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Chasing his dreams

Siddharth would rather be a director than an actor


THERE IS a cobweb on the window sill of the hotel room where I am waiting to meet Siddharth. Surprising, as most up-market hotels are maniacally tidy, so window sills tend to be spotlessly clean.

Caught in this cobweb is a teeny-weeny butterfly. If I weren't bored stiff, waiting for the actor to make his appearance, I'd not have noticed it. The butterfly tries to free itself, and when it tries to extricate itself from the web, it gets entangled all the more. The flimsy wings look as though they are going to tear apart. The butterfly looks doomed. Yet, it continues its struggle for freedom.

The situation, thematically at least, suits the occasion. Siddharth is here to talk about how his father's untimely death changed the entire course of his life. An actor who would rather be a director, but, is forced by circumstances to stop chasing his dreams.

When the actor arrives, he looks all drained out. He is not your regular gum-chewing yuppie film star. Neither does he possess the kind of looks that would set many a heart aflutter. But there is something in the way he speaks about his life and dreams, and more importantly, the sincerity in his eyes that forces you not to dismiss him as yet another wannabe.

He speaks about his career in films post his debut in Kamal's `Nammal'. He has the ambition and the grit to keep himself going, but lacks the cut-throat attitude that film industry generally demands. Siddharth's strength, perhaps, lies in the fact that he does not let that mar his confidence in his abilities. His self-belief is what has seen him come out a survivor.

Filmmaking

"I hadn't decided what I wanted to do in my life. I have always been fascinated by the process of filmmaking. But never ever did I dream that I'd become an actor. Life changed after my dad died," he says.

"I stopped fooling around; I had only my mom and sister. I still remember the day he died - I was hoping he'd get better. But he didn't," says Siddharth.

After his graduation, Siddharth signed up for `Nammal'. It wasn't easy deciding to do films and sticking on with acting, says Siddharth, and adds that he owes his break in films to Kamal.

As he speaks, Siddharth expresses himself through gestures as subtle as changing the aperture of his eyes. Sometimes, he answers question with the kind of forthrightness that more seasoned actors avoid in favour of bland diplomacy, but at times, he comes up with statements like, "I'm scared to be honest with people. They misunderstand me. I've learned to be more careful with my words."

At times when the situation is not quite to his liking, Siddharth tends to clam up. "You must be wondering why I'm still into acting, now that I've told you that my heart isn't in it. I believe in giving my best shot in whatever I do. This is the second phase of my career as an actor. Let me see where it takes me," he says, adding that he is choosing the scripts with more caution.

His caution is understandable considering his previous film, `Kaakakarumban', directed by M. A. Venu had a "lukewarm response" at the box office. His film, `Youth Festival', is yet to hit the theatre and another is sort-of hanging in the limbo.

These days, unless something about the script touches Siddharth instinctively, he does not sign up. "I wanted to do Lal Jose's `Rasikan'. I am working on Priyanandanan's next venture, `Athu Mandhara Poovalla', based on M. T. Vasudevan Nair's work. I couldn't have asked for more. I know working with Priyanandanan on this film will be an experience worth cherishing," he explains.

Siddharth would give anything to be able to concentrate on filmmaking. But life demands that he put his dreams on hold.

"For now I'm happy learning more about cinema," he says. Perhaps, that is why he is on the sets till late in the night observing cameraman Rajiv Ravi (of `Chandni Bar' fame, cranks the camera for `Rasikan') at work. Learning the ropes of the trade? "Yeah!"

Dreams

If there is one thing that hounds him, it is the fear that he may never be able to follow in his father's footsteps. "I love my dad's films, not because they were made by him. But because the films were made by the filmmaker, Bharathan," he declares. If he does take to filmmaking, then, living up to the expectations of the audience would be a tall order for this 22-year-old lanky actor. "I still haven't given up hope. I'm optimistic. I hope a few years later, I shall be able to take up direction," he says. Meanwhile, the butterfly has dislodged itself from the web and flown away - revelling in its freedom.

HITS N' MISSES

`Lajja' (Hindi) - Assisted Madhu Ambat during the shooting of two songs in it.

`Kaathu Kaathu' - Short film made in college.

`Nammal' - Debut film. A hit.

`Kakakarumban' - Lukewarm response.

`Youth Festival'- Slated to hit the screen.

`Ennitum' - Work yet to be wrapped up.

`Rasikan' - Current project.

`Athu Mandhara Poovalla' - Slated to go on the floors.

`Zombie' - Siddharth's dream project. SMITHA SADANANDAN

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