Quick five Friday Review

Experimenting with the medium

Actor Bala   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

A ctor, producer and director – Bala has handled all these roles. Although born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, he is more of a Malayali these days, having done more films in Malayalam than in Tamil and also because he is married to Malayali singer Amrutha. Now there’s more. He is currently a jury member of the talent show, ‘Ugram Ujjwalam’ on Mazhavil Manorama. Bala talks about the show and his tryst with tinsel town. Excerpts:

On the mini screen

I have been a celebrity judge on many reality shows, but not a permanent jury member. Initially I was very apprehensive about taking up the offer, because even now the mini screen is not seen on a par with the big screen.

If you start working for a television programme, people start wondering why a film star is working for the small screen. Though it is true that there has been a lot of change in the scene, I was in two minds when the show came to me. But once I saw the auditions, I had no other option but to agree. The kind of talent you see on the show is unbelievable.

Platform for talent

As you know ‘Ugram Ujjwalam’ showcases extraordinary talents, some of whom have overcome physical disabilities as well. It is tough to judge them. There is no elimination. Some of them are given direct entry to the finals by the three-member panel [the other two jury members are actress-entrepreneur Poornima Indrajith and dancer-actress Sudha Chandran]. In some cases, we ask them to come up with more innovative items. We also have the power to disqualify contestants as and when the situation arises. What makes me really happy and proud is that India has so much talent and Kerala is giving a platform for them.

As an actor

My grandfather A.K. Velan used to run Arunachalam Studios, my father, Jayakumar, is a director and my brother Siva is a cinematographer and director. So, it was natural for people to expect me to enter tinsel town. But I was in a dilemma because I was good in studies and has been very passionate about computers. There came a point when I had to choose between acting and engineering. And all credit goes to my father who gave me the correct advice. He told me, ‘I believe you are an actor.’ So I discontinued my engineering and enrolled for Bachelor of Business Administration. Before I finished the course I became an actor [his debut film was Anbu] and while studying there, I was a chief guest for one of the events.

Career highs and lows

I accept that I have made a lot of wrong choices as an actor. Of course, there were films such as Big B and Puthiya Mugham which got me noticed. I took up the negative role in Puthiya Mugham after sitting on it for over a year. There were a few other movies in which I had good roles, but the movies didn’t do well. I am taking things as they come.

Up next

I am currently doing Ennu Ninte Moideen with Prithviraj, another full-length role with Prithviraj after Puthiya Mugham. My last Tamil movie was Ajith’s Veeram, directed by my brother and the same team is coming back together for a big budget movie. After making and producing the bi-lingual The Hitlist, I realised that I am a good producer. Direction was actually an attempt to enhance the actor in me. Doing direction, production and acting simultaneously was like acting in 15 movies and I cherish that experience. The film did reasonably well and so that way I learnt the business side as well. At present, I am involved in the running of our studio and balancing it with my acting career.

‘Ugram Ujjwalam’ airs on Mondays to Thursdays on Mazhavil Manorama at 8 p.m.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 12:14:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/experimenting-with-the-medium/article6808001.ece

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