Kay Kay Menon is one of the finest actors we have today. In a career spanning over two decades, Menon has delivered one brilliant performance after the other, even in movies that did not match his caliber as an actor.
Here's a look at some of his most memorable roles:
1. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Long before Netwon, it was Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi that took on the idealism vs. pragmatism debate, but with a far harsher result than Newton. Kay Kay Menon starred as Siddharth Tyabji, a student turned activist, whose idea of leading a revolution fails in the face of a reality that is not just unkind, but also unforgiving. Menon was flawless in his portrayal of a young man whose idealism is replaced by guilt as his friend and lover pay the cost of his beliefs.
2. Black Friday
The film that went on to win international acclaim, Black Friday courted controversies before fame in India. But once it finally reached the masses, the film left the audience thoroughly impressed, even if it made them decidedly uncomfortable, and even speechless. It is actually impossible to highlight just a single actor from the film. But, in just the fifth film of his career, Menon proved that he belonged to the league of actors who could steal the spotlight even in an ensemble cast.
Sarkar was the film that won Menon his first Filmfare Nomination, though, in my humble opinion, it was long overdue. Nevertheless, Menon served creepiness and villainy on a platter, as Vishnu Nagare. On the face of it, he was the usual 'bad guy', fighting for greater power. But Menon imbued the character with a mix of slyness and crumbling humanity, that made him a striking figure, even when sharing screen space with an actor like Amitabh Bachchan.
4. Life in a... Metro
In the Hindi film industry, it is easy to differentiate between heroes - at least, the writers and directors attempt to mould them differently. But villains are often crafted as copies. And yet, Menon ensured that he became the unpredictable villain of Bollywood, with his brilliant but novel performances. This is why, his act as a creepy male chauvinist, cheating on his wife in Life in a Metro is nothing like his performance in Sarkar, though infidelity, arrogance, and rage were common traits to both characters.
Shaurya is an underrated gem that may have faltered on the storyline, but more than made up for it in stellar performances by both, Rahul Bose, and Kay Kay Menon. Menon, as the prejudiced officer, represented a figure often missing from movies on the Indian army - a flawed officer. Menon did complete justice to the role, exposing a faction of society that is insidious in its ability to cause harm.
Violent and chaotic, Gulaal made for powerful storytelling indeed. But Anurag Kashyap's stellar directions skills were ably supported by a phenomenal star cast, with Kay Kay Menon's Dukey Banna being the cherry on the cake. In an industry riddled with heroes spouting monologues at the drop of a hat, Menon's fiery outbursts and emotionally rousing speeches still left you impressed.
Menon deserves a special award for never repeating a performance, despite playing the antagonist in multiple movies, Haider being the latest. While it was not easy distracting someone from Shahid's emphatic performance and Tabu's ethereal charm, Menon managed to do so with his flawless portrayal of Haider's uncle, Khurram Meer.
8. The Ghazi Attack
Menon is brilliant as Captain Ran Vijay Singh, a role that's completely different from his role as an army officer in Shaurya. Though he played a captain who followed instincts over rules, Menon lent gravitas to his performance, separating it from the crop of over-eager macho heroes Bollywood panders as protagonists.
9. Special OPS
After playing the villain, and the supporting character, in multiple films, Menon finally starred as the lead of the espionage thriller Special OPS, on Disney+Hotstar. A notable entry in the list of Bollywood's spy thrillers, the show emerged with critics hailing Menon's performance, and rightfully so. As an elite Indian spy carrying out 'miscellaneous operations', Menon nailed the crafty mix of mystery and patriotism, that made him appear intriguing without being preachy.
To be perfectly honest, I found the second adaptation by Srijit Mukherjee far too unnerving, almost creepy, to actually enjoy it. But, what I can't deny is the joy of watching Menon nail yet another complex character with apparent ease. In Bahrupiya, Menon expertly showcased what a false sense of power can do to a man who has spent years battling insecurities. From the subtle shift in his expressions to the discreet gestures that he employs, Menon was phenomenal as Idrashish.
What a range!