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Beyond the greasepaint

What do filmstars do to unwind? S.R. ASHOK KUMAR & PRINCE FREDERICK talk to some leading lights to find out

WHAT DO film stars do when the greasepaint is off? How do they defuse the tensions of this highly competitive profession? Do they enlist for a yoga course? Adopt a hobby? Go on an eating binge to soothe their nerves? Metro Plus talked to some leading film personalities to find out how they unwind.

To tackle the pressures that go with making faces before the camera, actor Vikram gets behind one. A still camera, that is. A shutterbug, he is a proud owner of four state-of-the-art cameras and a caboodle of accessories. Whenever he packs up for an outdoor shooting programme, the first thing that he reaches for are his cameras. While on professional tours to scenic locales, Vikram uses the brief spells of leisure that he could snatch, to indulge in his passion for photography.

Most of Kamal Haasan's holidays are actually busman's holidays, for the line separating his avocation from his vocation is blurred. He enjoys ferreting out masterpieces of acclaimed filmmakers ("Fedrico Fellini, Michael Cocyanis, Akira Kurasowa and so on") for his personal collection. His collection is both diverse and eclectic. He also soaks himself in film literature. His library is chock-a-block with magazines on cinema and photography. In the auditorium on the first floor of his Alwarpet office, he periodically screens films for a cosy club of connoisseurs. A discussion on a film invariably follows the screening.

As another film-related leisure activity, the thespian takes time out to meet with renowned filmmakers of the country he happens to visit. He likes to pick their brains. Some years ago, when Kamal was in Japan he sought an audience with the legendary (late) Akira Kurasowa. The filmmaker's assistants politely turned down the request. One of them told a disappointed Kamal that Kurasowa had just embarked on the editing work of his next film. He was told: "As Kurasowa looks upon editing as a deciding factor in a film's success or otherwise, he gets wrapped up in it. He shuts himself up in the editing chamber for days on end. He allows nothing to intrude on his work." Kamal left Japan a wiser man. "This incident opened my eyes to the importance of editing," recalls Kamal.

Devyani deals with her worries by placing them at the feet of her Ishta Devata - Lord Siva. One can frequently spot Devyani at Kalikambal temple in Parry's or the Ganesh temple near her house in Virugambakkam. When she was in Mumbai, she would often go to the Shanti Durga temple in Goa. Before tying the knot with director Rajkumaran, she visited the Thirumanancheri temple in Kumbakonam. Tradition has it that if a woman pays obeisance to the deity there, she would marry the man of her dreams. After Rajkumaran took her hand in matrimony, she went with him to the temple to offer thanks for the benediction.

Sneha's leisure is consumed by Kuchipudi or Bharatanatyam practice. Though she started learning these dance forms at the age of eight, her training has not been complete, thanks to the peripatetic nature of her father's profession. Even now as an actress, she continues to live out of suitcases. As a result, she does not stay at a place long enough to have a permanent tutor. She is, however, pulling out all stops to ensure that her arangetram (debut performance) is held before the end of this year.

Bitten as she is by the travel bug, actress Shirin says that a "get-away" rejuvenates the mind. Even during school picnics, nobody would enter into the spirit of the occasion as fully as she would, remembers Shirin. She is more than happy to be an actress as the profession offers immense opportunities for globetrotting.

A good chunk of actor Prashant's leisure is spent in cyberspace. He has e-mailing-and-chatting down to a fine art. "I have made a good number of friends from around the world through Internet chat-rooms."

Wolfing down scoops of ice creams is playback singer S.P. Balasubramaniam's idea of chilling out. This is surprising because singers, to safeguard their voices, resign themselves to a lifetime of denial. But S.P.B does not even try to fight down his desire for ice-creams, something that he yields to without a soupcon of remorse. Often,after liberal helpings of ice-cream, he gulps down a steaming cup of coffee.

Could this be a really hot way of chilling out?

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