Born to movie star parents Jayaram Subramaniam and Parvathy Jayaram, Kalidas Jayaram has been acting since the tender age of seven.
“My debut came about by accident. The kid who was supposed to act in Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal (2000) fell ill. I was offered the part at the last moment, and it worked out well for me. I didn’t know the medium and innocently agreed to the offer. But soon, I discovered it was not a simple job, and you needed to work hard.”
“I even remember my first shot in Goa,” Kalidas smiles. “I run towards a lorry and shout ‘Jose Uncle!’ After the take, everyone started clapping, though I didn’t know why. It turned out it was because my shot was finalised in just one take. That was my first introduction to cinema.”
The boy wonder became an instant sensation and even won the National Award for Best Child Artist in 2005 for his second Malayalam film, Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum.
“I played my dad’s son in this movie. It dealt with sibling rivalry, where the older brother is jealous of his younger sibling and eventually murders him. He ends up going to a juvenile home. It’s a very dark place. I was only nine at the time. After the movie was released, my sister kept away from me for a year. She was scared because I was aggressive in the movie,” he recounts in amusement.
But the downfall of being such a popular child actor, as can be expected, was that it began to affect Kalidas’ studies, prompting him to take a break from celluloid to complete his education. He graduated in business and commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.
And then began his second innings in the billion-dollar industry. Soon, Kalidas was approached for his first film as a lead actor in a Tamil movie, Oru Pakka Kathai.
“Sadly, it didn’t get released for six years as the producers felt it was not commercially viable at the time. But when it finally hit the screens in 2020, it went on to become a big hit. So, my debut was really another Tamil movie, Meen Kuzhambum Mann Paanaiyum, which ironically became my first release in 2016. It did pretty well, too.”
While most young actors would be intimidated about acting with superstars like Prabhu and Kamal Hassan in their first film, Kalidas was pretty level-headed, he admits.
“I was not intimidated as I had been seeing them since my childhood. But at the same time, I was a tad nervous because you never know how one is at their workplace. So I was careful to give them space and maintain a good working equation with both of them.”
However, the highs didn’t last too long. After his next few films performed poorly at the box office, he pursued a year-long theatre course at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, Los Angeles. Disheartened by the substandard numbers, Kalidas had decided to quit acting. However, the universe had a different plan for him — he was destined for cinema.
Producer Sudha Kongara offered him the script of Paava Kadhaigal and urged him to give it a read, even though he insisted he was not interested in movies any longer.
“When I read the script, I realised I had to do this movie,” the 29-year- old shares. “The good thing is that Igotalotoftimetoprepformy role while in Los Angeles. I shot for the movie after I returned to India, and it was released in 2020. Fortunately, there’s been no turning back since then.”
Given the peaks and valleys of this young man’s journey, we wonder out loud what he had learnt from failure. A lot more than success, we learn.
“Failure taught me more than success. It’s been my biggest teacher. I learnt to be patient and believe that the right things happen at the right time, no matter how much you stress. And finally, it’s important to do your job out of passion, not for fame and money,” says Kalidas, who’s geared up to shoot for two Tamil films in the near future, with Kamal Hassan and Dhanush.
Outside the world of cinema, this actor loves to travel. “Kenya, Masai Mara, Dubai and the Maldives are some interesting places I’ve been to,” he shares.
He’s also a through-and-through foodie, which makes looking his best for the big screen a challenge.
“I love experimenting with different cuisines, but now that I’m in films, I have to manage my weight. Ideally, though, it shouldn’t be that way as acting should be more performance based,” he confesses.
He rounds off our chat sharing what keeps him real and grounded despite his early fame: “We don’t discuss cinema at home since we shoot 24x7. We keep things ‘normal’ in the house.”