V.P. Ramachandran's versatility in theatre, film and television was aptly acknowledged on ‘World Drama Day 2012.'
It was a quirk of fate that brought together two men at the ‘World Drama Day 2012,' celebrated by Chennai Nadakavedi on March 24 at the Maithri Auditorium, Chinmaya Nagar. One, Delhi Ganesh, was the chief guest and he felicitated the other, Vannadil Puthiyaveetil Ramachandran (VPR), the guest of honour.
Strangely, they were both with the Indian Air Force in Delhi at the same time. While VPR used to act in Malayalam play competitions at IAF conducted by the Delhi Malayalam Samajam, Delhi Ganesh used to act in the Tamil ones conducted by the Delhi Thamizh Sangam. Both always won in their respective languages. It was a delightful and nostalgic meeting, where the veterans replayed the past.
For VPR, the honour is an addition to his growing list of glory. He has been winning prizes and recognition from his childhood for drama, mono-acting and fancy dress. He was born in Payyanur on April 15, 1947, into a family connected to theatre. His father, A. Ramapoduval, a well known versatile teacher and a dramatist, was a pioneer in Sangeetha Natakam. At 16, VPR directed his first Malayalam play ‘Kalayum Changalayum,' in Delhi and has so far directed around 200 plays. His active and popular banner is Kaliyuga Theatres. At present, he is busy with films, TV serials and tele-films.
As a stage artist he has performed in over 2,000 shows in India and abroad. His ‘Anubandham,' on the theme of alienation fetched him and his troupe several awards, notably that of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award.
His play, ‘Naalamathe Aani' (Fourth Nail), is based on a European myth. Domba a blacksmith of Jerusalem refuses to give the fourth nail to drunken soldiers, who don't have enough money to pay for it. Christ, with the Cross on his shoulders, goes in search of the blacksmith for 1,500 years for delaying his crucifixion for want of a nail.
VPR's ‘Bundola' is a triangular love story against the backdrop of World War II. World War's backdrop between The trio is an Army Major posted in Burma as Chief of Elephant Regime, Ela and her lover Puyong the caretaker of the elephants. His ‘Saaketham' meaning Ayodhya touches on how Kaikeyi gets her boon fulfilled by King Dasaratha (VPR), who sends Lord Rama to 14 years' exile. VPR's ‘Lanka Lekshmi' gives a fresh angle to the Ravana-Sita tale. The story is about how Ravana (VPR) brings Sita to Lanka in keeping with his norm, which is that the best in every form of creation should be available only in Lanka.
“I never studied acting. But learnt it through keen observation, analysing real characters and trying to understand their perceptions by stepping into their shoes. I try to blend this into my own conceived format as the need arises according to the subject,” says VPR.
An expert in stagecraft techniques such as lighting, costume designing and sets, he touched the hearts of the audience during the Festival of India in USSR in 1987. The Kerala Arts Centre in California honoured him by awarding honorary fellowship.
VPR has acted in over 50 Malayalam films with veteran directors such as Baby, Hariharan, I.V. Sasi, Bhadran and Venu. He has just completed three films that are slated for release shortly. He has also done Kannada films such as ‘Oorge Hosaba' and ‘Lakshmana Rekha.' Apart from movies, he has done over a 100 TV serials in Malayalam and eight in Tamil. He was awarded Best Mini Screen Actor from Nana Award & Samagra, Trivandrum. He has also produced and directed eight Malayalam TV serials and about 20 tele-films.
VPR has produced and directed ‘Vrinda Natyatara,' the first reality show on Bharatanatyam. It opened with a 15-minute lecture-demonstration by veterans such as Lakshmi Viswanathan, Chithra Visweswaran, M.V. Narasimhachari and V.P. Dhananjayan, and the next 15 minutes focussed on the dance competition. ‘Medimix Cinemavil Oru Ganam' was also the first reality show on classical music by VPR. Both were on Asianet.
VPR has received recognition from numerous organisations from India and abroad that includes Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy and the Pune-based Vakdevatha.
VPR's track record proves that Chennai Nadakavedi chose an apt occasion to honour such a versatile artist. The felicitation function was followed by staging of two Malayalam dramas ‘Pull'” and ‘Oru Gramathinte Kadha.'