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In the name of the Lord

K. PRADEEP

Kaushik Babu, who plays the lead in `Swami Ayyappan,' was selected after a year-long search, say the makers of the serial S. Karthikeyan and S. Murugan.



STAR CAST: `Swami Ayyappan' has an impressive line-up of actors that includes Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Rajan P. Dev, Sukanya and Devan.

When S. Karthikeyan and S. Murugan, sons of the celebrated filmmaker `Merryland' Subramaniam, decided to make `Swami Ayyappan' for television, they faced a serious problem. They needed a young boy who could fit into the title role.

"It could not be just any boy. We had decided right from the beginning that it had to be a boy who bore a close resemblance to an old painting of the Lord," says Karthikeyan.

Picture perfect

The search took almost a year. The producers went through hundreds of photographs but were not satisfied. "That was when we chanced upon the photograph of a boy in a magazine. Immediately we knew that he would be our Ayyappan. His features, especially those big, dreamy eyes, came very close to that painting.

"The boy, Kaushik Babu, who hails from Hyderabad, was contacted. And, by the grace of God, everything fell into place. Vikraman Nair did the make-up of Kaushik to reproduce the look of that old painting."

A Class Ten student of Dwaraka High School, Hyderabad, Kaushik is not new to acting. "It was my father's friend, the late Sunil Verma, who introduced me to films. My first film was `Kalankita,' which he directed. In fact, I did six films for him. I have also acted in various television serials such as `Bhakt Ramdas,' says Kaushik. Kaushik quickly got over teething problems to come up with a professional performance. "He is smart, involved and a quick learner. Initially, he had problems with the language. But he managed with his movements and sensitive emoting. Now he can understand and even speak a bit. This is reflected in his acting. The entire project revolves on him and he has done a fine job," feels Karthikeyan.

Kaushik is also into English elocution and mono act. "I have won prizes for elocution at the National level, but I enjoy presenting different characters in full make-up. I have presented Swami Vivekananda, Duryodhana and many others. This helps me understand different people and gives me an edge when I act. One character I always dreamed of doing was Lord Ayyappa. But I never thought I would get this opportunity," says Kaushik.

"We have made no compromises on the production values. The cast includes Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Rajan P. Dev, Sukanya, Devan and many other talented actors.

"My father had made a film way back in 1975 with the same title. That one was a super hit and so were the songs. We have used some of the songs composed by G. Devarajan in this, along with those tuned by M.K. Arjunan, M.G. Radhakrishnan and Somasekharan, who has composed the title song. The lyrics are by O.N.V. Kurup and Sreekumaran Thampi, with Madhu Balakrishnan lending his voice to some fine, new songs," says Karthikeyan.

The serial has been directed by Suresh Unnithan. "I have not seen Sabarimala yet, but they have promised to take me there soon. It was great fun at some of the locations like scenic Kulathupuzha where we shot the Gurukulam scenes, and the magnificent Kuthiramaalika Palace in Thiruvananthapuram. But I'm waiting to have a `darshan' of the Lord of Sabarimala," says Kaushik.

`Swami Ayyappan' is being telecast on Asianet from Monday to Friday. It is also being aired by Vijay TV and Maa TV.

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