Theatre

From banker to actor

T. V. Varadharajen receiving an award from MGR  

In this 'Ask the Artist' column, a well-known personality answers questions by fans and readers. This time, it is TV and theatre artist S. Varadharajen, whose responses are often laced with humour.

Tell me how to overcome stage fear?

M.S.Vaidyanathan,

Chennai



Before making your appearance on stage pan through the audience. Make eye contact with them. Tell yourself that you are going to give them new information . It will give you the confidence.

Why do I feel rejuvenated every time I watch a stage play, more than other audio-visual media?

Dr. R. Devarajan,

Chennai

Because it is live and you identify with the characters on stage. After the show, you can even meet the actors to pan or praise their roles and the play. This immediacy cannot happen with films or TV serials.



You have been a newsreader, acted in serials, and currently, a stage artist. Which job are you passionate about and why did you quit being a newsreader?

Gopalkrishnan,

Chennai

I started my career in Bank of India, whose emblem is the star. They allowed me to pursue my passion, which made me a star. Friends and fans say I am successful because I am multifaceted. The reality is I enjoy whatever I do — banker, newsreader or actor. Although TV made me popular, it is restrictive, unlike theatre where one can improvise daily. In banking, one goes by the rules, in news reading also one cannot change a single word, but on stage one can extemporise. As for news reading, I still do that every morning over a steaming cup of coffee – I read The Hindu. Jokes apart, it was an effort tackling questions at the different jobs I did. In the bank, people would ask me about the serials; while shooting for serials, my co-actors would ask me about bank interests and deposits; in the television studio, I would be asked about my next play. Finally, I decided to settle for theatre and quit the other jobs. I did the serials under my guru K. Balachander because I learnt the nuances from him. Later I began to concentrate on theatre and Cho gave me permission to stage his script, ‘Endru Thaniyum Indha Sudhandhira Dhagam.’ At that time I thought nothing was a bigger achievement than doing the play. Now after the success of ‘Sri Thyagarajar,’ I feel nothing is more satisfying than the stage . After a four-year gap, I am doing a serial, ‘Thamarai’ and I am happy with the recognition and should thank the Radaan team.

As an artist do you draw from your inner strength to give your best?

Ln D.Rajagopalan,

Coimbatore.

My strength lies in the commitment to theatre that focuses on the middle class. In the drama circle, I am known as the middle aged, middle class hero. During the early years of your lifeyou performed religious discourses with your brother Dhamal Ramakrishnan and sister Dhamal Perundevi. Then you became a newsreader and an actor. How did these transitions happen?

D.S. Rajagopalan,

Chennai

My father D.V. Srinivasan was a Sanskrit scholar. While my brother and sister imbibed the knowledge of the epics and scriptures from him, I the love for theatre.

In fact, when I sat behind my brother and sister chanting slokas with them, my attention would be more on the drama in the story. At home, I would write a script with dialogue about the conversation between Rama and Bharathan, Guhan and Bharathan, Vaali and Rama, and enact. Thus, the transition from religious discourses to theatre was smooth. It was also welcomed by my parents.

What is the difference between today’s audience and those of the past?

Ananthapadmanabhan,

Rasipuram.

There is no difference. Audiences continue to enjoy breezy family comedies and those that touch upon middle class issues. During 1970s, plays ran for more than two hours and the audience sat through patiently. Today people prefer plays of shorter duration . But after the success of ‘Sri Thyagarajar,’ which runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes without a break, I realised a good production with a gripping storyline is what the audience wants. Many people even wait after the play to greet us.

How come you chose Tyagaraja as a subject after having staged social plays and comedies?

Vedicravi,

Chennai

My troupe and I like challenging scripts that ‘Sri Thyagarajar’ proved to be. It was different from what we had done in the past. We rehearsed for 60 days, and everyone was present on all days. It showed their commitment.

Everyone loves you including me. What is your secret?

J Balasubramanian



I am blessed to have patrons and friends like you and the love and affection is mutual.

Did your experience as a news reader sharpen your skills in dialogue delivery and aided perfect timing?

R. Sivakumar,

Chennai



No. It’s the other way round. I started my acting career before I became a news reader. In fact, my experience on stage helped me in modulating my reading of the news as per the content. When India won the first World Cup in cricket in 1983, I read the news. Viewers told me that even before I read it, my expression gave away the happy tidings.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 10:26:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/varadharajen-answers-readers-questions/article8620685.ece

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