Jayaram Subramaniam

  • Actor

Dec 10, 1965  in Perumbavoor, Kerala, India

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Jayaram Subramaniam, known mononymously as Jayaram, is an Indian film actor who appears primarily in Malayalam and Tamil films. Since his debut in the 1988 mystery thriller Aparan, Jayaram has appeared in over 200 films and has won two Kerala State Film Awards, a Tamil Nadu State Film Award and four Filmfare Awards (South) in the course of his career. Besides acting, he is also an accomplished percussionist and mimicry artist.

For his contributions towards art, the actor was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian Government in 2011.

Jayaram was born in Perumbavoor, Kerala, to Subramaniyam Iyer and Thankam. While his mother is from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, Jayaram`s father hails from a Tamil Iyyer family settled in Kerala. He is the youngest of three siblings, and has an elder sister named Manjula and an elder brother named Venkit Ram (late).

Following his schooling at Government Boys High School, Perumbavoor, Jayaram joined Sree Sankara College, Kalady, from where he graduated with a degree in economics. A brief stint as a medical representative was succeeded by Kalabhavan, a Kochi-based performing arts centre where Jayaram honed his skills as a mimicry artist. It was his stint at Kalabhavan that paved the actor`s way to Mollywood in the late 1980`s.

Jayaram married actress Parvathy in 1992. They have two children together: a daughter named Malavika and a son named Kalidas Jayaram, who is also an actor.

Jayaram made his feature film debut with Padmarajan`s mystery thriller Aparan (1988), where he played dual roles - that of the protagonist and the antagonist. The film was a critical and commercial success, and has since been widely hailed as a classic. In his second outing as an actor, Jayaram reunited with Padmarajan for the drama film Moonnam Pakkam (1988), which is still considered as one among the best films in both their careers. The actor had three more releases in his debut year: the romantic drama Dhwani, the thriller film Witness and the comedy-drama Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu. The critical and commercial success of these films quickly turned Jayaram into one of the most sought-after young actors in Mollywood, with him appearing in as many as 16 films in the following year. While supporting roles alongside Kamal Haasan in Chanakyan (1989), Mohanlal in Ulsavapittennu (1989) and Mammootty in Artham (1989) earned him critical acclaim, leading roles in Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal (1989), Mazhavil Kavadi (1989) and Innale (1989) reaffirmed his credentials as a bankable name in the industry.

The actor was at his prolific best in the 1990`s, appearing in more than 80 films in the decade - a majority of which were hits and some of which turned out to be the biggest blockbusters of his career. With family entertainers like Thoovalsparsham (later remade into Hindi as Heyy Babyy), Georgekutty C/O Georgekutty (1991), Meleparambil Aanveedu (1993), CID Unnikrishnan (1994), Aniyan Bava Chetan Bava (1995), Dilliwala Rajakumaran (1996), Superman (1997), Summer in Bethlahem (1998) and Friends (1999) running to packed houses, Jayaram found his niche as the superstar whose films mainly catered to family audience. Besides these formulaic crowd pleasers, he also turned out strong performances throughout the decade courtesy of films like Sandesham (1991), Keli (1991), Paithrukam (1993), Thooval Kottaram (1996), Karunyam (1997), Irattakuttikalude Achan (1997) and Sneham (1998). In 1996, Jayaram won both his first Kerala State Film Award (Special Jury Award) and Filmfare Award (South) for his performance in Sathyan Anthikkad`s comedy-drama Thooval Kottaram.

Though he had been a familiar face among the Tamil audience since the early 90`s, it was his supporting role in Kamal Haasan`s Thenali (2000) that brought the actor much wider recognition and acceptance. He won a Special Jury Award for his role in the film, thus earning him the rare distinction of being one among the few Mollywood actors with both Kerala and Tamil Nadu State Film Awards to their credit. Jayaram continued to strike the fine balance between commercial success and critical acclaim in the early 2000`s. Films like Theerthadanam (2001) and Sesham (2002) underlining his versatility as an actor, even as he continued to star in superhits like Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal (2000), One Man Show (2001), Yathrakarude Sradhakku (2002) and Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum (2003). Jayaram`s portrayal of the mentally challenged asylum inmate Lonappan in Sesham is widely regarded as one of the best in his career.

In 2003, Jayaram reunited with frequent collaborator Sathyan Anthikkad for the family drama Manassinakkare, which opened to rave reviews and went on to become a blockbuster. However, this was followed by a career slump, with films like Njan Salperu Ramankutty (2004), Finger Print (2005), Sarkar Dada (2005), Kanaka Simhasanam (2006), Sooryan (2007) and Novel (2008) tanking at the box office. Jayaram staged a comeback in 2008 with the comedy-drama Veruthe Oru Bharya, where he played a family man who seeks redemption after estranging his wife with his callousness. Sathyan Anthikkad`s Bhagyadevatha (2009) also had the actor essaying a somewhat similar character, and the film was a box office success.

In the third decade of his career, Jayaram was seen foraying into multi-starrer projects in Mollywood and supporting roles in Kollywood, both of which paid off for the actor. Ensemble movies like Happy Husbands (2010), Chinatown (2011) and Seniors (2011) turned out to be huge commercial hits, while his supporting roles in the Tamil films Kola Kolaya Mundhirika (2009), Thuppakki (2012) and Uttama Villain (2015) were well-received. Though he couldn`t match the commercial viability he enjoyed in the 1990`s, Jayaram continued to produce memorable performances in films like Swapna Sanchari (2011), Nadan (2013) and Swapaanam (2014). The ensemble comedy film Achayans and the Telugu film Bhagmathi are some of the actor`s projects in 2017.