CHENNAI: With the mind of a monkey, Ashok Selvan of Thegidi fame first decided to give up his love for sports and enrolled himself for a VisCom degree at Loyola College, Chennai in 2007, but soon switched loyalties to acting. “Two months into the course and I had already started hating studies. My set of friends, Raghu, Vivek and Vinodh, and I were the typical last benchers, who loved to roam about the Loyola campus aimlessly,” says the 24-year-old. Interestingly, all the dreamers are now actors.
Loyola came as quite a shock for this Santhome High School graduate. “Hanging out with the kuppam (fishermen community) boys and then to get a blast of the liberal atmosphere at Loyola — right from the way people dressed, good looking girls and such — it was quite a culture shock. But I soon managed to ‘fit’ in.” Bitten by the acting bug right after he stepped into Loyola, he began trying seriously for a break from his second year onwards and got his ‘mini’ entry as the younger version of actor Ajith in Billa 2 released in 2012. “It was probably the ‘smallest’ debut anyone has had,” he guffaws referring to his screen time. But lady luck was smiling at the six-plus footer, whose supporting role in Vijay Sethupathy’s Soodhu Kavvum (2013) made people notice him. This was soon followed by a leading role in Pizza II — Villa. Made with a budget of `7 crore, Villa raked in `25 crore at the box office. However, Thegidi, which released in February, was the turning point for the actor, whose performance in the movie won him rave reviews.
Loyola was also special for the light-eyed boy as this was where he discovered his first love. “It was beautiful, and predictably didn’t work out,” he laughs. The romance phase of his college life was followed by three-four crushes after a failed love (I didn’t know she had a boyfriend, he says hurriedly), “But nothing really worked out. However, I am thankful for my friend Sithara as far my friends of the opposite sex are concerned,” he says, adding, “We are friends to this day.”
Being regular to college in the first two-three months, Ashok started bunking soon after to hang out with friends. “I was hardly in college and had a lot of arrears, but finally managed to clear them all.” The soft-spoken Vetri of Thegidi had a different image from that on the screen in college — one who loved panchayats (read getting into fights). “I remember this one incident where a 6’4” boxer marched into the classroom and started beating one of our classmates. Trying to stop him from beating up the poor guy to pulp, I intervened and immediately paid the price. I got a few blows too. The only thing I remember afterwards was pouncing at him madly.” With torn clothes, he also remembers his professor watching the tamasha from a safe distance. “We thought we were in for it. But to our surprise our professor joked about the department stocking up on samaan (weapons) for such untoward incidents,” he says.
Drama was something Ashok loved and was known for it. “When we won the intercollegiate fest, Ovations, it was complete mayhem. We carried the Department Secretary on our shoulders, picked up a dustbin out of nowhere and went on a parade. There was dance, laughter and madness everywhere.” Being so notorious, can his life be short of embarrassing moments? Not for our guy. “In my second year, my friends and I visited a cinema workshop. I tried to flirt with one of the volunteers and to my surprise and embarrassment, she turned out to be a junior and also had my phone number! I was left red-faced.”
Another incident he would love to forget is his experience with external examiners who visited the campus during internals. “There’s no hard and fast rule that they need to be so stiff and unhelpful. It would be nice if such people mentored students and do not live up to the stereotype of terrorising the students taking the exams.”
Ashok also had a handful of good moments at Loyola. Despite not being much into sports, he was made his department’s Sports Secretary and also took part in street theatre. He says he misses his college campus even now. “Every three-four days, I get nostalgic about the campus, the cafeteria, the car park…places where we had so much fun.”