Meet this talkative comedian who hails from Madurai and is settled in Chennai. He is Vivek, the one and only comedian in the tinsel world who has had the privilege of receiving Padma Shri.
The actor, who has acted in around 500 films, was in Bangalore on Saturday to attend a muhurat function of Kannada film ‘Maarichaa’. Here is a brief interview with gregarious comedian.
Will you throw some light on your tryst with Tamil films?
After completing MCom, I was working with the Tamil Nadu Government. Basically I’m a playwright. I happened to give one of my scripts to director K Balachander. I was nervous when Balachander sir had asked me to meet him. I had to garner extra courage to meet him at his office. He asked me what I wanted to become. I told him that I was yet to decide. He advised me to keep sending my scripts to him.
Can you tell us about your first Tamil film?
I followed Balachander sir’s advice and continued to send my scripts to him. My joy knew no bounds when he showed all my writings in a book format. Balachander sir had asked me to act in ‘Manadhil Urudhi Vendum’. This was more than twenty five years ago.
Generally, many government employees do not prefer resigning and delve into films. How did your parents react to your decision to continue in films?
I was not an officer of the Tamil Nadu Government but an employee. Neither my higher authorities advised me not to resign nor were my parents unhappy over my decision. They were like passive parents who peep through a window to occasionally see if their child is playing in the ground or on the street. I am yet to collect my general provident fund (GPF) amount.
You are making your debut in Kannada films after 25 years in Tamil films. What took you so long to act in a Kannada film?
Nothing has prevented me to act in Kannada films. To be frank, I got offers to act in two or three Kannada films but I could not make it due to various reasons.
A few years ago, Vavidelu had played the lead role in a film. Do you have such plans?
I want to remain as comedian because comedy is an important ingredient of a film. No audience goes to toilet when a comedian appears on the screen. The audience goes to toilet or for smoking if they do not like a stunt sequence or song sequence.
Now, what made you accept ‘Maarichaa’?
Mithun Tejasvi is my best friend. When he told me about ‘Maarichaa’ I could not resist the offer.
What type of role are you playing in ‘Maarichaa’?
There are only three characters and I play one of those characters.
Is Vivek flexible and affordable for Kannada film producers?
I do not know whether I am flexible or not but I am definitely friendly with producers.
The question is about remuneration?
I am ready to accept whatever K G Krishna, the producer of ‘Maarichaa’, is ready to give to me. I will not be a burden for producers but always help them.
Are you, as an actor of 500 films, enjoying your status as an artiste?
There are occasions where I had to repent becoming an actor. I am a voracious reader but have not been able to visit any book exhibitions. I face many problems whenever I visit a book exhibition. When I am busy with the selection of books, one person brings a book to me. I used to think that the person was offering that book to me but his intention was to get my autograph on the book. There are occasions where I had to ask the organisers of the book exhibition to send books to the cellar for selection.
How is your family enjoying your star status?
They are also suffering because of my star status. We could not enjoy the scenic beauty of Ooty. We have to enjoy it through tinted glass of car windows.
What is your ambition?
I want to complete green mission set by former president APJ Abdul Kalam who had advised me to encourage the planting of saplings. He advised me to promote the planting of saplings through films. As per his advice, I have joined hands with various non-governmental organisations. The planting of saplings programme began six months ago. The target was to plant 10 lakhs saplings but we have planted 11 lakh saplings. Kalam Sir will plant twelfth lakh sapling at a tsunami hit village near Kadalur by end of January 2012.
What about directing a film?
Two or three scripts are with me. However, I wanted to make a film on planting of saplings. It will not be a documentary but with all necessary ingredients. I will handle the megaphone besides playing a key role in that film.