With Eeram running to packed houses, there’s no looking back for Nanda. Malathi Rangarajan sizes up the actor’s career
Eight films spanning half a dozen years and a flawless job in each of them! Yet Nanda’s career seemed to have plateau-ed out after Mounam Paesiyadhae till of course, Eeram came his way. None can forget the soft spoken Nanda’s transformation into a consummate villain in Eeram. The film, which is weaving magic at the box office, has placed the young man firmly on the ladder of success. “I owe it to directors Shankar and Arivazhagan,” he says. The excitement in his voice also reveals the angst of an actor, who despite his good looks and training in acting, dance and stunts had to wait for long to get his due. Now with Eeram’s winning run, there ought to be no looking back for him!
When director Arivazhagan called him over to narrate the line, he told him to choose the role he wished to play and Nanda preferred the husband’s part. “I felt that the character offered more scope.” The subtle, underplayed enactment which takes off in a full fledged manner in the second half is harvesting laurels from every quarter.
Nanda is at the airport to board a flight to Coimbatore when he stops for a one to one. “Work for Naga’s Anandapurathu Veedu (AV) is over and I’ve completed dubbing. So I’ve snatched a day to be with my mom in Coimbatore,” he smiles. Nanda’s family has nothing to do with cinema. His brother works in the U.S.“Though it is a new field for us, my family has been supportive,” he says. That’s why Nanda feels sad that his father, wasn’t alive when his first film was released. “He passed away when I was shooting for Punnagai Poovae,” he recalls.
AV will mark director Naga’s big screen debut — the producer is S Pictures again. “Every fortnight or so director Shankar took time off to watch the rushes of Eeram. He would offer suggestions and encourage me. The crowning glory was when he said he watched the second half about five times because he was impressed with my performance,” laughs Nanda.
It was when Eeram started rolling that Naga’s project was being discussed. Naga, who had liked Nanda’s portrayal of a hapless doctor in strife-torn Sri Lanka, in Aanivaer, suggested his name for the protagonist’s part and without hesitation Shankar seconded it. Incidentally, Aanivaer directed by John Mahendran, was a hit all over the world. (India and Sri Lanka were two countries where it couldn’t be released.)
Once Nanda decided that his future would be in cinema, he met producer Dhanu. “ He was doing Aalavandhaan then. ‘I’ll launch you after Aalavandhaan. Meanwhile, join the film institute,’ he advised.”
Later, he made Nanda train in fights and footwork too. “He was the one who made me a hero with Punnagai Poovae. Seeing my picture in the launch invite Ameer took me on board for Mounam Paesiyadhae.”
Mounam … got released first and Nanda’s performance as an incorrigible playboy drew attention. “Till date people remember me in the film,” he says.
Be it Agaram, Selvam, Kodambakkam, or Urchaagam Nanda acquitted himself well in all of them. They had strong stories and effective narration, yet they failed to set the cash registers ringing. “The time of a film’s release and its pre-release publicity are very important. I feel the mistakes lay there,” he contends.
His other releases apart from Anandapurathu Veedu, include Puzhudhi, with Ezhumalai, who has worked under director Priyadarshan and Sharath Haridas’s untitled film. “Sharath is the scriptwriter of Anandapurathu Veedu,” he informs. Madhvi Singh from the film institute in Pune, will be debuting as his heroine.
If Mounam … had Nanda playing Casanova, his role in Eeram is positively negative. So can we expect to see him in more such roles? “No more villainy for me. After watching Eeram my mother said, ‘You’ve done well. But why play such a bad man? And you never even told us about it!’”