Narain happy Chithiram Pesuthadi is a hit

Mar 24, 2006 Meera Krishnankutty

Chennai, March 25 (IANS) Narain, hero of the runaway Tamil hit "Chithiram Pesuthadi", is elated that his ultimate dream to be an actor has paid off.

The success of his debut Tamil film has already bagged him another prestigious project - Thankarbachan's "Pallikoodam".

Narain, known as Sunil Kumar till recently, acted in a few prestigious Malayalam projects before turning to the Tamil industry.

"My dream was cinema and my ultimate passion, acting. But I lacked the courage even to mention it," Narain told IANS in an interview.

In "Chithiram Pesuthadi", Narain plays Thiru - a lovable village ruffian.

"Mishkin (director) gave me the right break in Tamil. And Tamil audiences have been wonderful. I am sure Thankarbachan's 'Pallikoodam' will also be a great treat," the soft-spoken actor said.

Narain had started his acting career with Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Malayalam film "Nizhalkuthu". He injected freshness and naturalness in his performances in Jayaraj's "4 The People" and Satyan Anthikad's "Achuvinte Amma".

Excerpts from the interview:

How did Adoor Gopalakrishnan choose you for his film?

My parents wanted their only son to be an engineer. But I failed to get through the entrance test after my degree in statistics. While they were upset, I thanked my stars secretly. My dream was cinema and my ultimate passion, acting. But I lacked courage even to mention it.

My father believed that good technical education was an absolute passport to job security. I then toyed with the idea of cinematography. Since that was a technical course, I got my father's approval.

I joined the Film Institute at Adyar, hoping that cinematography would open the magic doors to acting. But, even after completing the course I remained a cameraman for a couple of years.

I decided to join cinematographer Rajeev Menon. During the interview, I told him the truth about my secret passion. He could not believe it - seeking a job as a cameraman and wanting to be an actor! I feared an immediate dismissal. But he was kind. I was hired, and he advised patience.

Then came the day. Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Mankada Ravivarma happened to visit Rajeev to choose suitable cameramen for "Nizhalkuthu". I was assigned to help them out. Every time I spoke to Adoor, the dilemma of the desire within made me nervous. During a casual conversation, suddenly I could not stop myself any more and let my thoughts out and said, "I know camera, I love direction, but my first priority is acting".

As the words rolled out, Adoor looked at me. He remained silent. But, before he left he asked for one of my photographs and asked me if I could really emote. Weeks later, the invitation came. I was to be the hangman's (Oduvil Unnikrishnan's) son in "Nizhalkuthu". It was my luck that Adoor taught me my first lesson of acting.

And Jayaraj's "4 The People" happened soon after that?

Not immediately. Again, I had gone back to Rajeev. We were in the middle of the busy schedules of "Morning Raga" when Jayaraj called. He said he had seen my photograph and wished to cast me as one of the four students in the movie.

I was overjoyed but the parting was painful. Seeking blessings from Shabana Azmi and my trusted mentor Rajeev, I handed over the camera and lights, knowing well that there would be no comeback. It was an intensely emotional moment for me.

You donned a police officer's attire...

Yes, without a moustache. I met Jayaraj with a clean shave to fit into a college student's mould. But he decided that I must be the police officer. In the beginning, I was drenched in self-pity worrying about my moustache-less police image but, as Jayaraj predicted, that turned out to be a wonder!

"Achuvinte Amma" changed your image from a tough police officer to a soft-hearted hero. Were you nervous to play Meera's lover?

In the beginning, yes! Sathyan Anthikad explained the story and my character and said, "Remember, you have two versatile artistes on the other side to compete with. But we are with you, and you can give the best to my Jijo."

He joked, teased and gave instructions simultaneously, which took me on a trip to my good, old college days. I never felt like a newcomer after that.

What forced you to work in Tamil cinema?

I waited for months trying to reach out to directors and producers in the Malayalam film industry. But there was no role for me. And I was very particular about the story. Fortunately, "Chithiram Pesuthadi" happened.

Mishkin wanted a camera test before the shooting with moustache and beard since the character was a rowdy. When I reported fully attired, he could not recognise me first. Then he was so excited. "You are my Thiru!" he shouted.

Those words loaded me with confidence, which lasted till the end. I even did my own dubbing.

Has your new name brought better luck?

I am positive that it will do so. Not that I was not lucky earlier. I always wished for a rare and powerful name. I thought Sunil Kumar was a common name. I felt good when the astrologer also approved of the new name.

When "Chithiram Pesuthadi" succeeded, I was relieved beyond words. I am happy that things are shaping up well.

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Chithiram Pesuthadi


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