Date:24/12/2010 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/fr/2010/12/24/stories/2010122451330400.htm
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Versatility, his forte

REMA SUNDAR

Multifaceted R. Parthepan talks about his many roles in cinema.



Actor-director:R. Parthepan.

In a career spanning over two decades, R. Parthepan has brought to life varying characters, which have won not just box office recognition but critical acclaim as well. His debut film ‘Puthiya Padhai' (1989) won the National Award for the Best Film, besides raking in the moolah. Just like his myriad reel life characters, he juggles roles in real life as actor/director/producer/ writer/ad man with consummate ease. In Thiruvananthapuram, for the shooting of his second Malayalam film, ‘Melvilasam,' directed by debutant Madhav Ramdas, the actor took some time off to talk to Friday Review about his on-screen and off-screen lives.

Actor, director, producer, writer, ad man…How best would you describe yourself?

As someone attempting to be a good human being… Every human being is a mix of God and animal; he/she becomes a human only when the extent of animal is less. The roles you mention are only like costumes… I am in the process of unravelling myself and trying to bring out the humanity in me.

Which of the above is the greater passion?

Cinema is my passion. My birth by itself is not significant…I am known for my roles in films. In my bio-data, my year of birth reads 1989, the year of release of my first film.

Memorable films

‘Puthiya Padhai,' ‘Azhagi,' ‘Bharathi Kannamma,' ‘Anthapuram,' ‘Housefull,' and ‘Aayirathil Oruvan.' Sometimes I feel that I am also an orphan like the character of my first film for I am yet to be cast by a big-time director. Looking back, I see my debut film ‘Puthiya Padhai' as a miracle. From being a zero, prior to that, the film fetched me the status of a 65 per cent hero. Though it is another matter I have slipped from that 50 per cent and 40 per cent in recent times, it is perhaps one of those few films that won a National Award along with a taste of commercial success.

How important are awards and recognitions to you?

Awards and recognitions are very valuable to me. I am someone who even attempts to quantify the sound of applause and save it in my kitty! I had to wait several long years from my first Award in 1989 to 2000 (for ‘Houseful'). Although I hoped to get the National Award for the Best Supporting Actor for ‘Aayirathil Oruvan,' I did not get it. I am yearning for the next award.

On GOSSSIP…Tell No Body (the advertising agency run by the actor)

I deliberately named it GOSSSIP with a triple S because gossip is something that spreads fast. I am waiting to do good ads though.

Combination with Vadivelu

Heroes handling comedy have often found appreciation, whether it be Rajnikanth or Amitabh Bachchan. I have a rare combination and chemistry with Vadivelu, who is an excellent actor. This is because we have struck a contrast as a duo. While Vadivelu plays it high; I play it subdued. Again I have tried to include traditional and native idioms as concepts for comedy.

Malayalam cinema

(Smiling mischievously) My exposure to Malayalam films has been through films such as ‘Avalude Ravukal' and ‘Rathinirvedam' during my teenage years. However when I took to acting/directing, I started watching Malayalam films to increase my knowledge – films like ‘Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare.' I started liking the simple way of story-telling. I am happier to don the role of a hero who does not dance around trees.

On ‘Melvilasam'

This is my second project in Malayalam. This film presents the genre of films that I like to produce. In fact I am planning to bring out a dubbed version in Tamil as ‘Ulvilasam.' This film revolves around the aspect of humanity that I talked about earlier. While there are no female leads in the film, a mother and daughter find a central part in the narrative. I have learnt Malayalam and have spoken my lines in this project. The calibre of any director can be understood from the story that he chooses to convey, ‘Melvilasam' being an example. Ramdas has struggled hard with the script trying to convince producers, before we met. I immediately said yes to the project. [Parthepan has done some of his memorable films with debutante directors, like Cheran (‘Bharathi Kannamma') and Thankar Bachan (‘Azhagi')].

On the anvil

I am working on a Tamil film called ‘Vithagan.' Talks are on to start directing a Malayalam project soon.

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