There’s no denying the fact that Kalidas Jayaram is one lucky kid. For starters, the former award-winning child artiste is blessed with the good looks of his parents, and, he can speak flawless Tamil. Great attributes for a winning career in the Tamil film industry.
It was only as we arrived at the venue of the Oru Pakka Kathai press meet, that we learnt that there was also another thing that sets him apart from the rest. For Kalidas was about to be launched by Kamal Haasan himself. Something that the young actor acknowledged as ‘the stuff his dreams were made of’. And his father’s too, of course. There was no mistaking that proud glint in Jayaram’s eyes. Still retaining his youthful charm, Jayaram brimmed with joy and was close to tearing up on several occasions.
He narrated a story for us, recounting his experience of watching Maro Charitra for the first time, at a small village. “It was a mind-blowing film. One that changed something in me forever. And to think that the man who starred in it is here with me and also helping me formally launch my son…it is just too good to be true. I’m barely resisting the urge to pinch myself,” he joked, all the while keeping an eye on the tall young man, who was posing for the cameras.
There was a sudden lull in the proceedings. A group of photographers ran towards the entrance, just as a sleek white sedan slid inside. Kamal Haasan stepped out and strode purposefully towards the crowd, welcomed first by his former aide and actor Chitra Laxmanan. Also part of the welcome team was Jayaram and Kalidas, who greeted the ulaganayagan with obvious warmth and affection. After a ten-minute photo-call, during which we managed to take some awesome shots, the trio went into the venue.
Naturally, much was made about Kamal Haasan’s presence in the event. Everyone onstage tried to come up with the most imaginative titles for the actor, but the one we liked the most was Chitra Laxmanan’s “Tamizh cinemavin aayutha ezhuthu…Kamal Haasan”. The veteran actor, clad in a dapper pink and white shirt, also played host. And, expounded on the ways that the film’s title could be interpreted. There’s the straightforward meaning: Oru Pakka Kathai: A story so short it takes up only one page. And the more subtle one: Oru Pakka Kathai : A perfect story. He offered several other examples, but these were the ones that stayed with us. “The true meaning of the title can be determined only after watching the film,” he exclaimed. Balaji Tharaneetharan, the director of the movie, had a slightly alarmed expression on his face throughout it all, and rushed to explain, “There’s no deep meaning behind the title. Let’s not concentrate on that. It was a catchy name and I decided to go for it.”
When it was time for Kamal Haasan to go onstage, he grabbed hold of Kalidas and escorted him up, as a bunch of photographers hastily made way. It was a beautiful moment to witness: the legend escorting the debutant – one that brought tears to Jayaram’s eyes.
Also, when Kamal spoke in Tamil – beautiful Tamil – it was our turn to mist up a little. “Naan inge vandhadhirkaaga natpu, uravu rendume karanam. Indha kudumbathil nerungiya uravu…Jayaram! I do not have a big task ahead of me today. All I’m here to do is to point at Kalidas and introduce him to all of you. It is up to him and his director to work hard and make all of us proud.”
He had some sage advice for Kalidas too. “I don’t believe in DNA or acting genes. Hard work is the key to everything. You can have acting in your genes, and never amount to anything much. But with hard work and discipline, you can do a lot. Kalidas should practice this and also, read. Read a lot of books on cinema and gain knowledge about all aspects of it.” And then with a cheeky little smile, Kamal said, “But if you want to know about film politics, you should come to me. Jayaram knows nothing about it. Enakkum theriyadhu but pattu therinjukitten!”
Oru Pakka Kathai will begin shoot soon. Directed by Balaji Tharaneetharan, the film is a family drama and will have music by Govind Menon, of the popular Malayali band Thaikkudam Bridge.
Read more about the film, here.