The elements on call in a pot of gold to stardom could be summed up to truckloads of talent, barrels of luck and a break at just the opportune moment.
And it seems that luck shines bright for the five debutant heroes of 'Naanga', a college-retro film reviving 1980s nostalgia.
Produced under the home banner Cinema Kotagai, the film revolves around a group of alumni from the 1985 batch of a Tiruchi College, who meet again in 2011. Here is a glimpse into the stories of the five protagonists who have given Kollywood their best first shot.
Before 'Naanga', Nivaas says, “I was working at Reliance Petrochemicals, Jamnagar, but my heart and soul were in Kollywood. How can I forget the Tamil films in which my father too made a mark?” But he is quick to add that his father, yesteryear actor Adithan, tried to dissuade him because of harsh realities and corrupt dealings in tinseltown. “Despite these warnings, I resolved to make it big in Tamil cinema.”
Returning from Gujarat, he struggled for eight years before meeting choreographer Kala master for the audition of 'Naanga'. In the film, Nivaas plays a college student who stages protests and indulges in stray violence on the campus. However, he becomes a District Collector later on. A meaty role in his son’s debut means a lot to Adithan. He says his son’s hardwork did not let him down and “with god’s blessings he is sure to go places.”
Just like Nivaas, Sanjay Krishna too grew up with a passion for cinema. The son of veteran director Santhanabharathy and grandson of producer MR Santhanam, the young hero says, “I’m a third generation actor in my family. I’m lucky to have worked with director Selvaa.”
Having groomed himself for an acting career from Class 8, Sanjay is game to direct a movie at a later stage in his career. Presently he is a marketing head for a publication, but ready to go full-time into film projects when the need arises. “It was wonderful shooting for the film and we (cast and crew of 'Naanga') got along well.”
Munish concurs and adds, “Selvaa took good care of the new cast and we all moved like one big family at the shooting spot.” Having done a number of TV commercials, this VisCom student from Loyola (son of music director Vasu Rao) spends lot of time pursuing photography. “Though 'Naanga' was godsend, I’m still scouting for better opportunities to make acting a full-time career,” he claims.
Another VisCom student from Loyola to join this team of debutants is Uthayi. With his father Rajagopal, a Malayalam film distributor — Uthayi took up an acting course at Koothu-P-Pattarai after graduation. “My role models are Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth and Mohan Lal. Just looking at their volume of work is awe-inspiring and I’m ready to hone my acting skills to reach the expectations of the market.” Besides 'Naanga', he has completed another film titled 'Surya Nagaram' with a debut director.
Perhaps a little different from rest of the crew is Vinod, son of Gurusamy, a production executive. A dancer in choreographer Ashok Raja’s troupe, Vinod is adept at creating his own style and mannerisms. “I have the knack of developing my own way of acting and was looking for a serious foray into Tamil films before 'Naanga' happened,” he reveals. A skilled artiste in western and folk dance, he is eagerly awaiting the release of the film before planning his next move.
Of course, no film can be complete without the bad guy. Newcomer Shakir (son of playback singer Mano) who plays the villain clarifies, “Nobody got their roles just because they are related to film personalities. Despite our parents being in the industry, we got selected through a very rigorous process of audition tests.”