Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How about some action

Bangalorean Shaam is so keen to breakout as a Tamil action hero that he stepped in when the producers abandoned his latest project

So convinced is Shaam about being an action hero that when producers backed out of Agam Puram, he took it upon himself to complete the film and turned producer. With three films that crowned him a romantic hero 12B, Lesa Lesa and Iyarkai, Shaam is ready to give up that title.
Agam Puram, which will release in Telugu as Gang War, is directed by Thirumalai and has Shaam and Meenakshi in the lead roles. “You will see a different Shaam in Agam Puram,” Thirumalai says. Apart from a change in genre, Shaam sees the film as a career advancing move since it’s being released by Sun Pictures. “Their strategies are good and they back their films very well,” he says.
Shaam is no newbie to not understand how well marketing a film works. He’s spent nine years in the Tamil movie industry, and shot to fame with 12B, directed by Jeeva. Later he got to work with Priyadarshan and Jananaadan but that did nothing much for his career. Things began to roll after he starred in director Surendra Reddy’s Kick.
Shaam then went on to act in the Telugu remake of the Tamil film Thillalangadi, with Tamannah as the heroine. “Doing a regular role never thrilled me and I have always wanted to experiment,” he says. Shaam believes without a good script any film will flop. “I am always looking for challenging roles and it’s now that I am getting good opportunities. I have made mistakes in choosing films in the past, and I don’t want to repeat them.”
The past has also taught him that a big production house does not ensure success. “If the role is challenging, I am even ready to do a negative character, regardless of the banner,” he says.
Making an entry
It was during his modelling days in Bangalore that films beckoned Shaam. He was introduced to the assistant director to director Kathir through a friend. “I submitted a portfolio of my pictures to him but never got a call. Then I secured the role of Vijay’s friend in Kushi. While working in Kushi, I got a call from director Jeeva who was looking for a new face for his film 12B. I was offered the film immediately
after he saw me. I learnt a lot from working on the sets with Jeeva. I got that chance again when I acted in his film Ullam Ketkume. Whenever I think about him I feel like he is still alive; nobody can take his place in my heart,” says Shaam.
Campus capers
“I graduated from St Joseph’s College of Commerce; I used to be a brat. I would spend most of my time in a gym in Frazer Town. I am still in touch with all my friends and whenever we meet up it’s always a lot of fun.”
Better half: Shaam married Khashish, his college sweetheart. Two kids complete
the picture.
Mush talk: “When director Surendra Reddy narrated the story of Kick, he commented that something was amiss in my look. Instantly, he suggested I try growing a moustache. I had never had one before and do agree it gives me a different look which has clicked.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pain relief technique

Blind people are bringing reflexology to Bangalore, thanks to an initiative of the National Association for the Blind.
Popular in Malaysia, reflexology is a healing art in which the feet and hands are pressed and massaged. Association secretary Karun said, “When I visited Malasiya, I experienced reflexology for myself and thought why not bring it to Bangalore and give employment to visually challenged people.”
Telephone booths and the garment industry traditionally provided jobs for the blind. But with the advent of mobile phones, and the recession, jobs have shrunk, leaving the visually impaired at a disadvantage. “Reflexology could well provide the much-needed alternative,” Karun said. The first batch of reflexologists is trained and ready, and two students have already got employment.
Mahesh (20) and Kempakka (19), both visually challenged, joined a free two-month course at the association. They now work at a private centre in Indira Nagar. This is their first job, and each takes home Rs 3,500 a month.
Mahesh is proud he is an earning member of his family now. “I am waiting for my first salary. People used to say I was useless, and I used to feel sad, but now I can prove my worth to them". He lost his sight when he was four. He demonstrated his skills, cheerfully singing a movie song, ‘Noorondu Nenapu’ (Memories spring from the depths of my heart/and turn into song…) Kemppakka used to work at a garment factory in the packing department, and had nowhere to go when recession robbed her of her job. “I heard about the course from friends… I am not worried about my livelihood now".
Hailing from Tumkur, a two-hour drive from Bangalore, she now lives on Hosur Road, where she and her friends share an apartment for Rs 1,500. Mahesh and Thimmakka work from 10 am to 7 pm. The association is looking at a franchise model, and is ready to send trained reflexologists to entrepreneurs who wish to set up centres. Reflexology involves applying pressure on the hands and feet to relieve pain. It believes specific points, when pressed, improve blood flow in related organs.

what’s reflexology
A healing art based on the principle that reflexes in the feet, hands and ears correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body.
Reflexologists press these points with their hands without the use of tools, creams or lotions.
Reflexology is said to relieve tension, improve circulation, and promote the natural functions of the body.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Actor Vijay might just become one

