Pa Vijay's 'Gnabagangal': A meeting with the actor poet
As soon as he finishes writing his songs, Pa Vijay dons the make-up. As soon as he removes his make-up, he's back to writing songs. Not only do people ask him, "Sir, is the song ready?" he will also soon be asked, "Sir, is your call sheet ready?"
With 'Gnabagangal,' Pa Vijay turns story writer, actor and producer. We met him for an interview.
Why this sudden avatar as actor?
Please don't use big words like avatar. This is a recently born thirst. I know that deep inside every Tamilian lies hidden this streak of culture awareness as per our tradition. So they can travel into any art discipline. I have been breathing the air of art all the time, so acting is for me no particular challenge. That's why the acting bug got me mid way in my journey through cinema world. I think it's justified.
For those who ask whether acting is necessary for a poet, what's your answer?
I have written a dialogue in 'Gnabagangal.' "For anything and everything, these people have criticism. For one who comes to struggle for victory, they will say, 'Boy, this is not enough. You need a new fire.' If the person fights with the new fire, they will belittle him by commenting that not everyone who fights, wins. Similarly, for those who ask me whether it's necessary for me to act, my film 'Gnabagangal' will give the answer.
What happened to 'Thai Kaviyam'?
'Thai Kaviyam' is a very strong huge elephant and Pa Vijay does not have the strength to pull that huge animal! But Kalaignar is a force to reckon with for a half century in this cinema field. Surely, 'Thai Kaviyam' would soon enough hit the screens imbued with Kalaignar's magic touch. There will be definitely an important share in this for Pa Vijay!
Is it necessary for cinema actors to have shades of politics?
Art field and political field are like railway tracks. They may not intertwine but can travel along together as has been seen in Tamilnadu's history. Because of certain compulsions or because some refuge is needed, some artistes do take to politics. Without shades of politics, one can achieve great things in films like Kamal Hassan. When I hear some say I've caught a big place in politics, it only makes me laugh. I'm not touched by politics. I'm an ardent fan of Kalaignar. I am a fan of his Tamil and a prisoner of his poetry. Other than this, there is no connection between me and DMK.
Kalaignar participates in all your function, so why did he not in the 'Gnabagangal' function?
The launch of 'Gnabagangal' and its audio release function plus details of the movie was given by me first to Kalaignar. To have conducted these functions without him has pained me. Like the weaves go on crashing for ever being watched by the distant sun,. I felt he was watching me go about these film functions and work. I have all along thought about him as I completed my work on 'Gnabagangal.'
Your experiences as actor and producer?
Viewing from the outside it looked like there is no pain in acting and producing films. As for acting, it has a security ring. Within that ring the actor's talent and fame are shining bright. But producing a film takes place in a limbo with no safety net. Carrying both on my back, I had to face a lot of troubles. My faith in God alone gave a helping hand and guided me on the right course of action. Today the film 'Gnabagangal' is ready to be released on the silver screen.
Will your acting affect your writing lyrics?
Pa. Vijay, the actor is lurking within Pa. Vijay the lyricist. The actor may never devour the lyricist. So, this actor will be led by the lyricist alone. While conducting a penance for words, filling of tunes with words that filled the air with music in Tamilnadu, my writing instrument took a rebirth that gave way to writing a story, screenplay and dialogues too. As my face fit the role, it was not a task to put on make-up and perform before the camera. It can't be denied that it is a great satisfaction to perform a role that was created by me.
Have you achieved your goal as a lyricist and a poet?
As a lyricist my goal was a national award which I had achieved four years ago. The lyricist will only aim for yet more national awards. Or find the song with his lyrics one among the top ten. I have turned out many songs like that. Yet the poet's quest has not come to an end. I have to raise myself several notches to achieve that global recognition. My acting is only a bridge to achieve that goal. As a poet, my quest for a seminal creation is on. In this knowledge driven world, only cinema has the power to make it happen. That is what drove me to take up acting.
About the path you have chosen?
I chose a road to walk on. I gave up my studies in Coimbatore and came to Chennai only with a total faith in my decision. As I was carving a niche for myself as a poet and a lyricist, yet another dimension opened up and beckoned me to take up acting. Then I knocked on that door. The door that beckoned me once did not open when I became ready. What gave me courage even to knock down the door was my determination to achieve my goal. Breaking a locked door, I have paved a new road to my future.
What sort of films do you plan to make?
Same sort of films like this, but with different story lines, historical films, films on society, comedy types and so on. I would love to act in such different film genres. What my films will never have are elements like glamour, masala or cheap double meaning dialogues for making the film commercial. I am planning vigorously to make some soft or racy pics.
About 'Gnabagangal' director Jeevan…
Jeevan is the 'jeevan' of 'Gnabagangal'! When I started work on production, I felt like I was burdened with 100 tons on my shoulders. But the minute shooting started, Jeevan took that load on himself. I was happy like a bird about to take wing!
She's a great strength to the film. There is no heroism in this film. There's importance for the heroine in this story. Sridevika has done a great job of her character that's central to the story. Just by looking at the photo, we chose the heroine. Our choice did not let us down in any way. She stunned the whole crew with her acting prowess. From the beginning till end, she maintained the same excellent level of acting.
An unforgettable memory of 'Gnabagangal'?
The effort to start producing a film with just self confidence as investment, and with God's grace achieving what I had in mind…these will surely be unforgettable about 'Gnabagangal.' a film that will embed itself in the memories of others. I am confident that the film will achieve its purpose.