Newbie Gets into the Shoes of a Genius
By S Subhakeerthana | ENS | Published: 03rd January 2014 10:20 AM |
With legendary actors Gemini Ganesan and Savitri for grandparents, Abhinay Vaddi, the newest kid on the block, boasts a fine lineage. Says the good-looking actor: “I was drawn into cinema, but nobody forced me into acting.” Right now, he’s excited about playing math prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan in the upcoming biopic Ramanujan.
A former international table tennis player, Abhinay made his Tollywood debut in 2009 with Young India and says it is an honour to be a part of this movie. Ask Abhinay why the director chose him, and he says Gnana Rajasekaran felt his eyes resemble that of the mathematician. “He had morphed my eyes and nose in Ramanujan’s photograph and showed me, but I wasn’t able to recognise that,” he says. Abhinay says he was approached after Suriya, Madhavan and Prashanth.
Talking about his role, Abhinay explains how he had to wear a special wig with a half-tonsured head to get the traditional Iyengar look. “Acting runs in my genes. I am destined to be an actor,” he says. “I bear pressure since I come from a star family. There’s always an expectation; I know how to manage it. But I am focused on establishing my own identity,” he tells.
Abhinay says he familiarised himself with Ramanujan by reading The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel. He attributes the credit to the director, who had gathered information on his life before finalising the script. “I wanted to do something different, so I grabbed it when I got the offer. I am eyeing performance-oriented roles,” he says. “I am quite comfortable in front of the camera but being a Telugu, I had to memorise my dialogues and the biggest challenge was to deliver that in a particular accent as to how Iyengar Tamil was spoken in those times and peppered with jargons. Aranthai Manian, speech therapist-writer helped me out,” he says.
Is the film based on a particular book? He pauses and says no. On a personal note, Abhinay feels people are celebrated more only
after death. “Had this person been a foreigner, he would have been treated differently,” he says. So, what makes a biopic successful? “You got to bridge the gap between reality and fiction; these scripts make a lot of difference in society,” he says.
Ramanujan is quite versatile and inspiring, tells Abhinay, reminiscing how math was his favourite subject in school. “These concepts never fail to thrill me,” he adds. The actor adds the team had put in a lot of effort to discover teeny-tiny details of the mathematician’s life. “It took a year and a half to collect the details, especially on costumes. Also we had professors from UK coming in from math schools to help us out with the original dialogues and paper materials,” he says, adding they had three shooting schedules—two were done in India and the third in England.
Abhinay says he’s happy with the way everyone treated him on the sets with affection. “There were many senior people like Suhasini Maniratnam and Nizhalgal Ravi. I never felt like a stranger. They made me feel I was at home,” he says.
Asked about being selective in projects, Abhinay says he is doing it consciously. Proof of his strong sense of uniqueness comes from his lineage. With laughter, he says he has inherited cooking skills from his grandfather and how to be a better person in life. “I am amazed at the roles my grandfather played when he was young. He had a huge fan following like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. I doubt if I could reach that level,” he says.
“I’d be lying if I say my grandparents aren’t my inspiration,” says Abhinay, adding he’d be happy if people see Gemini Ganesan in him. Next, if all goes well, he’d be signing a thriller film. “I think I can make a space for myself in this industry. I am where I am supposed to be,” he says.
Shot in Tamil and English, the movie will be dubbed in Hindi too. Ramanujan is expected to hit the screens before March.