Tamil movie hero secretly meets Rahul Gandhi, may head Tamil Nadu Youth Congress
Tamil actor Vijay quietly went to Delhi and met Rahul Gandhi two days ago.
The Congress needs a fresh young face, and Rahul has been talking of bringing youthful energy to the party.
Observers are putting two and two together, and assuming Vijay will be the young face Rahul is looking for.
The Congress isn't doing too well in the south, and its influence in Tamil Nadu has waned.
The Congress tried to rope in actor Vijayakanth, who has strengthened his votes considerably in the last two elections. The party backed off when it realised such a step would displease ally DMK.
Vijay may be a better bet for the Congress, since he is on good terms with the DMK.
Vijay's father S A Chandrashekaran, once active in the DMK, is pushing his son in the direction of the politics. In the last six months, fan clubs have been pressing the actor in the same direction.

Sound speculation
Last month, Vijay told fans it was time for them to serve the people.
Chandrashekaran has been mentoring his son to take an active role in public life.
Speculation was rife that Vijay would join the ruling DMK. Last week, Pondicherry chief minister Vaithiyalingam shared the stage with Vijay and S A Chandrashekaran.
Vijay announced several promises to the 50,000 plus people who had gathered at the rally. He also announced he would join politics.
This surprised the Congress and Pondicherry leaders took the idea to their party high command in Delhi.
That prompted Rahul's summons, a source said.
The meeting was spread over two hours. "We expect the high command to announce the post of president of the youth wing for Vijay," a party worker told MiD DAY over the phone.
Rahul and Vijay had already been in touch via email.

New Khan on the block

Visually-impaired debutant Naseer Khan's movie promises to be thrilling, but his life has more to offer

Naseer Khan was born blind, but refused to let his disability hold him back.

This 36-year-old real life hero has turned reel life hero as well Shadow, the movie he acts in and produces, hits the screens today.

Naseer runs a successful real-estate business based in Kanpur, and even a brief listing of his exploits are enough to put any normal person to shame. He can swim, ride a bike and a car, play musical instruments, repair electronic goods, and has even completed four levels of Microsoft certification in computer hardware.

Naseer's biggest ambition though lay elsewhere; he wanted to be a part of the list of famous Khans in Bollywood, an ambition he has steadily pursued. And today, he will realise his dream with the release of Shadow The Dark Side of Truth.

Khan plays a double role in the thriller directed by Rohit Nayyar, and which he has co-produced with Shamshad Aalam. He has written the movie's story himself, too. As the owner of a music label and film distribution business, Naseer has been long associated with movie business. To write and act in a movie would be achievement enough for most people, but for multi-talented Naseer it's one more addition to a long list of achievements.

Naseer tells us his tale:

Were you born blind?
I was born blind. When I was three, I got operated six times but only 10-15 per cent of the vision in my right eye was restored while I was toally blind in my left eye. In 1990, I had a retina detachment and the operation turned out ot be unsuccessful. I am now fully blind.

How do you feel today after completing the movie and while waiting for the audience's reaction?
This is a very exciting moment. I am very confident about my project but I won't lie, there is some nervousness. The director and music director are confident but being the producer and actor, the whole burden is on my shoulders. Until the audience gives its verdict, I can't predict anything.

What attracted you to the film industry?
In 1992, when I was working in my father's office, my uncle scolded me and told me not to use the typewriter. I was depressed. I had only two options: to go back to sleep or fight with everybody and prove that I too can do it. I decided to learn typing and went to a typing institute The same uncle later appreciated me, but unfortunately he is no more. He is the person who helped me realise that I can do anything if I want. I finished all four levels of Microsoft certification, studied electronic mechanics and I also run a tanning unit. I wanted to prove some more to the world so now I have completed my first movie as a producer, actor, and writer.

What was the toughest thing you faced while shooting?
I had to shoot a song sequence with lions in Thailand at midnight. The director convinced me and explained how I have to do the scene. He would give me a cue and I had to follow his voice and go amidst the lions. I was worried, after all it's an animal and if it gets provoked, that's it. But it went well. Nothing is easy until you try it.
There was also an action scene where I had to go around seven feet under water, and then a jet would propel me out of the water and I had to shoot a guy exactly the moment I came out. It was a real pain because from nine in the morning we were shooting in the sea till we got the perfect shot!

Any plans to screen this movie exclusively for visually disabled people?
Just today I learned that we could add some sort of commentary to the movie so that visually disabled people can also enjoy it. Whatever it costs, it doesn't bother me as a producer, I will spend it.

Is it true that you're planning to send your movie for film festivals abroad?
I have already got into the Limca Book of Records, and I am not going to miss any film festival abroad, including the Oscars!

What's your message for other visually disabled people?
If you are committed and if you work hard, you can do anything.

Kalam's driver, now a lecturer

V Kathiresan (47), a high-school dropout, who used to drive former president Abdul Kalam's car, holds a string of degrees, including a PhD

This is no fairy tale. V Kathiresan (47) rose from driver to lecturer, all thanks to inspiration from an unusual boss: Abdul Kalam.

