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Yen for the offbeat

G. M. Sundhar and Hans Koushik are astute, aspiring actors for whom the profession is more a passion. So it is for technician Alphonse Roy. MALATHI RANGARAJAN meets the committed youngsters.

Unflinching passion for cinema ... G.M.Sundhar.

BE IT editing or direction, it is redundant to mention that Lenin believes in being different. And when the deviation attracts the attention it deserves, the entire exercise becomes worthwhile — as it has in the case of Lenin's latest film, "Oorukku Nooru Paer'', which raises questions about the law of capital punishment.

"Oorukku Nooru Paer'' was to have been the inaugural film at the Bangalore International film festival — a first time honour for a Tamil film — but sadly, because of the September 11 tragedy in the U.S., the festival had to be cancelled. But it received rave reviews at the film festival in Kolkata. And again it was the inaugural film in the Indian panorama section at the international film festival in Mumbai recently.

"The response, I hear, was very encouraging and it should catch up in the West where capital punishment is a much discussed topic", says Alphonse Roy, the cinematographer of ``Oorukku Nooru Paer". It is rather puzzling that a committed wild life photographer like Alphonse should venture into regular cinema. ``Actually I have been wanting to shoot films — but I wasn't interested in purely commercial cinema, because I want every project I work in, to be a learning experience. And what better way to know cinema than working with a director of Lenin's stature" asks Alphonse.

For Hans Koushik who played the hero's role in the film, working in Lenin's film was a ... ``terrific experience. He is very disciplined, very focussed and is full of anecdotes", Hans and smiles cheerfully.

Hans is an out and out theatre person — he and his like-minded friends comprise the popular theatre group, Magic Lantern. "An actor is always looking for work, and when Lenin's assistant Abitha asked me to approach the director, I did....''

The only familiar face in ``Oorukku...'' is G. M. Sundhar. A film institute product, this aspirant is a picture of confidence and working in the film could have only increased it further. Unlike actors who either go in for commercial cinema or choose parallel cinema, Sundhar wants to work in both simultaneously.

From``Punnagai Mannan'' and ``Sathya'' to ``Nanbargal'' and the recent ``Mitta Mirasu", Sundhar's screen appearances have been many. He has also done offbeat films like ``Kaani Nilam''and "Oorukku....''

Sundhar actually acts out Lenin's way of working. `` That man is a philosopher", Sundhar sums up.

Having done documentaries for 20 years now Alphonse believes a lot in natural lighting. And adopting this is not always possible in cinema. But when "Oorukku...''offered him a chance to try it out, Alphonse jumped at it. ``Sidney Poitier is always a black man in films — he doesn't put on make-up to alter the colour. The perfect skin tone hence comes across. But we...'' sighs Alphonse.

Sundhar for instance is dark, but the role was perfectly played by him and nobody even thought of anything but being natural. Why does a hero have to be fair, is Sundhar's pertinent query. "Heroes like Rajinikanth broke the myth that lead role players have to possess traditional fairness and good looks. And this has paved way for people like us", smiles Sundhar.

To Hans Koushik, lighting, dubbing and other such aspects were not entirely familiar and hence everything was interesting. ``It was a complete learning experience", he says.

Hans Kaushik ... total commitment to theatre.

Sundhar plays a journalist in the film.``The working atmosphere was fantastic...", says Sundhar. The milieu in commercial cinema may be different but art film or otherwise, it should make no difference to an actor, is Sundhar's contention.

Sundhar goes to theatres, just to note how the public reacts to him. ``The feedback is very encouraging... people appreciate my body language and expressions... I am confident I'll make it big one day.''

He reads extensively about cinema, has done a film appreciation course in Pune and has taken part in many theatre workshops. Soon you could see him as a hero in Tamil cinema and a successful one at that. If Sundhar is obsessed with cinema, Hans is wedded to theatre. Of course, understandably his all-consuming interest at the moment is his five-month old son, Nandan.

"I am what you could call a crossover artiste", Hans laughs aloud. His degree in Sculpture, reveals another side of the artiste in him.

His theatre group took acting to schools — with a tie up with Child Relief and You (CRY) — and it was a rewarding venture. Incidentally Hans still teaches acting.

"Theatre is my profession", Hans says with pride. ``If big names in business come forward to help us out, we can take theatre here to great heights", says this die-hard optimist.

This optimism, among other things, is a common quality you notice in Hans and Sundhar. Both have been associated with Koothupattarai — a forum for talented actors. Gnani's Pariksha was also a familiar home ground for Sundhar.

"Hanuman'', filmed in Hampi, Hariharan's serial on the Azhwars and the French production on forest conservation are other `different' projects that Hans has worked in.

Again thinking actors like Sundhar and Hans Koushik, in one way or the other have an association with another committed one of their ilk — Nasser. Sundhar knows Nasser from his film institute days. And Nasser is a good friend of Hans too. He smiles gleefully as he says, ``Nasser gave me a hug after he watched the film and said, `Now I believe you can teach.' And that made me feel ooh... so great".

If sincerity and hard work can take one places, greater success awaits these young actors.

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