With actor-director Sidhartha Siva who won the National award for debut director

Sidhartha Siva had just finished his shot and a box full of milk pedas arrived. The actor-director was celebrating his National award – Indira Gandhi Award for the Best First Film of a Director, for 101 Chodyangal, on the sets of Shyamaprasad’s new movie, Artist. “It feels really special to win a National award at a young age,” he says with glee. Sidhartha is 27 now. In fact, the awards threw up a double treat for the cast and crew of the film since the movie also won Minon both the National and State film awards for the best child artiste.

101 Chodyanga , written and directed by Siddartha, is about Sivanandan (Murugan), an employee in a sugar factory, his son, Anilkumar Bokaro (Minon) and Anil’s teacher, Mukundan (Indrajith). It is about a father and son bonding over the latter’s insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder.

Sidhartha is more familiar to the Malayali audience as an actor through his roles in Thirakkatha, Ritu, Ivar Vivahitharayal, Puthiya Theerangal, Ayalum Njanum Thammil… But then he always wanted to be a director, being the son of filmmaker Kaviyoor Sivaprasad, who taught at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. “Discussions about films always happened at home and so naturally I wanted to direct a movie. In fact, when I was in class seven (at NSS Higher Secondary School, Kaviyoor in Pathanamthitta district), I made a short film which was produced by YMCA,” he says. But his acting skills got noticed first when he participated in ‘Best Actor’, a reality show for actors on Amrita TV, and was chosen the first runner-up.

Nevertheless, he is “not comfortable as an actor. Of course, I’ve got some good roles, as in Ritu and Puthiya Theerangal, but I don’t think I’d reach anywhere as an actor. I’m just floating, neither here nor there. I feel I’m neither good at comedy nor in serious roles,” he says with a laugh, adding: “Also, I’m not affected by the success or failure of a film at the box office.”

But he is comfortable as a director? “Of course. I think I’ve already made a mark,” he says with confidence. Other than Artist, in which he plays a curator, he hasn’t committed himself to any new film as of now. His next movie, Five, with Indrajith in the lead, will go on the floors by August.

101 Chodyangal, expected to release in April, is produced by Thomas Kottackakom. Veteran composer M.K. Arjunan has composed the music.

Quest for the questions

When the protagonist Sivanandan gets fired from his job, he struggles to find a new one, to support his wife Sathi (Lena) and son. “He wanted to become an industrialist, but since he couldn’t he chose Bokaro as his son’s surname!” says Sidhartha. Meanwhile Mukundan, who also writes books that are commonly sold in trains, seeks Anil’s help for his new book featuring 101 questions and their answers. He asks Anil to find 101 questions and promises him Re 1 per question. Thus Anil starts supporting the family. But, gradually, he becomes obsessed with finding new questions. In fact, when he can’t find new questions after touching 60, the pressure gets on his nerves. “He struggles to find a question at every instant of his life and his father’s struggle to find a new job runs parallel to this. Finally, when he finds the 101st question, it links the father and son,” says Sidhartha.