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Meeting the real hero

APJ Abdul Kalam Illustration by Subyendu Ganguly  

Remember the comedy scene in the 2002 hit Tamil film Run when Vivek jumps into the Cooum? Well, it was while shooting that very sequence that the actor-comedian got a call from Abdul Kalam’s office.

“I came out of the water, took a bath and went straight to meet Kalam sir,” he recalls, “That was my first meeting with the man.”

They spoke about a few things and Vivek got an autograph — Kalam was still a scientist then — but the meeting left a huge impression on the actor.

“I kept following his work after that,” he says. And then, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam went on to become President. “I was in Delhi once — to shoot for Rajinikanth’s Sivaji — and requested an interview with him. I was granted five minutes, but once he started speaking, he talked well… for almost 45.”

Vivek was so impressed with Kalam’s words of wisdom that he became a bhakt, almost. He spoke about the President at many public functions and included references to the man in his films.

It was in 2010, during a meeting at Raj Bhavan, Chennai, that the comedian-actor was inspired to take things from talk to action. “I remember that day clearly as I had brought him some upma, a dish he loves. While we were chatting, he gave me a book and asked me to read a short piece he’d penned in it. It was an imaginative piece about a tree talking to a man.”

It moved the actor. But that was not enough for Kalam.

“He said that I should take the initiative to plant more trees as that was the only way to prevent the effects of global warming. He also told me that instead of talking about him in my films, I should spread awareness on global warming and afforestation,” recalls Vivek. That was how project Green Kalam was born. About 27 lakh saplings have been planted in Tamil Nadu till date, informs the actor. “Kalam sir was with us when we crossed the 10-lakh mark at Cuddalore,” he says. “At that function, he told us that we should not stop and aim at planting a crore saplings in the State. That’s what I hope to achieve in the coming years.”

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 12:38:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/actorcomedian-vivek-shares-his-memories-of-the-late-apj-abdul-kalam/article7474103.ece

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