Actor Jai makes his OTT debut with comedy series Triples, directed by Charukesh Sekar and presented by director Karthik Subbaraj. The show, which premieres on December 11 on Disney+Hotstar, is said to be set in the Crazy Mohan world of humour. Excerpts from an interview with Satvik Kumar.
Earlier, a move from films to the small screen space was considered a step-down. Post streaming culture, that difference does not exist. Did you have any doubts about taking this step from films to OTT?
The trend of releasing movies through the OTT platforms was a way of adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an actor, I believe we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to a specific platform. The current generation is aware of the difference between a television soap and web series and the standards set by these web series.
How different are the roles you get for web series compared to movies? Does the same A and B centre analysis figure here too?
I don’t think web series can be segregated into A, B and C centres like the movies. Since this series is being aired on a platform such as Disney+Hotstar, which already has a subscriber base in urban and rural centres, the worry of reaching out is lesser, when compared to a theatrical release. The content accessibility of a web series is easier. I chose a web series in the genre of humour, because we are all going through uncertain times and a humourous subject will help cheer up people.
So, will you do a web series with a darker theme?
Though I am very interested to be part of a series that has a dark storyline, currently, I’d like to do lighter subjects with a feel-good factor, since that’s the need of the hour, with all the challenges that people are going through.
You have acted in unconventional roles in films such as Subramaniapuram, Engeyum Eppodhum and Aval Peyar Thamizharasi. Are you still open to doing such roles?
My consideration for specific subjects is only limited to web series. When it comes to theatrical releases, I am always open to unconventional roles and will explore various genres. Even in my next film, my character has two different tones. I don’t limit myself, and enjoy roles that are challenging and require a certain physical effort.
How difficult is it to stay in character for films and the OTT series space?
While shooting for films, there is a need to shift characters from one film to another. You might be playing a rugged person in one and a timid character in another. This applies to a series also. But for Triples, I wasn’t committed to any film project, and was completely engaged in shooting for the series, and finished it in one schedule.
The runtime of a film might last not more than three hours, but a series is more spread out. After years of working in films, did it take time to get used to the length of an OTT series?
We were already provided with the duration for this series — eight episodes with a runtime of 25 minutes an episode. Hence the total series duration is about 3 hours 30 minutes, which is just 50 mins more than a regular film. So, it was similar to shooting a movie, but we probably shot for an additional 10 days.
From the trailer, it appears this is an ode to Crazy Mohan sir’s works. What’s the vibe of Triples like?
Crazy Mohan has been a huge inspiration for many comedy movies. I love his work in Pammal K Sambandam and Michael, Madana Kama Rajan. We have tried to incorporate Crazy Mohan sir’s trademark wordplay in a subject that is relevant to the current generation. Karthik Subbaraj and director Charukesh Sekar are proud fans of Crazy Mohan sir, and this is our tribute.
Jai, you are very familiar with the comedy space. How different is your character Ram in Triples from your other films?
Most of my characters in comedies have been more of a boy-next-door or someone in their early 20s. in Triples, I play a character who is a little evolved in his thoughts. Though it is a comedy subject, the character has a certain maturity.
You have acted in close to 25 films across genres. Is there a genre that you are yearning to be a part of?
I have a keen interest to play an anti-hero character in line with Sigappu Rojakkal [Kamal Haasan] and Kaadhal Kondein [Dhanush]. I have been preparing to do such roles and am currently looking for the right script.
Which director would you like to collaborate with?
I have always been fortunate to be associated with people who turned out to be good friends. Be it Atlee for Raja Rani or Venkat Prabhu for Chennai 28 and Sasikumar for Subramaniapuram. In particular, I would like to work with Sasikumar again and I have been asking him about his next directorial venture.
You are well known for your collaboration with Venkat Prabhu, How did this collaboration with Karthik Subbaraj happen?
I was always interested to work with Karthik Subbaraj after watching Jigarthanda. About three years ago, I was approached by his production house Stone Bench for a few projects, but nothing materialised due to various factors. This time, however, things fell in place. The story also captured my interest, and so, I didn’t miss the opportunity.