The recent trailer launch of mega movie ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ at Chennai was a star-studded event that saw many A-listers of Tollywood including Kamal Haasan, Rajinikant, Suhasini, Mani Ratnam, Trisha, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Parthipan and Shankar in attendance. However, it was Malayali actor Jayaram who stole the show with his excellent imitation of the voice of Mani Ratnam and many other prominent actors. The veteran proved that the art form is still his forte. Meanwhile, in a candid chat with Manorama, Jayaram, who plays the role of Azhwarkadiyan Nambi in the movie, reveals how he is still able to shine as one of the greatest mimicry artists in his generation.
You still haven’t lost your touch? How is it possible?
I really don’t have an answer for that. Wherever I go, people ask me to do mimicry. At the shooting locations, I don’t spend too much time inside the caravan. So, I am able to observe many kinds of people. If I hear a unique voice, I try to imitate them; but, I don’t practise regularly. I like observing people, especially while travelling. After reaching home, when I tell Aswathy (Parvathy Jayaram) about what they told me, I try to speak in their voice. For instance, I would be speaking in Maniyanpillai Raju’s voice if I am telling her something that Raju had told me. This isn’t intentional and comes to me naturally. Kalidas does the same too. Meanwhile, Malavika amazingly imitates others. I think it is a ‘hereditary illness’. I would stop doing this if someone tell me it isn’t entertaining anymore.
What about your performance during the ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ trailer launch event?
I was asked to say a few words during the trailer launch event. However, the program got delayed a bit. Mani Ratnam then asked me whether I could share some incidents from the sets in a unique manner. I told him if I did that then I would have to imitate him. He readily agreed. I sought actor Prabhu’s permission on stage before imitating his voice. When the video became viral, people began asking me to imitate Mani Ratnam where ever I go. On the next day of the event in Chennai, I flew to Hyderabad. As I was having breakfast there, Mammootty came to me and hugged me and said, ‘You were amazing at the event’. After sometime when I went to his room, I saw that he was watching my performance over and over again on his projector. He couldn’t stop laughing saying that my impression of Mani Ratnam was perfect.
The way you imitate Prem Nazir is quite famous.
Once, in an airplane, his son Shanavas sat near me. He told me, ‘I have seen a lot of people imitating my father. But, when you imitate his voice I close my eyes and listen. You do it so perfectly. I have missed him a lot during my childhood. He was always busy with shooting.’
I then asked him to close his eyes. I then spoke to him in Nazir’s voice, ‘Shanu, I got the news of your birth at a shooting location. Son, I couldn’t spend time with you or shower love on you. I wasn’t there even when your first film was released. Won’t you forgive your Papa.’ When I stopped, I saw that Shanu was crying. That was one of the happiest moments in my life.
Will you now imitate Sanju?
Cricketer Sanju Samson and his wife Charulatha visited us at our home in Chennai. I have observed Sanju well. After he came home, I spoke to Aswathy in Sanju’s voice. Some more fine-tuning is required. After I get it right, I would make Charulatha listen to it first. If Charu says ok, then soon ‘Sanju’ will be on stage.