“I am in the minds of people, not in their heads. So whatever negative publicity surrounds me wouldn’t put me out of their minds. People who know me would never be affected by any of it,” said K.B.
Ganesh Kumar, standing at the Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, in Thiruvananthapuram, where he came to attend the pooja of the film Mizhithurakku in which he plays the hero.
He pauses as friends and fans come to pose next to him and wish him all the best. They are among those who stood with him when he went through a divorce, through controversies about ill-treating his ex-wife and when he went out of the ministry. But all that has changed now and he is a happily married man. He turns and asks for the next question, not forgetting anyone standing around him.
It is not common for Ganesh to play lead roles. “It is a choice between honour and profit, I always choose honour. I want people to remember me for the good roles I did. Two other films I have agreed to act are also such films.”
He feels that many of the Malayalam films that come out today have no soul. “A film like Sreenivasan’s Sandhesham or Vadakkunokkiyenthram, I could still watch with interest, when it comes on the television. The political message given by Sandesham is still relevant. Or the story told by a movie like Panchavadipaalam is still true about Kerala politics. But a new generation movie, which I may have watched in the theatre, I cannot watch again when it is played on TV. Those are films you can just go and see and forget about.”
But there are noticeable films like Ordinary or Oru Indian Pranayakatha, he added. “Or Drishyam, I like what the director Jeethu Joseph has done there. The first fifteen minutes, there is nothing, and then you see his talent.”
In Mizhithurakku, he saw such a difference. He shed a few kilos to play the role of a cheruman (lower caste), who marries Savithri, an upper caste woman.
On the film adapted from Kumaranasan’s Duravastha, Ganesh Kumar has a lot to say. “The film is set in 1921, the freedom fight is on. Kumaranasan questions the social situation in his poem, of the caste divide. He asks us to open our eyes (‘mizhi thurakku’). The question we should ask is have we opened our eyes yet?”
The first time the director of the film Dr Santhosh told him about Duravastha’, Ganesh asked him ‘is it about my Duravastha?” But that has changed now, he said. “I am a very happy man now, ‘ente mizhi thurannu’ (my eyes have opened).”