When the best actors of the contemporary Hindi cinema are discussed, the name Kay Kay Menon often comes to the forefront. Unconventional looks and a keen sense to become the very character that he enacts, Kay Kay Menon is one of the greatest actors that we have today. Beginning in the theatres along with stalwarts of the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, one of his earliest role was that of a fundamentalist in Saeed Mirza’s ‘Naseem’, a film based on the events of the demolition of Babri Masjid. Later he played the role of the man, unknowingly becoming the catalyst of the Union Carbide Gas Leakage tragedy in ‘Bhopal Express’. But the recognition and the fame struck him with Ram Gopal Verma’s tribute to ‘The Godfather’, the gangster saga ‘Sarkar’. A role that was based on Sonny Corleone, he steadfastly held his ground in front of a towering Amitabh Bachchan. Over the years, Kay Kay, as he’s known popularly, has quietly established himself as a force to reckon with, often letting his performances speak for his talent. The Cinemawala chose top fifteen of his performances and ranked them in order. How many have you seen?
15.Bhopal Express (1999)
In the year 1986, a gas leakage happened in the dearths of the night in a sleepy town of Bhopal. An entire town of people died due to the negligence of a few influential individuals. ‘Bhopal Express’ tells the story of that night. Kay Kay, in one of his earlier roles, plays Verma, a maintenance manager at the Union Carbide factory. On the fateful day of the accident, the gas leak occurs on Verma’s watch and thus he gets blamed for his negligence despite the factory lacking adequate infrastructure and security measures. Remembered for one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the film, is when Verma, in a frantic attempt to stop the train on which his wife is coming back to Bhopal, jumps on the track. As the train pulls up, a jubilated Verma suddenly sees another train passing by and he realises, that he had stopped the wrong train! Kay Kay gives a restrained performance as Verma.
14.The Stoneman Murders (2008)
Based on the infamous murders of the eighties, in the suburbs of Bombay, ‘The Stoneman Murders’ is part fiction, part reality. Kay Kay Menon plays a suspended police officer Sanjay, who’s been entrusted with the investigation. As he progresses his investigation, it turns out much more than random serial killings and he starts to identify a pattern, a motive behind the gruesome deaths. Co-starring Virendra Saxena and Vikram Gokhley, the movie suffers due to an incoherent screenplay and an ending that doesn’t tie the loose ends, letting the viewer choose their own interpretation. In a not so great film, Kay Kay gives a great performance.
13.Sankat City (2009)
Directed by Pankaj Advani, ‘Sankat City’ is a black comedy where Kay Kay plays a carjacker. In one of his heists, he steals a car which carries a huge bag of money which belongs to a criminal. He along with his partner, hide the money. But when the criminal comes after them to get the money, Kay Kay’s partner, who hid the money, has a memory loss. How Kay Kay gets back the money, becomes the gist of the story. It’s an interesting story, with multiple subplots and new characters getting introduced every now and then. Kay Kay lets his hair loose and plays a caricature with aplomb. It’s a character that’s very unlike Kay Kay and that’s what makes it interesting to watch.
12.Ankur Arora Murder Case (2013)
An eight-year-old boy dies during the surgery operated on him. His parents suspect foul play in his death and demand for an investigation in the supposedly botched up surgery, which was led by Dr V Asthana, a specialist and revered doctor. As the investigation continues, a different side of Dr Asthana starts to unfurl. A tight medico-legal thriller, ‘Ankur Arora Murder Case’ attempts to throw light on the malpractices in the medical profession. Kay Kay plays Dr Asthana, who is a megalomaniac in the garb of a doctor. Check out the scene, where he compares himself to God and questions why he is being persecuted when even God does mistakes and nobody blames him. Simply fantastic!
11. Chhal (2002)
Director Hansal Mehta’s ‘Chhal’ is one of the few gangster movies which have attempted to showcase the vulnerability of the criminals as well as the psyche of the police mean who spend their lives, running after them. Kay Kay plays Karan, an undercover officer who has to infiltrate a gang led by gangster Shastri and his deputy Girish, in order to bring them down. As he gets acquainted with the criminals, he realizes that there is a humane side of the criminals which the police seem to ignore. A fantastic script written by Suparn Verma which will remind you of ‘Donnie Brasco’, is led ably by Kay Kay with an equally fantastic Prasanth Narayanan as Girish Bhai. A very raw Kay Kay is in works here, showing the glimpses of his genius.
10.Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008)
When a bomb explodes on a local train in the city of Mumbai, life, as usual, doesn’t stand still for the maximum city. But for some individuals, it becomes difficult as they fail to come to terms with the situation. Kay Kay plays Suresh, an unemployed individual who gets saved from the blast by a whisker. But the blast makes him look at the Muslim community in a different light. He turns into a fanatic who blames the Muslims for the bomb blasts. A chance encounter with a to be retired cop changes his belief. Kay Kay does a fabulous job as the Muslim hating man. In a way, he symbolizes many people who ignorantly label a particular religion as hatemongers.
9.Black Friday (2004)
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, ‘Black Friday’ talks about the conspiracy behind the infamous Bombay bomb blasts that happened on March 12th, 1993. Leading the investigation was the then Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria who cracked the case open through his courage and determination. Kay Kay portrays the character of Rakesh Maria and effectively showcases the anguish of a man, torn between his duty and his humanity. At one point of time, you see this man, getting affected by his own choice to torture a fellow human yet when questioned by an accused about the faith and religion he believes in, he thunders back – ‘Har woh aadmi jiske paas kuch nahin hai karne ko, dharm ke naam par chutiyaa banta rahega!’
