Malayalam superstar Jayasurya credits his rise in the film industry to his passion for films and says he has managed to become an actor only because he couldn't stop dreaming about the big screen.
Jayasurya started out as a mimicry artist, hosted TV shows like 'Jagathy Vs Jagathy', 'Fun-Day Jokepot' and did nameless cameos in several films between 1995 and 2001.
His career took a turn with his big-screen debut as a leading actor with the 2002 romantic-drama Oomappenninu Uriyadappayyan.
"I was a mimicry artiste and a dubbing artiste but since then the only thing that kept running in my mind was cinema. Doing cinema was my only intention and because of that honesty and pure intention, I think I have managed to reach here," Jayasurya told PTI in an interview.
Armed with experience in mimicry, he found himself earning recognition in comic roles in films like Swapnakkoodu, Pulival Kalyanam, Chocolate and Gulumaal.
The 41-year-old actor, however, said then he wasn't worried about being stereotyped.
"I am always in the quest for new ideas. In the beginning of my career, I used to do a lot of comedy but I never thought of being stereotyped.
"Somehow I switched to various characters because as an actor you should know how to explore different roles," he added.
The change of gears for Jayasurya happened in the late 2000s, where he gained acclaim for featuring in different genre projects, including the 2010 thriller Cocktail, the musical-drama-thriller Beautiful in 2011 and director VK Prakash's 2012 romantic-drama Trivandrum Lodge.
"As an actor, I took a stand that I don't want to do a similar kind of stuff... I wanted to do different and unique parts. You have to fight the challenge," he said.
Citing the example of the 2018 hit drama Njan Marykutty, which got him the Kerala State Film Award for playing a trans woman in the film, Jayasurya said he only picks roles which excite him.
"Externally I didn't face any kind of challenges but internally characters have always challenged me. I don't want to get into the comfort zone. When characters come searching me that's when I realise I have the potential and ability to push boundaries."
The actor recently featured in Sufiyum Sujatayum, which released on Amazon Prime Video.
The musical-love story was earlier set for a theatrical release, but premiered online due to the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown.
Jayasurya said the emergence of streaming platforms has helped put a spotlight on films in languages apart from Hindi.
"We can say regional cinema is getting its due credit because of the OTT as the reach is huge. In OTT we are competing with the international market and the content that they make for Rs 100 crore we make it for Rs 5 crore. People are liking the realistic approach that south films are offering...
"Now we will have to create more good content. I recently watched 'Bulbbul' and it stayed with me, they showed women in such a powerful light. So when you have such great content coming in, we only hope to create more good content," he added.