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Chasing dreams


HE IS late. The appointment for 10 a.m. is rescheduled for noon. And then, way past evening. He calls up to say he's been held up on the sets due to some change in the schedule of the shooting.

When the actor arrives for the interview, he looks all drained out.

Sidharth is here to speak about himself, on films that have inspired him, and also about how his life has changed after the untimely death of his father, noted filmmaker Bharathan.

Not a wannabe

Sidharth 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, his dreams and fears, and more importantly, the sincerity in his eyes that forces you not to dismiss him as yet another wannabe.

Films, he tells you, have always been his first love. "I had to work on a project film during my graduation in visual communications. Mine was called `Kaathu Kaathu'. We had a shoestring budget and wanted to incorporate crane shots. But my friends and I devised our own way to shoot the film the way we wanted. We had managed to include top angle shots in the film. While editing, I realised that my work wasn't bad after all. The rush of adrenalin, the joy of having made a film is something I can't explain to you," says Sidharth.

He need not tell you more about how happy he had been; it's all visible on his visage. "My friends wanted me to shoot their films too and I was only too happy to do that," he recalls.

Mature

When you speak to him, what strikes you first is his maturity and understanding. It is not something you would usually expect from a youngster.

This up-and-coming actor made his foray into the world of celluloid not long ago. He has the ambition and the grit to keep himself going, but lacks the cut-throat attitude that film industry generally demands. Sidharth'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 helped him survive.

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 Sidharth.

After his graduation, Sidharth signed up for `Nammal'. It wasn't easy deciding to do films and sticking on with acting, says Sidharth. "I owe my break in films to Kamal," he adds.

As he speaks, Sidharth expresses himself through gestures as subtle as changing the aperture of his eyes. Sometimes, he answers questions 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 and misconstrue whatever I say. I've learned to be more careful with my words."

At times, when the situation is not quite to his liking, Sidharth 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, Sidharth does not sign up, unless something about the script touches him instinctively.

"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.

Sidharth 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 Rajeev Ravi (of `Chandni Bar' fame, cranks the camera for `Rasikan') at work. They sit and watch films till late into the night, discussing various aspects of cinematography. Learning the ropes of the trade? "Yeah!"

Dreams and fears

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 father'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 make films," he says.

SMITHA SADANANDAN

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