8.Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007)
Partho Sen, a Bengali gentleman, who has lived his life with utmost seriousness. He is a man of few words and doesn’t like to mingle with others. His wife, Mili, a happy go, lucky young woman, who wants to let her hair down and enjoy, but doesn’t do so, thanks to a brooding Partho. How they get to discover their respective partners’ wild side, becomes one hell of a story. From playing a serious man to get everyone grooving to the tunes of ‘Saiyaanji’, Kay Kay had everyone in splits with his antics as Partho Sen. A standout performance from Kay Kay, from a not so standout film, one should watch ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’ only for him.
7.Life in a…Metro (2007)
Living in a city, perfect looking human lives are often imperfect. The ones who live in lavish houses, they long for the cosiness of a home. The ones who have all the riches are often found to be misers in the matters of the heart. Directed by Anurag Basu, ‘Life In A..Metro’ talks about such people and their lives, living in a metro. Kay Kay plays Ranjeet, who’s married to Shikha in a so-called loveless marriage. He’s in an extramarital affair with one of his colleagues, yet when his wife confesses about one of her momentary closeness with another man, he cannot take it. It’s a classic portrayal of a man, who is wrong himself, yet he chooses to take a moral high ground when it comes to his wife and his own infidelity. As a chauvinistic husband, Kay Kay does a fantastic job.
Anurag Kashyap’s much controversial film ‘Paanch’ remains unreleased in India till date as the CBFC India deems it to be too sensitive to be shown to the public. Whoever has seen it, because a copy is available on the internet, swears by the genius of Anurag Kashyap and Kay Kay. Loosely based on the infamous Joshi – Abhayankar Murders of the seventies, ‘Paanch’ is the story of a group of musicians. As Luke, the leader of the group, Kay Kay leads the group to their path of destruction as a kidnapping plan goes haywire. As Luke, Kay Kay embodies the persona of a narcissistic singer who shows the fallacy of the ever turbulent human psyche. It’s a pity that this movie never got a proper release and Kay Kay never got his due recognition for this character. Check out the song ‘Main Khuda’ and you’ll know what I mean!
‘Sarkar’, Ram Gopal Verma’s tribute to Francis Ford Copolla’s ‘The Godfather’ is a fabulous film, thanks to Amitabh Bachchan’s splendid performance. But what makes it even greater, is the performance of Kay Kay, as Vishnu Nagre, the elder son of Subhash Nagre, the Sarkar. Vishnu is an unsuccessful film producer who’s been reaping his father’s fame. Identified as the chink in Sarkar’s armour by the enemies, he’s found to be instrumental in the attempt to murder his own father. Kay Kay gives a fabulous performance as the wayward son. By his own admission, Kay Kay confirmed that ‘Sarkar’ became the standout performance that gave him the fame that he originally aspired from his earlier films.
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, ‘Haider’ garnered critical as well as audience reviews from all corners. Shahid Kapoor’s performance as prince Hamlet and Tabu who played his mother was appreciated by all. But Kay Kay was the reason behind those superlative performances. He played the character of Khurram Meer, a man who’s so enamoured with his sister-in-law, that he sets up his own brother for treason for helping Kashmiri separatists. While his nephew Haider remains ignorant about his father’s sudden disappearance and seeks the reason behind it, Khurram sets out to fulfil his political aspirations with Gazala as his arm candy. As Khurram, Kay Kay brings out an evil persona that’s practically unheard of.
3.Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2007)
The seventies was a troubled phase for India. Also known as the period of Emergency, the country was going through a rapid change in the political as well as social views of the society. Every individual was either directly or indirectly affected by the events that occurred around it. Director Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ tells the story of three such individuals Siddharth, Geeta and Vikram. Kay Kay plays the mercurial student leader Siddharth, who feels the country desperately needs a rebellion. Geeta (played by Chitrangda Singh) is in love with Siddharth and willing to follow him, even to the grave. A quiet Vikram (played by Shiney Ahuja) is infatuated with Geeta but keeps that to himself. As the dynamics of the country’s politics change and people are found to be leaving the so-called ideological farce, these three characters go through a sea change in their DNAs. Kay Kay is a revelation as Siddharth, a man who’s deeply engrossed in his own ideology, yet found to be changing colours under the adverse situations.
Inspired by the film ‘A Few Good Men’, director Samar Khan’s ‘Shaurya’ is a courtroom drama about an army man being accused of killing his fellow officer. Kay Kay played a military man, Brigadier Pratap who is right in his own way. For him, the world of civilians is a better place, because army men like him spend their nights protecting the nation. What Brigadier Pratap propagates, may be debatable for some people, some may even advocate for it. But what Kay Kay did to the character of Brigadier Pratap, became part of the folklores. Playing brigadier to the original’s Colonel Jessop (played by an enigmatic Jack Nicholson), Kay Kay is the sole reason why everyone remembers this film. Re-live the last scene at the courtroom as he thunders to the defence lawyer – ‘Tum, mujhe acche bure ka paath mat sikhao, tumhaari auqaat nahi hai!
‘Gulaal’ is the story of a man willing to go against the system. It’s also a story of a brother and sister duo, who want to stamp legitimacy to their names. It’s also a story of a man, who sees the world around him in a different light. ‘Gulaal’ is a story of power and struggle. Within the struggle, lies a story of love, betrayal, pride and sacrifice. Kay Kay plays Dukey Banna, a man championing the causes for the Rajputana clan. He is a man who believes that with power anything is possible. He believes that a patriot must always be ready to defend its country against its government. Kay Kay brings out his A-game to portray Dukey Banna whose meteoric rise to the top and swift fall from grace is an integral part of ‘Gulaal’, directed by Anurag Kashyap.
Tell us, which’s your favourite Kay Kay performances, in the comments section.