A child at heart but a thorough professional on the screen, twelve-year-old Vijay bagged the Best Child Artiste award for his Kannada film `War and Freedom'. A tête-à-tête with the child star.
LITTLE THESPIAN: Vijay's performance in `War and Freedom' was well appreciated.
`MASTER' VIJAY is twelve years old and literally the star of the First Asian Film Festival strutting up and about like a child, but with the mind and confidence of a professional artiste. Apparently, after a screening of the Kannada film, War and Freedom where he is the protagonist at one of the festival venues, hundreds of children and people crowded around to see him, cheer him and wave out the way they do in the presence of any super star.
The film War and Freedom, made by M.D. Kaushik, won Vijay the State award as the `Best Child Artiste'. The film is a comment on the price of freedom, focussing on a simple tale of a poor school child unable to participate in the school's Independence Day parade because he cannot afford the price of the uniform. The boy, born in a family of freedom fighters, ultimately pays a huge price for taking part in the parade by stealing the uniform.
Vijay also happens to be the winner of the `National Balasree award' from the Bal Bhavan, and has so far acted in 15 Kannada films and five serials. As a Balasree awardee, Vijay got the opportunity to travel to Mongolia, China and Thailand. In Mongolia, Vijay even directed his own play adapted from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, for which he was given the local `Nairamdal Oscar Academy award' and a gold medal.
"I started acting from the age of eight," he says. "My first film was Chennappa Chenne Gowda, directed by Anand Raj." How did that film happen? "I was dancing at a hundred-day function of a popular Kannada film, when this director spotted me and gave me a role." Vijay has won over 100 prizes for cultural activities, including drawing, singing and elocution.
Besides, he is also seriously training in Hindustani vocal music and Bharatanatyam. How does he manage to balance education with his absolutely busy acting career? He says, "I take my books with me when I am shooting, and study whenever I get the time. My teachers and principal (at the Ramakrishna School) in Mysore are also very understanding and cooperative. When they know I have acting offers and shooting dates, they make extra efforts to make me complete the portions and the syllabus so that I can be on par with my classmates even while I am away from school. There is no problem."
Although Vijay is a `veteran' in the realm of cinema, now, at this tender age, this is his first outing to a film festival, and his third visit to the city. Of all the films screened at the Asian Children's Film Festival, he liked Willow and Window (Iran). He is absolutely certain that children in the country "need many more children's films." And he adds, like a wizened sage, "when they can spend so much money on scientific development, why can't they spend some of that money on making children's films? We need more popular children's films otherwise people think children's films are like art films. I like films like Chota Chetan. In my State, there are more children's films now. But they don't show children's films in schools. Sometimes, they show comedy movies and cartoons." Vijay feels even in children's film festivals, importance is given to heroes and heroines, and not to children.
"Children's film festivals should have children in important positions organising and co-coordinating the festivals. These activities will make children good citizens," he feels.
For a small boy coming from a humble middleclass background, Vijay aims high and wishes to attend many such film festivals. In fact, he informs with pride, having been invited to Iran by Iranian Cultural Counsellor, Issa Rezazadeh, he looks forward to going there someday, and to other countries too, to attend film festivals.
R. UMA MAHESHWARI
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