Theatre artist V. Chandru’s first dialogue on stage was, “He’s been caught.” He was playing the role of a police constable in Devan’s ‘Thuppariyum Sambu’. In retrospect, it seems to have been an appropriate line to mark his entry into the world of theatre, for ever since, Chandru has been well and truly caught in a loving clasp by Tamil theatre.
One of the recipients of the Devan Memorial Award this year, Chandru says Poornam Viswanthan was his guide and mentor in the world of theatre. It was from Poornam that he learnt some valuable lessons. Chandru had done the role of Rockefeller in ‘Washingtonil Thirumanam’ in more than 300 shows. On one occasion, when there were not many in the audience, Chandru didn’t apply enough make-up to make him appear Caucasian in complexion. When Poornam questioned him, Chandru replied that after all they were only an amateur troupe. Was the make-up so important, considering the thin attendance that day? “Don’t call yourself an amateur actor. Think of yourself as a mature actor,” Poornam reprimanded him.
Chandru recalls an occasion, when he played the role of a Superintendent of Police. Thinking that a cigarette in his mouth would add a dash of style, he put one in his mouth, and lit it. Unfortunately, Chandru, who had never smoked in his life, ended up setting fire to his luxuriant moustache! That’s when he learnt that experimenting on stage with things one is not familiar with can be disastrous.
Some roles came to him for the most unbelievable reasons. He was chosen to play the role of Rockefeller because he was the only one in the troupe who owned a suit!
Chandru has won the Best Actor award thrice from Mylapore Academy, and twice from Kartik Fine Arts.