S.R. Ashok Kumar
"This celluloid medium has taught me to forget unpleasantness"
CHENNAI: R. Pandiarajan came to the film industry as a homegrown product he hails from Chennai, Saidapet to be exact. He wanted to act in films. But due to his height and appearance he decided to join as an assistant director. Fresh from directing the film, Kaivantha Kalai, in which he has introduced his son, Preethi, the actor-director talks about his film career and also his recent move.
I am a person ready to face anything that comes my way an attitude I developed after entering cinema. The celluloid medium has taught me a number of things, mainly to forget unpleasantness and move on.
I joined Thamizisai College (on the first floor of Annamalai Mandram) where I learnt violin and got my diploma as "Isai Selvam" in 1977. After that I joined writer Thooyavan as an office assistant. Here I met director K. Bhagyaraj and later joined him as an assistant director. I became his associate director in Darling Darling Darling and worked till the discussion of Munthanai Mudichu.
While at school, there was this particular year when our school did not get any medal. But when I was about to stage a play, an announcement was made that the best play would get a medal. My play got it. It was then I realised that people were ready to see me act.
My first directorial venture was Kanni Rasi in 1985. I got introduced as a hero in Aan Paavam. Till now, I have directed nine films, including Kaivantha Kalai, and acted in some 90 Tamil films and one Malayalam hit Kathavaseshan, where I acted with Dilip.
I became a film director when I was 21. Now, my son Preethi has entered films as an actor at just 17. I am proud that he has won accolades.
I finished my M.A. in 2002. I am now doing M.Phil (History) at Annamalai University and my dissertation is titled Tamil cinema a critical study. I have also written two books, Thedal and Thookam Varathabodhu Sindhithavai.
I am proud that I introduced a number of actors and technicians including Srikanth Deva (music director) Nithya (cameraman), Thotta Banu (art director) and Seetha, Kollankudi Karuppayi, Debashree Roy (all actors).
My favourite stars are Sivaji Ganesan, MGR and Sridevi. Among directors it is Mani Ratnam.
In fact, he participated in the 100th day function of Gopala Gopala. He said his first three films did not work out satisfactorily. At that time, a producer approached him to do a movie. He asked the producer whether he was aware that his films were flops and whether he had seen the movies. The answer was a big `no'. Why then did the producer insist on him doing the film, he asked.
The producer told him that it was Pandiarajan who asked him to book Mani Ratnam as director and seek his dates. Mani Ratnam narrated this in the presence of my guru K. Bhagyaraj, Vairamuthu and others. I was literally moved to tears. He is a world-renowned director and his words still ring in my ears.