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Portrait of an actor

PRATHIBHA PARAMESWARAN'S tryst with the multi-faceted Sivakumar

Pic. by R.M.Rajarathinam

HIS IS a familiar face of four decades in Kollywood. A talented painter and a writer, he breathed life in to many a character and made films like `Sindubhairavi' and `Pournami Alaigal' memorable.

He is Sivakumar, who made his debut in the industry with the movie `Motor Sundaranpillai'.

Today, he has carved out a niche for himself, with not just his acting, but also with qualities that distinguishes him from other actors of his ilk in the industry. He is a reserved sort of a person, not reticent though. He is dignified with that touch of humility — a quality that astonishes all within and outside the tinsel town. But there is more to Sivakumar than the glamour of simply being an actor. He is a gifted painter and a writer too, as his recently released book — `Idhu Raja pattai alla'— reveals.

Tiruchiites got a rare opportunity to meet this multi-faceted personality when the Tiruchi chapter of the Indian Medical Association organised a private function last week.

During the interactive session with the audience, he opened up and took the crowd through the personalities he had worked with, was close to and who inspired him. The ones who have made him what he is today," he claimed modestly.

The painter in him

However, it was Sivakumar, the artist, who was more in frame that day. He unveiled his talent as a painter and showed the audience a few of his paintings done at various stages in life.

He remembered the background of each work and regaled the audience with small stories. For instance, people were thrilled to learn that he came to the city in early 60s and captured the magnificence of the Rockfort, and the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple on his canvass.

"I am an actor and every film is the outcome of teamwork. But each painting has a sole owner. And I own 48 paintings. It is the most effective way of expressing myself," he said.

Entry into filmdom

A native of Coimbatore, Sivakumar's entry into filmdom was by no means an easy one. There were incessant ramblings from one studio to the other and the inevitable knocking at the doors of various directors, before he actually got a chance to act. But the audience discovered him more and more through the narration of his experiences with others.

He described each life in detail. "I have a habit of maintaining a journal," he said, sharing that it was more of a memoir of his association with contemporaries.

S.S. Vasan, who introduced him to the industry, the legend Sivaji Ganesan, the heartthrob of yesteryears, MGR, and filmmaker, Balachander, all find a place in his journal. He narrated various instances of his association with each of them to an enraptured audience.

Among Siva Kumar's most memorable hits are `Sindubhairavi,' `Vandichakram,' `Ini oru Suthanthiram,' `Pournami alaigal' and `Solla thaan ninaikiren.' He was never a great dancer or singer, but the clippings of his movies where he adorns the role of Lord Siva performing an intense dance, speak volumes about his involvement, commitment and hard work.

Tracing the growth

During the session, Sivakumar also traced the growth of the film industry "as he saw it."

"It took me 15 years to do the role in `Attukkara Alamelu.' But my son, Surya had done just a few films before he did a role of the same depth in `Nanda'," he pointed out with much pride.

"Films in earlier days were emotionally charged, slow and theatrical, perhaps, very expressive and exaggerated. But now they are fast paced, made just to entertain the masses," he differentiated.

Sivakumar is not judgemental, but appreciates the change and even encourages the youth to persevere and work hard. Regarding his son's performances, he said, "I am glad to see an introvert like him doing so well in movies. I am thrilled to see his talent."

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