In Kollywood's recent success story "Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa", the hero is an engineer who simply follows his heart and becomes a film director. In real life too, there's a band of young engineers that has given up kinematics in favour of cinematic pursuits. What's it about the fantasy factory that attracts them to it?
Gautham Vasudev Menon
*Mechanical Engineer, Mookambigai College of Engineering, near Tiruchi.
*Claim to fame: “Minnale”, “Kaakha Kaakha”, “Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu”, “Vaaranam Aayiram” and “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa”.
*Director's cut: Was always passionate about films. Used to write scripts and watch at least one film a day during my culturally-active campus life. Since my heart was in cinema, I joined Rajiv Menon after a brief stint in marketing CAD software. My parents encouraged me to pursue my dream. Can't deny the fact that my education helped in shaping my tastes and aesthetics, besides sharpening my people and communication skills. I don't look at films as just a money-making proposition. There have been frustrating moments like waiting outside producers' doors or putting up with star tantrums. But I've always worked out ways to overcome the hurdles rather than shy away from them.
C. S. Amudhan
*Electronics and Communication Engineer, St. Joseph's College of Engineering, Chennai.
*Claim to fame: “Tamizh Padam”
Director's cut: Being creatively inclined, I used to write a lot during my college days. There was no driving ambition to be a filmmaker. From organising events to running an ad agency to filmmaking, the transition just happened. At the bottom of it all, I guess, there was this desire for the freedom to create. I learnt filmmaking on the job. I was lucky to work with some acclaimed technicians who taught me along the way. My engineering background didn't help as much as my grounding in ads. I always put myself in the audience's shoes! And yes, the unpredictability of the cine world fascinates me. Having tasted success with my debut film, I'm here to stay.
* Automobile Engineer, MIT, Chromepet.
* Claim to fame: “Virumbugiren” (State award for direction), “Five Star”, “Thiruttu Payale” and “Kanthasamy”.
* Director's cut: I was keen on joining films after Plus Two. But everyone advised me about getting a good education first. After graduating in B.Sc Physics, I got into MIT on merit, so pursued Engineering. But I was hell-bent on film direction. While my friends applied for cushy jobs in multinational automobile companies, I joined director Mani Ratnam. Though I was the best outgoing student in my batch, I used to shy away from meeting friends. Their salaries and designations used to give me a complex! After the initial years of struggle, I made my debut as director. Award and recognition followed. Cinema is a creative field, there's no question of boredom. The same friends who gave me a complex then are now complaining about monotony in their jobs! Engineering gave me a good exposure and boosted my confidence. But I'm happy to be in films. It's something very close to my heart and I can stay connected to people.
* Mechanical Engineer, MGR Engineering College, Chennai
* Claim to fame: “Kaadhal Kondein”, “7G Rainbow Colony”, “Pudhupettai” and “Aayirathil Oruvan”
* Director's cut: I had a fixation for films from a very young age. But my parents were keen on giving me a good education. So I had to do engineering. Dad said I could take up filmmaking anytime, but not engineering! So I continued with my studies and went on to score high marks. After college, I apprenticed under director K. Balachander for three months before hanging out on my dad's film sets and eventually making my debut. I've no regrets. Engineering has helped me grasp the technicalities of filmmaking and look at things with a clear perspective.
Techies tune in…
From thermodynamics and software design to scripts and histrionics, it's been an exciting ride for Kollywood's engineers-turned-actors too. The list includes “Naan Kadavul” Arya, “Paruthiveeran” Karthi, antagonist-protagonist Vincent Asokan and Vijayalakshmi of “Chennai 28” and “Anjathae” fame.