She is just one film old in Kollywood, and, in her own words, Ooh La La didn’t fare quite well at the box office. But, up-and-coming actor Divya Bhandari is not crestfallen. “Considering I am from Mumbai and have had a break in one of the largest film-producing industries, I am glad. Now I have to ensure that the next film I sign on is something really good with a character strong enough to take me places. To start with, I have decided that Tamil cinema is where I want to be. I am learning the language, watching as many films as possible and developing a network of friends and professionals from the industry to help me in this endeavour,” says Divya. “Although I come from a film background (Divya’s dad is a director of Gujarati and Marathi films), I have always been away from the scene because I lived in the hostel in school. It was a chance meeting with director Jyothikrishna that made me accept Ooh La La. I have no regrets and only think of it as a launch pad.”

Bound for the U.S.

Moving out of the shadow of a great singer like S. P. Balasubramaniam must have been difficult for his son Charan when he wanted to pursue a career in singing. He did the next best thing — produced films such as Unnai Charanadainthain, Mazhai, Chennai 600028, Kungumapoovum Konjum Puravum, Naanayam and Aranyakandam. The last-mentioned won a Swarna Kamal at the National Awards 2012. “But, singing has always interested me. Since 1996, I have sung several songs for almost every music director, barring a few among the new crop. Venkat Prabhhu, Yugendran and I have a light music band called Next Generation which performs live at shows. I would love to continue playback singing,” says Charan who is also on the lookout for a good script to produce his next film. Meanwhile, Charan is getting ready for a 45-day concert tour of the U.S. with his dad’s orchestra.

Thiruvilayadal next

After the success of the restored and re-released Karnan, the 1964 Sivaji Ganesan-starrer directed by B. R. Panthulu, the others in the field are following suit. Director A. P. Nagarajan’s Thiruvilayadal is being restored by his son Param. This 1966 blockbuster was followed by Thillana Mohanambal and Rajaraja Cholan, both being landmark films in the career of the actor and the director. “My father directed 16 films starring Sivaji Ganesan. Since we have the creative rights for all the films directed by APN, we have, to start with, restored and digitised Thiruvilayadal. I recently showed snatches of the film to Sivaji’s son Ramkumar who said, ‘It was like watching a new film,’ and that it gave him goose bumps,” says Param. “APN started his career as an actor and, after six films, moved to other areas of production, including direction. He directed many successful films till his death at the age of 49,” adds Param.

Directorial debut

Director M. Ganeshan deals with a sensitive romance in Isakki. In this film, a teacher (played by Ashita) from a well-placed family spurns the love of a car driver played by Saran (Inidhu Inidhu) to avoid problems that may arise out of such an alliance. “Saran’s relentless pursuit to win her creates a lot of problems, but it brings the two closer. But, do they unite or does fate have other plans? That’s what Isakki is about,” says Ganeshan, a first-time director. “I have done a lot of research on the art of screenplay, scripting, dialogue and direction. This, coupled with my interest in filmmaking right from a young age, has given me the confidence to launch Isakki,” adds Ganeshan.