I could have easily done ten films in Malayalam in the last 4 years if that was not the case. I don't worry much about my image.”
Jayaram goes on to share his expectations of his upcoming role in the Mahesh Babu starrer Guntur Kaaram, “ I am working with director Trivikram again for Guntur Kaaram alongside Mahesh Babu. Like my role in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020) this film will also have many emotional scenes that I am looking forward to and it is a very interesting character.”