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Anchored to success

Gautham has become synonymous with "Thillana! Thillana!" a dance programme on Sun TV. A profile of the actor-anchor.

WHEN AN artiste is remembered for his powerful role in any medium or an anchor identified by the show he conducts, therein lies the true measure of his success. What Gautham is happy about is, whenever he is recognised by fans, it is with a resounding — ``Thillana! Thillana!'' And that is an indication of the success of his dance programme on Sun TV. When there are programmes that peter out even before their 25th episode, here we have ``Thillana! Thillana!'' which has completed 220-plus episodes.

On the success of the show, Gautham says, ``I attribute it to Sun TV's accent on quality, the acumen of directors Joseph Gautham and S. Balakrishnan, and of course, to the tremendous energy, infectious enthusiasm and the overwhelming response of the contestants. Everything about the show — the change of rounds, steps, music, introduction, judgment and even the compering — is so fast-paced that I am rendered breathless at the end of it."

If his father, veteran actor Major Sunderarajan, was lucky to bag some plum roles at the opportune moments in his career, Gautham has been very enterprising in all the diversified areas he has trod on. After his B.Com. and PG Diploma in Computer Science he had a stint in the movie industry doing several roles beginning with `Jothi Malar' till "Elumalai" as of date. But he claims K. Balachander's ``Vaaname Ellai'' to be his most memorable movie. Perhaps that is why his `star' son is named Dhuruva! His father has always been supportive of all his endeavours, says Gautham.

His TV career commenced with 7th Channel's ``Vazhvin Vaasal'' and since then he has featured in hundreds of serials and mega soaps ``Enga Veetu Penn'' and ``Anbulla Snehidiye''. Gautham is grateful to director Manobala for entrusting him with an assortment of roles.

And how did he take to the dance floor? "Those were the days when Anand Babu was the rage. I expressed my desire to my cousin Vijayalakshmi that if properly tutored, I too could scale such dizzy heights. She scoffed at me, and I took this up as a challenge and now, I am a successful dancer. It was due to her motivation that I could make it. Gautham lists the names of Sundaram, Kala master, Puliyur Saroja, Prabhu Deva, Raju Sundaram and several other veteran dance tutors and choreographers from whom he had learnt dance.

Incidentally, he even learnt ballet from an instructor at the Galinova Ulanova School of Ballet. Bu,t at present, ``my wife is my teacher''. His wife Kokila is from Brunei and is a qualified dance teacher from Nan Yang University, Singapore. The two of them as partners would have completed over a thousand shows. Not satisfied with being mere dance partners on stage they decided to become life partners. His favourite dancers were the late Jean Kelly and Fred Astaire. In India, he rates Javed Jaffrey as a great performer.

As for the programme in question, he auditioned along with several others in 1998 and since luck favoured him he landed the anchor's job. Every six months, about 40 groups are selected.

There is no age limit and all other details are entirely left to the creativity and originality of the contestants.

Even the audience in the studio comprises friends of the contestants. All in all, it is a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to exhibit their talent. And Gautham encourages them to take up dancing as a profession as it is definitely a paying one.

THARA MOHAN RAO

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