S.R. Ashok Kumar
I was married and was having a 3-month-old baby. I came right from the kitchen to the camera
Sowcar Janaki recently turned 75. In her prime, the actor worked with nearly all the lead actors of her time in both South Indian as well as Hindi cinema
. Ms. Janaki, for whom acting is a profession and cooking a passion, looks back on her long career.
I was a radio artist and my first make-up still was taken in 1949 for the film `Sowcar' produced by Nagi Reddy for Vijaya Productions. L.V. Prasad was the director. Talent hunters asked me to perform seven different expressions.
After seven days, I was happy to know I was selected as my survival depended on it. I was married and was having a 3-month-old baby. I came right from the kitchen to the camera. Today, one cannot dream of entering the film field with a baby.
My first salary for the film was Rs.2,500. I was happy to receive it as I could buy milk and clothes for my baby. The film was a hit .
People now say my Tamil is very good. I take great interest in learning the language in every film that I work in.
In fact, when I spoke Bharathidasan's dialogue in the film "Valaiyapathi", it was appreciated by all.
I have worked in almost all the South Indian languages such as like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. In Hindi also, I have done a couple of films.
Till now, I have done 385 films, mostly in Tamil. In Telugu, it could be more than 75 and in Kannada over 30. In Malayalam, I have done two films.
As far as I am concerned, all my films are good but if really pressed for an answer, I would pick my first film `Sowcar', then `Irrukodugal', `Edhir Neecchal', `Bhama Vijayam', `Kaaviya Thalaivi', `Annai', `Puthiya Paravai', `Oli Vilakku', `Kumudam', and `Rojulu Maarayi'.
My all-time favourite actors are Sivaji Ganesan and Savithri.
I have received many awards. The most memorable among them is the one received from the Tamil Nadu Government in 1969-70. I received the best actor award from Mr. Karunanidhi.
The same year, I received the Kalaimamani award. When I saw former President Dr. Radhakrishnan, he told me that he had seen `Venkateswara Mahathyam' and he repeatedly saw the portion I had acted in mainly for my brilliant performance. In that film I had done only a guest role.
Another memorable award was the lifetime achievement award instituted in the name of Nageswara Rao. I received it in his presence and was fortunate to receive the Sivaji Award, presented to me by Sunil Dutt, instituted by Prabhu and Ramkumar, sons of Sivaji Ganesan.
I have not bid goodbye to acting and will take it up if some good roles come my way. I still feel that I can do it ... after all this is my profession.