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`Your photograph said it all'

When I saw your photograph I knew you were the right person for the role — Saran

Despite being busy giving the finishing touches to his film "Attagasam", director Saran found time for a Take Two, especially when he learnt that he was to meet Kiran, an actress whom he had launched in tinseldom. Remember, Kiran made her debut in Saran's film "Gemini"? After that break there has been no looking back for the star, who has become popular in the South Indian film circuit. Passing through Chennai on her way to Hyderabad to shoot for a Telugu film, she was delighted to meet her mentor, Saran. The eighth floor rooftop restaurant of The Park, with its breathtaking view of the city, provided a perfect backdrop. As the two chatted about the past, the present and the future, S. R. Ashok Kumar listened in.

Saran: You always greeted me with a box of melt-in-the-mouth sweets. Where are the sweets this time? (With a mischievous smile... )

Kiran: (Looking rather hassled... ) I was a bit rushed for time. But, on my next visit, I won't forget the sweets. That's for sure! Tell me, what inspired you to take up film direction?

Saran: I always wanted to direct films. But I did not how I could make my dream a reality, as I belonged to a middle class family. In a way, I could say that my tryst with the arts began in the apartment above the one in which we lived. It was occupied by an artist, Sundaramoorthy. His sketches fascinated me and I soon developed a keen interest in drawing. I enrolled at the College of Arts, but to my disappointment found that cartooning was not part of the syllabus. I wanted to do something different and so began trying a hand at drawing caricatures. I got in touch with art director Mohana who introduced me to director K. Balachander.

Cartoons with messages

Kiran: Did he give you that break by including you in his team?

Saran: (With a grin... ) No, on the contrary, he refused to make me part of his team. He told me that he was doing "Unnal Mudiyum Thambi" with Kamal Hassan and needed an experienced hand. No room for novices here!

Kiran: Oh! That must have been a disappointment.

Saran: No, my enthusiasm was not dampened. I sent him a cartoon every fortnight for nearly a year! Each time the sketch would be in the form of a request — to make me his assistant. After sending him nearly 30 cartoons, I wrote him a letter, a final one, saying that I would not hassle him any more. Hardly did it reach him when I got a call from him asking me to join his team as an assistant. I worked with him in films such as "Kalki" and his first television serial as well.

I still remember the day I joined the team and stepped into Balachander's office. I was stunned to see all my 30 cartoons displayed there! The next day when I entered the room, I was in for a greater shock. Not a single cartoon was to be seen. Later, I came to know that Balachander had been impressed with the very first cartoon I had sent him. But he wanted to see how far I would go with my cartoons-cum-requests! It was my last letter that did the trick. He agreed to include me in his team. (The memory brings a smile to his face) Tell me, Kiran, what got you interested in films?

How Kiran went places

Kiran: My native place is Jaipur. After my studies, I did a modelling stint in Mumbai. Though I got a few offers to act in Telugu films, the lucky break came when you gave me that role in AVM's "Gemini". The rest is history. What do you think of my calibre as an actress?

Saran: If you had not matched up to my expectations, I would not have selected you. I was looking out for a Gujarati girl who would suit the role in "Gemini". Your photograph said it all. When I saw it, I realised that here was someone who fitted the bill.

Kiran: But, you haven't offered me any role after that! (Smiles wryly)

Saran: I wanted you to act in "Vasool Raja MBBS". But as you had already featured alongside Kamal Haasan in "Anbe Sivam", I did not want to repeat the same pair. I did think of you when I was casting for "Attagasam", but then decided it would not do justice to feature you in just a song sequence. Kiran, what has made you so religious and god-fearing at such a young age?

Kiran: I come from an orthodox family. My parents are pious and taught me to be like them. I make it a point to visit temples often, even when I travel to different places.

Saran: Yes, I am aware that when you used to ask for time off from a shooting schedule, it would be only to visit a temple. Have you seen all the temples in city?

Kiran: Yes, I have visited almost all, and some on the outskirts too, like Mangadu. (In a light-hearted vein... ) Now, what about that role in your next film?

Saran: (Laughs... ) Well, "Attagasam" is yet to hit the screen...

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