He's dignified, unassuming and soft-spoken, much like the character he portrayed on screen as Arya’s father in Bala’s 'Naan Kadavul'. And its these very characteristics that bagged him the role in a Bala film. For a man who has spent his career juggling figures, star dates and film schedules as an eminent producer, acting was something he didn’t think of even in his wildest dreams. Then how did it all happen? Producer Azhagan Tamizhmani spills the beans…
“I started my career as a political journalist and later I turned producer,” says the man who made films like 'Malaiyur Mambatiyaan', 'Anbulla Rajnikanth' and many more. After a ten year stint in film production he became the pioneering mega serial producer when he turned to Sun TV and asked for an afternoon slot for his serial Mangai. Everyone scoffed at his idea but Tamizhmani believed in what he was doing. “At that time evening slots were the rage. Afternoon slots were for old songs only. I changed that trend. For eight years my mega serials were on all the major channels five days a week,” he recalls. Ten years and several mega serials later, the man has found a new calling as an actor. “I never dreamt that I would act,” he grins. But thanks to a man named Bala, his new profession has found him.
Tamizhmani recalls how it happened. “I had met Bala at a producer council election meeting. The next day his production executive Sundararaja and assistant Suresh Kannan called on me. They said Bala wants me to act in his next film. I explained to them it was impossible since I couldn’t act,” recollects Tamizhmani. But they persisted and finally one day when Bala called him up, he went across for a meeting to explain clearly why he couldn’t be in the film. But fate had other things in store. “Bala told me that he had screened 400 people for the role but I was the perfect choice since I was just natural and not an actor per se. My disadvantage of not knowing anything acting, turned into an advantage for me!” laughs Tamizhmani.
Tamizhmani traveled to Kasi for the shooting four months later. By then he had to grow a beard and long hair. “His men would come and inspect the growth every week,” laughs Tamizhmani. The film went on for nearly three years and whenever he was called to shoot or re-shoot, Tamizhmani had to repeat the same costume. “The two veshtis and sattais I wore in the film were never washed for three years due to continuity,” he recalls. “Maybe its because of the stink that I looked sad the minute I got into those clothes!” he adds laughing.
Despite being the only son, he didn’t even shave his head as per custom, when his mother died. “I know the travails of producer. I didn’t want them to lose time and money waiting for my hair to grow,” he says. Unfortunately his mother died before fulfilling her wish of seeing him act.
He praises Bala’s discipline, perfection and dedication. “I will always be indebted to Bala,” says the man who has now acting as Sunaina’s dad in director Balakumaran’s Yadu Mahi, which will be released in May. Dad or villain, Tamizhmani is now fully geared up to start a new innings in Kollywood !