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A comedian's makeover

Turning his perceived weakness into strength, this actor-director has managed to switch roles in Kollywood with ease


HE IS no hero material. His stature does not help him either. Yet R. Pandiarajan has managed to stay afloat for more than two decades in Kollywood. After trying his hand at direction and acting in commercial cinema, he's now into parallel cinema with `Magan', a short film on child labour and prohibition.

The short film directed by Pandiarajan was screened at the International Children's Film Festival held in Hyderabad recently and won him critical acclaim. How does he feel about the makeover? "I felt very happy. There are certain times when you have a great sense of satisfaction. And this was one such moment. To get your film screened in a festival which saw the participation of German, Chinese and Finnish movies is in itself an achievement. The reception that I received is something I can never forget. It was indeed very special."

In town at the invitation of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) the actor spent some time chatting about his movie career. "I always wanted to be an actor, but ended up becoming an assistant director," he says. Though he never dreamt of donning the greasepaint again, things took a turn and he was forced to act in a movie directed by him. "As no one was willing to play the role of Pandian's (the hero) brother, I decided to act. It clicked (remember the `muttiducha' scene)," he says. From there, his thiruttu muzhi also became a trademark.

Is it intentional or done just to attract attention? "It just happened. And as people liked it, I landed up doing such roles in the films that followed," Pandiarajan says. What does he think is his USP? "My brand of comedy-I always get into trouble and try to get out of it. My looks and stature helped."

This comedian knows his limitations, figuratively and otherwise. "Looks and stature do not matter in tinseldom. If they count so much, then only those who have these attributes would have succeeded. But this has not been the case. All you need is the capability to entertain the audience," he points out. But ironically these are the factors that came in the way of Pandiarajan's dream of becoming an actor.

He is the one who is unperturbed by his physique as well. "I know what suits me best. I never venture into areas that I do not know," he says.

How important is body language for a comedian? "It plays a vital role. But it should be character-based. Otherwise it would become stale," he points out.

"Though Aan Paavam ran for 200 days, I consider Gopala Gopala as a hit because it was released at a time when satellite TV was ruling the roost and video piracy was high," he explains.

The actor says he writes novels and short stories when he's not shooting. His first book `Thedal' has just been released. Why does he write books?

"I read a lot and developed interest in them. As I had written dialogues and scripts for movies, I felt confident about writing a book. Moreover, I believe in the dictum `Oyvukku oyvu kodukka vendum'," he says with a smile.

M. ALLIRAJAN

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