METRO PLUS

Donning a new mantle

IF K.R. Vijaya was the ``Punnagai Arasi'' of the big screen, Mala Manian could perhaps be called the ``Punnagai Arasi'' of the small screen for, with her winsome smile, she has launched at least a 100 programmes on television with big effect. Mala, who has for long been associated with 7th Channel Communications, as its chief executive, has now been entrusted with the production of its latest offering ``Uravugal Oru Thodarkathai'' on DD-1 (week days from 3.00-3.30 p.m.).

Incidentally, 7th Channel Communications' 17th teleproduction, ``Marupadiyum Aval'' has been launched in the 17th year of its existence. It is being telecast on STAR Vijay (Monday through Friday at 10.00 p.m).

``The promotion has not come overnight. To my satisfaction, it has happened after I have become familiar with all the nuances of the trade,'' says Mala.

How did she become a producer? The story of "Uravugal Oru Thodarkathai" revolves round a woman and has a woman director, editor, lyricist and singer and so the mantle of production rightfully fell on her.

Is there a difference between the two roles? ``Well, if the chief executive is a minister of Cabinet rank with an important portfolio, the producer is the finance minister who has the ultimate say in everything, right from discussion of the story."

``Manickam Narayanan, producer, 7th Channel Communications, delegates responsibility to all departments and does not interfere otherwise. He views the final output and if unhappy with a scene, has it redone, unmindful of the cost. But with a woman as producer it is more economical," says Mala and adds, ``We are more tense, hence we discuss all the angles with the director and lay the scene on paper in its entirety. With so many years of experience, we know what the viewers want and, therefore, shoot the scene once and for all.''

Even in her school days, Mala was always into music, dance and the fine arts. After graduating in English Literature from the Queen Mary's College, Chennai, she spent a year in the Middle East as receptionist at a Konica Centre. Her return to India saw her introduction to 7th Channel Communications by her friend, Nitya. Appointed as a counter assistant, Mala was sent to Japan in 1987 for a month's training in colour photography, processing and printing. (This stands Mala in good stead now.) It was then 7th Channel planned its first tele-interview with director K. Balachander. The interviewer failed to turn up and Mala rose to the occasion and went about the interview. Marked by spontaneity, the programme went down well with the viewers and thenceforth, there was no looking back for Mala.

THARA MOHAN RAO

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