My first break

How it happened

I was working in a garment factory on a salary of Rs. 800, far removed from the world of glamour. I was an actor’s son and so, purposely avoided that field. Offers had been coming my way ever since I was in Class X, but I was just not interested.

At some stage, I realised as the eldest son, I had to take the responsibility at home. I knew I had to change careers. When Vasant Sir narrated the story of Nerukku Ner (produced by Mani Ratnam), I listened to it in a hurry, and agreed to do it. My friends didn’t believe me and laughed when I told them about it. Only when I went to Mani Ratnam’s office for the screen test (by K. V. Anand), did it sink in. I did not expect to click as an actor as I was shy, couldn’t dance and was not even good looking. But, Vasanth encouraged me to do well.

How it felt

I watched the film in Udayam theatre, and when the audience applauded some of the scenes where I appeared, it was a magical moment for me. Where I could see only my mistakes, the people saw something else. All I remember of that day are the light on the screen and the claps.

How life changed

For two-three years following that, I didn’t do good films. I needed a good director. When Nandha happened, everything changed. I became a serious actor, and director Bala instilled in me the discipline to work without committing errors. Kaakha Kaakha, Pithamagan, Ghajini and other good films followed. Now, it’s Gautham Menon’s Vaaranamayiram (a superb script) and K. V. Anand’s Ayan that occupy my mind and time. Till now, I wanted my wife Jo, who is my inspiration, to be proud of my work. Now, I want my daughter Diya to feel the same.


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