Ajay Kumar a.k.a. Guinness Pakru recounts his journey in filmdom
It is tough being a celebrity. A mob surrounds me and camera phones start clicking furiously. The focus is not on me though, but rather on the person I'm with – Guinness Pakru. The actor was in the city for half a day recently and gracefully agreed for an interview. The interview however, was punctuated with pauses as fans came up to speak with the actor and pose for pictures.
“You get used to it. Although, you may be dead tired, you have to oblige your fans. They are, after all the backbone of your career. I dislike camera phones, though. I feel they are an invasion of privacy. While some people do ask before they click a photo of you, most don't,” says Ajay Kumar a.k.a. Guinness Pakru.
One of the shortest heroes in India, Ajay stands tall amongst his colleagues. And if scriptwriters penning scripts with you in mind, is a sign of you arriving in tinsel town, then Ajay is riding a career high. Ajay recently played meaty roles in My Big Father and Swantham Bharya Zindabad and will soon be sharing screen space with popular Kollywood actor Suriya in A.R. Murugadoss's upcoming flick titled 7 AM Arivu. However, Kollywood is not new territory for the actor. His role as actor Jeeva's friend in Dishyum won him the Tamil Nadu State Award and his recent act in Kaavalan (remake of the Malayalam movie Bodyguard) won him accolades.
“I believe the people's concept of a hero is no longer that of a good looking, strapping young man. People, I feel, now want a person who can carry a role on their shoulder with élan; an actor.”
Spotting the actor
It was director Vinayan who first spotted the actor in Ajay. “Although I was flattered that he felt I could do justice to the role of a warrior prince of a Lilliputian kingdom in his Atbhuta Dweep, I had my doubts. The movie, however, was a hit. It also changed the popular conception that people who are not well built cannot carry a role on their shoulders and are fit only for comic scenes and roles in circus scenes,” says the actor.
Ajay had to do his own stunts in Atbhuta Dweep. “It was crazy. Here were huge, untrained actors, who were playing the giants in the movie, flinging me to and fro as part of the scenes of the movie. I could not opt for a body double as there is no one my size in the industry. I would often wake up sore the next day,” he grins recalling the events.
However, hard work pays and Ajay won a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the ‘shortest actor leading in an adult role in a movie' for his role in the movie.
“And that is how I became Guinness Pakru instead of Pakru. Mammooka (Mammootty) encouraged me to make the change. Pakru is the name of the character I played in my debut movie Ambili Amavan.”
He adds: “Actually it was the media who gave me the nickname. I was in school when I acted as Jagathy's son in K.G. Vijaya Kumar's Ambili Amavan. I was a regular at various school and college fetes and won a lot of prizes. The media when mentioning my win would address me as Pakru and the name stuck.”
Mimicry, recitation contests, fancy dress competitions, you name it, Ajay was a part of it. And his mother, Ambujakshiamma, would accompany him to all those fetes. His mother, he says, encouraged him to participate in various competitions in order to get certificates. “She felt those certificates would help me get a comfortable government job,” laughs Ajay.
Apart from his parents, his teachers too had a role in developing his artistic side. “I remember how my teachers would encourage me to participate in various events. In fact, the first ever contest I participated in was a kathaprasangam back in CMS High School, Olassa. In Baselios College, Kottayam, I had a finger in every pie, be it in cultural, political or arts. I loved my time in college. I was there for my pre degree and degree (Economics) and even did my PGDCA there.”
Upon completing his education at Baselios, instead of a life “behind a desk,” he decided to pursue a life on stage. A gifted mimicry artiste, he joined various mimicry troupes. The experience working with Kottayam Nazir's and Nadirshah's troupe, says Ajay, was invaluable.
“I learnt a lot from them. How to perform on stage, how to command stage presence, comic timing…”
A firm believer that an actor is an ‘actor' if he can leave a mark on the minds of the audience despite the role and its length, Ajay goes on to add that he tries to ensure he hears the whole script before agreeing to do a role.
“I need to know if I can do justice to it and if I have at least one scene to myself. That is because one scene is enough to make your mark. Like Kunjikoonan for instance; it had me dressed as a girl but I feel it is a scene most people will remember,” says Ajay, who enjoys watching the news and listening to music.
“I'm not a fan of the adipoli kind of songs though, but my daughter, Deeptakeerthi, doesn't mind them. You know the music for the film is going to be a hit if she dances to it,” he laughs as he wraps up for the day.
Up and coming
A.R. Murugadoss's 7 AM Arivu
T.K. Rajeev Kumar's Rathinirvedam
Nizar's Platform No. 1
V.C. Menon's Snake and Ladders
The team of My Big Father will be coming together for a new film. Some of the actors in Atbhuta Dweep get together for a movie in which they play commandos.