S.R. Ashok Kumar
"I decided to enter the world of films in standard X, but waited till I finished my studies to take the plunge"
CHENNAI: Susi Ganesan has directed three movies and acted in one, his latest Thiruttu Payale. He reminisces on his student days and his path to fame.
I finished school in my village, Vannivelampatti near Karaikudi, and did my graduation in Chennai. I was also a student reporter for Ananda Vikadan then. In MIT, I was made chairman of the students association. I received the best project award in my department and the `best outgoing student award for the 1992 batch. My project was on `Automotive gear shifting without operating the clutch'.
I decided to enter the film world in standard X, but waited till I finished my studies before I took the plunge. After my studies, I wanted to work as an assistant to director Mani Ratnam, who I think is the best in the country. I tried to meet him but couldn't then. One day, I met him through art director Thotta Tharani. `Mani sir' initially discouraged me from entering films. But, I was firm about my decision. So, he asked me to write a review of a film or a one-line script of a new story. I gave him a one-line gist of a story, which later became Five Star. Mani sir liked it. After working with Mani sir in Bombay, Iruvar and Dil se, I did Virumbukirean, with Prasanth and Sneha in the lead. The movie was released a year after it was completed. During this time, Mani sir made me do Five Star under his banner. So, Five Star, which was released before Virumbikirean, became my debut movie.
Both these films fared fairly well at the box office. Virumbikirean bagged five state awards and Five Star two state awards. After that I wanted to do something really big. I decided to do make Thiruttu Payale. The producer of the movie, Kalpathi S. Agoram wanted the movie to be stylish and grand with a big star cast. Actors Jeevan, Sonia Agarwal and Malavika fit the bill.
I owe my success to people such as Mani sir who made me what I am today. He not only made me his assistant but also gave me a film to direct when I was dejected. I am also grateful to producers Kalpathi Agoram and his brothers Ganesh and Suresh.
Despite other attractions on television, including the soccer World Cup, the West Indies cricket series and daily serials, Thiruttu Payale has been running well in all the places that it was released.
Now, I have received more than 10 offers to direct films, including a Hindi venture. I have decided to do another film for Kalpathi Agoram.
I wanted to address two common issues of present day society bribery and adultery in Thiruttu Payale.
Mani sir, of course, is among my favourite directors. My other favourites are K. Balachander, Bharathiraja and Sridhar.