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In the right direction

P.Vasu, the super hit director who believes in changing with the times, writes G.PRASAD

PHOTO: R. ASHOK

SHREWD A task master

P. Vasu strongly believes in two T's - Time and Talent. Success follows suit when the two combine well. And that's how he defines his career spanning more than two-and-a-half decades in the film industry.

Vasu and his companion, Santhana Bharathy, started off as assistant directors and got together to direct `Paneer Pushpangal', which became a super hit.

"We compromised on certain things as we had different approaches to the subject. That's the reason why some of our other movies failed to make a big impression in the box office, prompting us to take our own paths," he says.

His first individually directed film, `En Thangachi Padichava', was another big hit and there has been no looking back ever since.

On track

Vasu is also known for putting careers of top actors on track and Chandramukhi is a perfect example.

"Raised expectations put more pressure on you. But I love challenges. Rajini always wanted `Chandramukhi' to be a super hit. From day one I knew the film would be a success because of its storyline and most importantly, the Rajini factor. But I did not quite expect the film to reach the 500-day mark," he says.

Also, when Ajith was on a look out for a hit, Vasu came to his rescue with `Paramasivam'.

The remakes of his stories in other languages have incidentally helped in reviving careers of several actors.

His film `En Thangachi... ' which was remade in Hindi (`Aaj ka Arjun') and Telugu (`Mudalamamiya') gave Amitabh Bachchan and Balakrishna the much-needed break.

As the son of a make-up artist Peethambaram, Vasu had an easy entry into filmdom.

But it was his abilities and creativity that helped him to make an impression. Vasu still cherishes the finer nuances he learnt on direction from Sridhar, under whom he started off as an assistant director.

On his guru

"No doubt, he is a great director. His films, `Kadhalika Neramillai', `Kalayana Parisu' are still known for their humour and certainly I got to know the importance of comedy in a film from him," he acknowledges. But is quick to add that he never followed Sridhar's style of filmmaking and has always tried to be original.

Just like comedy, Vasu also gives importance to music.

"I never hesitate to give my opinion during compositions. Ilayaraja once said that he would improve upon a tune, which he had composed earlier. But I stood my ground to maintain the same tune, in spite of Raja's repeated requests. At the end I was right, as the song `Chinna rasave chiterumbu' was a super-hit. Making the songs of a film reach the audience is an important task," he shares.

Vasu is now busy with his assignment in Tollywood with Balakrishna doing the title role.

"Tamil directors must consider themselves lucky as most of the top actors in other South-Indian languages know Tamil be it Balakrishna, Mamooty or Vishnuvardhan. I never feel alienated working with them. Now that I have learnt Telugu, life is easier in Tollywood," he says.

Having worked with almost all the top stars, Vasu is set to direct a Kamal Hasan starrer for the first time. Kamal is expected to do a film with Vasu after `Dasavatharam'.

"We should have done a movie earlier. I don't know for some reason or the other it was delayed. I am happy that this time around things have gone on well. I am looking forward to working with an actor of Kamal's calibre," he says.

On his son, Shakthi turning into an actor, Vasu says the youngster always aspired to enter the tinsel town and that Shakthi is ready to give his best and make use of the opportunity.

So what's up his sleeves after churning out fifty films, most of them box-office hits that include blockbusters -`Chinna Thambi', and `Chandramukhi'?

"It is important for a director to keep adapting to the emerging trends and tastes of the audience. Every film is a new beginning and a fresh challenge," he wraps up.

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