Making up stories

A family affair P. Vasu (right) with his son Sakthi

A family affair P. Vasu (right) with his son Sakthi  

P. Vasu plans a sequel to ‘Chandramukhi’ and brings Sridevi and Kamal Hasan back together for a bilingual

It’s been two years since Chandramukhi released but people still watch it as if it were the first time. P Vasu, the director talks about the sequel, his father and make up artiste Pitambaram and all the stars who frequented his home when he was a child and reveals that his son Sakthi will be making his debut as an actor very soon. That he’s bringing back Sridevi to act with Kamal Hasan in a Telugu-Tamil bilingual is another coup of sorts for this talented filmmaker.

“I remember NTR and his wife frequenting my house when I was very young. My sister and brother’s wedding took place in their presence. NTR’s eldest daughter and my sister got married on the same day….on 20th may 1972 and despite his own busy schedule, NTR came to bless my sister. People in Chennai joke that if my father would apply make up on anyone that person is bound to become a chief minister because both NTR and MGR were CMs. S.V. Ranga Rao, Gemini Ganesan, Savitri, K.R. Vijaya… everyone would come home for the make up session. NTR would wake up at 2am and would be ready by 3am. My father would take around one and a half hours on him. We even had a separate and a permanent toilet for these artistes at home.”

The director says that all artistes had immense respect for his father and that a make up man was like a guru. The artistes would pray before putting on make up, close their eyes and touch Pitambaram’s hands when he would apply tilak on their forehead. When NTR would don the role of Krishna or Rama in some films, both Pitambaram and NTR would lie on the mat, eat vegetarian food and sometimes fast too.

Anyone with such an atmosphere at home is bound to be attracted towards the industry, and Vasu was no exception. He says, “As a child I was inclined more on acting than direction. I would watch keenly on how the wigs were prepared at home, the entire process of mixing the colour. In the night my father’s assistant would apply oil to the hair, brush the wig, put the clips, heat it while taking it out the clips, to get the curls. I would watch all this from my bedroom window and sometimes stealthily go in, take the clips and put it on my hair and go to sleep. I would wake up next day feeling like a Sivaji Ganesan or an MGR. My father never knew I was interested in acting and he always believed that acting was not a reliable profession. I seemed to have abandoned the idea of acting. Later I found myself watching films and narrating the stories to my friends in school. If the school would begin at nine I would reach there by eight and narrate the story for an hour. My first film as an assistant director was with Sridhar who made Vayasu Pilichindhi, a dubbed movie.”

Vasu terms Chandramukhi an epic. It has completed 804 days run recently, and it’s the first film in South India to create a record. He says, “Success is not made, it just comes. Even after two years people watch the DVD regularly. People tell me they have watched the film at least 20 times. My kids watch the film everyday. No one has ever directed their own film twice and I’m going to do it. I’m working on the sequel to Chandramukhi . It will release in 2010 and it will be called Paneer Pushpam.”

He adds, “My father is proud of me and he introduces himself as ‘Vasu’s father’. One day I would like to be able to do the same with my son.”

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