It's all about choices
After 12 years actor Thyagarajan makes a comeback. In "Jai", his forthcoming home production, he will co-star with son Prashanth. The duo in a tete-a-tete...
IT IS 12 years since Thyagarajan, the actor, went into hibernation. But now he plans to make a re-entry with his home production, "Jai". The real life father of popular star, Prashanth, will play the same role on reel too. "This is not a gimmick," he hastens to explain. "Prashanth had always wanted me to do a film with him but I kept postponing it now that there's a suitable role in "Jai" I am doing it ... that's all." In fact Thyagarajan had even stopped posing for the press more than a decade ago.
In a casual chat with the father and son, the former was forthright about his own past and his son's future, while Prashanth seemed quite contented to toe the line. It was one complete mutual admiration society, with Thyagarajan singing paeans to his son and Prashanth in turn showering eulogy on the father.
The senior's acting career ...
Thyagarajan was doing quite well as a leading man when the dedicated dad decided to call it quits. "No hero in the industry was catapulted to fame and success at such a young age as Prashanth had been ... he was just 16 when his first film "Vaikasi Porandhachuchu" was released... " he begins. Thyagarajan's "Salem Vishnu" had also made it to the theatres at the same time. (A surprising fact about "Salem Vishnu" is that Sarath Kumar had acted as Thyagarajan's elder brother in the film). Soon Prashanth was doing one film each in Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi, apart from his Tamil commitments and Thyagarajan felt that the lad was naïve and inexperienced to be left on his own. That's when he decided to put his career in the backburner and give his all for the promotion of his son's career something he's been doing ever since.
The father's grip ...
Thyagarajan holds the reins so firmly that today one hears many a tale about Prashanth being totally under his control. None can get a word in edgeways with the young hero without the senior's watchful eye, crib people. Thyagarajan fields the charge with calm definitely this was not the first time he was hearing about it. "I have to be sure Prashanth is doing the right thing. I know about every small and big time producer here ... who can deliver the goods and who cannot ... so I guide him."
Yet the unpopularity he faces for being caring, straightforward and strict must be a gnawing thought ... "Not at all ... because it is those who cannot afford a star like Prashanth in their films who spread such canard. It has no truth," he says.
The son ... on his own ...
Will there come a time when Prashanth will make his own decisions?
"Of course ... after "Jeans" he has been listening to stories, meeting people... " adds Thyagarajan. And does he also take a final decision about accepting or rejecting a film? "No way ... that I do," is the protective father's emphatic reply. "Sometimes he does come up with ideas about business and other things. But if it involves risks that we can do without, I tell him so." Thyagarajan is indeed lucky to have a son for whom the dad's word is gospel.
"I'm lucky too ... " Prashanth jumps to his father's defence. "It's not a case of implicit obedience. I do talk things out with him and if I accept his decisions it's only because he convinces me."
But how long will Prashanth remain a fledgling and when will he ever learn to fly, are thoughts that linger in your mind.
Wrong decisions ...
And it is not as though all the decisions that Thyagarajan made for his son have been right. Prashanth did have his share of flops, like "Piriyadha Varam Vaendum", "Star" and "Good Luck"... "I agree ... there have been wrong moves. It was sheer bad luck that I allowed him to do a film like "Good Luck". That's why I am now producing a film for him ... he's got wonderful ideas about computer graphics and the latest in fights. "Jai" will have all these and much more.
Labelled the "ever-interfering" father...
Thyagarajan just smiles ... "Prashanth has worked with the likes of Balu Mahendra, Mani Ratnam and Shankar. Do you really believe that I could interfere with the work of these people? It is those who are not very sure of their job who have a problem with me."
"Jai"s new director ...
Then it is rather strange that Madhesh, hitherto associate of Shankar, and a producer and distributor in his own right, should be making his debut as director with "Jai'. "Why ... Ravichandran was new when he made the successful film with Prashanth and Simran. Capability is the criterion. Also Madhesh has proved that he has the Midas touch." Thyagarajan defends his choice. Madhesh was the co-producer of "Jeans" and later produced "Chocklet" with Prashanth again. So the association continues again with "Jai".
Producer-director rapport ...
So it could mean that for once there would be no producer-director heartburns we hear so much about ... Thyagarajan laughs aloud. "In the history of cinema there has not been a producer who was not at loggerheads with his director at some point. The problem begins when the producer is not willing to provide what the director asks for. If my director justifies the expense, then there should be no hassle... " Thyagarajan himself directed "Aanazhagan", a home production, with son Prashanth in the lead. Yet now he has chosen to remain a producer-actor for "Jai". "That's because I wanted to give a capable youngster like Madhesh, a chance," he says.
As a beginner ...
From a medical rep to regional manager of Polydor, to film production, direction and histrionics, Thyagarajan's career has meandered through many a course. The job at the recording company helped him rub shoulders with the best composers of the time. "Music has always fascinated me ... and slowly it led me into production. Acting, of course, was sheer accident."
Bharatiraja's "Alaigal Oivadhillai" marked his foray into films. The show stopped with "Komberi Mookan", till the father stepped aside to mould Prashanth's career. Beginning with a Kannada venture in 1979 that had Rajinikanth as the villain, (it was Rajini's third film) Thyagarajan has produced more than half a dozen films. But now between the new project "Jai", his role in the film and Prashanth's career, he probably has his hands full.
Again to Prashanth ...
The young hero seems to be enthralled with "Jai". "The film is a remake of the Telugu blockbuster "Adi" that had Junior NTR as its hero. The stunt choreographer is from Hong Kong and the special effects are by a Hollywood crew. "Jai" is a next generation film with its earthy essence intact" Prashanth enthusiastically reels out details.
Now about the heroine ...
That seems to be the million-dollar question. "We want a young, talented, bubbly, beautiful ... " as Prashanth piles up epithets his father laughs aloud. "When a director explains a scene to be enacted, he would list half a dozen emotions that the hero should come up with in about 30 seconds... our search seems to be on similar lines ... a rather tall order."
And well... soon it would be time to look out for the young hero's real life heroine... "We want Prashanth to get married after "Jai". It's time I play with my grandchildren," the senior says fondly.
"I plan to produce one film a year ... and I will do a role only if I find something suitable... let's see," says Thyagarajan.
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