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Prabhu Deva: From his father's shadow to the limelight

S.R. Ashok Kumar

"I was afraid to choreograph songs on my own. My father would force me to choreograph a song on my own. I learnt a lot that way"



Prabhu Deva — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Dance master-turned-actor-turned-director Prabhu Deva came under the media scanner last week when he announced his debut directorial venture in Tamil with actor Vijay in the lead.

Prabhu Deva talks about his rise from dancer to director.

I am a happy-go-lucky guy. I can adjust to any situation. A few years ago I used to be short tempered. But, now I have become mature.

I am a workaholic and carry out my duties with full concentration.

I wanted to join the navy when I was in school. I was undecided about my career.

I once wanted to be a traffic constable. I felt that all the vehicles were moving only the way he told them to. When I saw people who did not obey the traffic rules I would promise myself that I would become a traffic constable and pull up the wrong doers.

When I was studying in class XI, I helped out my father (choreographer Sundaram) in his work. I was lucky to have a father who was a dance master. I was working as his assistant.

In those days, several producers and directors used to tell me that I should choreograph songs on my own soon.

I learnt Bharatanatyam from dance masters Dharmaraj and Udipi Lakshminaryanan. They made me what I am today. I wonder where I would be now if they had not trained me? I thank them from my bottom of my heart.

Till standard X, I studied well. Then, I saw Michael Jackson's `Thriller' on a CD. I was astonished by his movements and wondered how anybody could dance like that. I used to practice his moves. I don't know if I got them right.

Later on, dancing gave me my bread and butter. Even now I don't know if I am dancing correctly.

I was initially afraid to choreograph songs on my own. The directors were confident but I was not. Some days my father would leave me alone to choreograph a song. Those times I was forced to do it myself. I learnt a lot that way.

The first song I choreographed was for Sivaji Productions' Vetri Vizha starring Kamal Haasan and Prabhu. Later, I directed all the dance sequences in a Telugu movie.

While I was choreographing songs, directors Pavitran, Shanker and Kadir used to ask me to act in films. I danced for a few songs first — in Adhigaari, Ezhai Jaadhi, Idhayam, Sooriyan and Gentleman. My father wanted me to act in films. Raju Sundaram was the one interested in acting.

I am lucky to have acted as the hero in over two dozen films from my first movie, Kaadhalan. Till I acted in Minsaarakanavu I was nervous, but after that movie I started things in my stride. But now, directing a film is like writing an exam.

I know that directing a film is a big job. M.S. Raju wanted me to direct a film, and I did one for him in Telugu.

Now, I am directing a Tamil film Pokkiri, with Vijay in the lead. It is being produced by Ramesh Babu.

My favourite dancers are Michael Jackson, actor Padmini, Vyjayanthimala and Chiranjeevi.

Like many others I like Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Chiranjeevi and Kamal Haasan among actors.

I adore directors Shankar, Bhim Singh and K. Balachander (in random order, of course).

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