The boss, and later India's much-loved president, encouraged Kathiresan to study while he worked. The 10th class-drop-out today holds a string of degrees, the latest being a PhD.

MiD DAY visited his hometown of Vadachennimalai, a six-hour drive from Bangalore, to meet the achiever, a day after he had joined the faculty of Arignar Anna Government Arts College.

"I wrote to Kalam-ayya and he was very happy to know about my job. His words of appreciation made me happier than all the degrees I was awarded," he told MiD DAY in Tamil.

Army days

Kathiresan was in high school when his father Vellaisamy died. He couldn't complete his std 10 exams, but went on to join the army.

He acquired electrician skills and was posted at Bhopal in 1979. Two years later, he was sent to Sikkim, and then to Hyderabad.

It was at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory that he met Kalam, who was then its director. He worked for four years with him, and served as his driver.

He had no clue his boss would go on to become the president of India.

Drive time idea

Kalam was always courteous and used to ask Kathiresan about his background. "On one drive, he suggested I resume my studies," said Kathiresan.

Kalam used to give inspirational lectures to all 800 DRDO employees, and often spoke about the importance of education.

"He motivated us to take up distance education courses, and helped us along with whatever we were studying," said Kathiresan.

As driver, Kathiresan was at the office between 10 am and 6 pm, and then used the evening hours to study.

Step by step

Motivated by Kalam's advice, he passed his std 10 English exam. That was the hurdle that had made him abandon his studies as a young boy. He then completed his std 12 exams privately.

Kathiresan took up a BA course from Madurai Kamaraj University's distance education department. His next step was MA in political science, also from the same university.

The urge to study had gripped him, and he did a B Ed and an M Ed from Madras University. He then embarked on an M Phil from Kamaraj University.

Then came a degree in law from an evening college. The high point of his education was his PhD from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. He did the last course as a full-time scholar.

In 2001, he passed a teachers' recruitment exam, and was selected purely on merit.

Teacher's job

He worked at Kovilpatti as a high school teacher for eight years.

"The urge to learn never died. I have written four history books and a guide to Tirunelveli district," he said. "I have prepared notes for 10 more books."

Kathiresan's wife, a teacher, supported him through his difficult days. He has a son studying in std 11.

Since August 6, Kathiresan has been teaching students in the hot town of Vada Chennimalai. He is now looking for a house to stay.

"I want to share my experiences with my students and motivate them. Our principal and our head of the department have been very supportive," he said.

Monday, October 8, 2007

“I take life as it comes”

Visual effects supervisor turned art director Jackson shares his experience with his film Paruthiveeran, his future plans and more…

S Suresh Kumar

Despite the recognition he’s received as art director for the super hit film Paruthiveeran, Jackson comes across as a rather simple man.
“The success of a film doesn’t depend on how much money you’ve spent on the sets or how opulent you make them look. It depends on how realistic the shots look,” he told us.
A producer is always walking on fire, trying to keep up with deadlines and financial commitments. So all Jackson does is keep it simple and make sure the sets are in coordination of the story. There are no dream sets in Paruthiveeran — but each and every shot has a rich look despite its minimalist appearance.
“You can’t separate art direction from the story. There’s a fight scene in the film and the director wanted to shoot it in muddy areas and there were a lot of aerial shots. So we decided to use tractors as props but the rains came and our plans went down the drains. But Aamir is an extremely particular director. He cancelled the shoot and we waited for the rains to stop. We had to do the whole thing all over again,” said Jackson.
Road to Art
Born in Bangalore and educated in Chennai, Jackson is a qualified artist from the School of Arts, Chennai. He’s worked at Pentamedia as a visual effects supervisor for more than eight years where he mastered 3D animation and models. He’s also worked at SG, 3D Studio Max and Maya. “I don’t really plan big. I take life as it comes and just give it my all,” he says.
In Indian cinema, scripts lack hard work. Pre-production is taken very lightly and that’s why there is much confusion on the sets, affecting the cost, length of film and even the release date,” says Jackson.
Budgeting art
This art director not only sketches and plans the sets, he also works with the carpenters where he can visualise shots not only on paper but creates it with the help of 3D tools before the schedule of the film.
This way, he helps the producer calculate the approximate time and money required for the sets, easily.
Working with Aamir
“It’s been a great opportunity, working with Aamir. He’s brilliant and the entire production was like a picnic. The success of a film depends largely on teamwork and he never wasted time on the sets. By the time the first shot was completed, we were ready with the third shot,” says Jackson.
This savvy art director has two more projects in the pipeline — Sakkarakatti and Onbathu Roopai Nottu and we just hope that his films keep adding feathers of success to his cap!