Air India

 

Director Pandiraj

When Life is a Challenge, Perkup; don’t Pack-up

-Ncm & Ramani.VB

“Do you want to receive a National Award from the President  of India ?”.   Well, you can follow the path shown by Director Pandiraj -  A humble man from Virachi village (in Pudukottai) who has become an award winning celebrity figure in India and abroad !! 

Pandiraj shot to fame as a Cine director with his debut movie “Pasanga” which brought him three National Film Awards (including Best Director and Best Feature Film”), Vijay Award’s “Best find of the year”,  Golden Elephant Award for Best Director at International Childrens Film Festival,  Second Best Feature Film Award at Chennai International Film Festival,  Best Feature film Award from Pondicherry Government.

The secret of success, as told and as shown by multi-award winner Pandiraj, is “Pursue your goal steadfastly”.  Well, If you still have reservation about the effectiveness of his advice, just read the story of his life so far.

Pandiraj has been an outspoken and daring person right from childhood.  This resulted in heavy work for his father who everyday had to tackle numerous complaints about Pandiraj !!! .  But this extrovert personality of Pandiraj soon became the cornerstone of his success.

In school, sons of teachers used to receive favourite treatments and dominate and rule over other students.  A versatile and quick-tongued Pandiraj was pitted against these blue-eyed boys by those who were fed up with their behavior.  The oratorical, literary and dramatics talents of Pandiraj won everytime in all gatherings or school functions.  His stage experience thus started at the age of 10 !!

His talented performance in debates, singing competitions and drama endeared him to his co-students . Even senior class girl students used to admire him and shake hands with him.  “That was the best motivation for me to live up to my ‘Hero’ image” jokes Pandiraj.

Pandiraj liked botany and wanted to join B.Sc.  But his parents did not agree to his idea and packed him off to Trichy to work 

with his brother in a cycle shop.    He held on there for two months before being sent to Thanjavur, this time to work in an electrical shop !!  Here  he could hold on for six months;  His brother’s marriage resulted in one more migration.  This time, to Salem and to work in a medical Shop !!  He was thankful as Salem provided him more opportunities  to watch movies at least !!

But during these various job stints, his mind was always hankering for Chennai and a career in film industry.   A friend in Salem, who left for Chennai to try his hand in films, returned back frustrated and painted a bleak picture that awaits people who are lured to Chennai by the glitters of the silver screen.   But Pandiraj was full of self-confidence and was not to be put off by the failure of others.

A bout of Jaundice that almost proved fatal, gave him a much needed short-term break from the medical shop in Salem and paved the way for his move to Chennai to achieve his long-term dream.

He tried to enter the Kollywood through his friend Mr.Vellaichami, a  small financier.  But his efforts were met with disappointing  responses.  When any other person might have given up his life ambition in the face of such insurmountable  hurdles, a stubborn Pandiraj showed true guts and will power needed for a long struggle by joining  AVM studio as a security guard !!!

 At least, he was close enough to watch the stars enter and leave the studio.  However, his attempts to gain friendship of stars to facilitate his entry into the industry did not succeed.

At this time, a driver of director Bhagyaraj, got him a job in "Bhagya”, a  magazine published by Mr.Bhagyaraj.   Pandiraj could see the long queue of people hoping to become an assistant to Bhagyaraj.   Understanding the situation,  Pandiraj shelved his ambition of becoming an assistant to Bhagyaraj and started concentrating on the content and  editorial work of the “Bhagya” magazine. 

Pandiraj’s extraordinary talents in writing articles, stories etc were noticed by Mr.Bhayagaraj and he was soon included into the editorial team of the magazine.  The new position gave sufficient scope and opportunity for Pandiraj to get into contact with cine VIPs on an assured basis.

Pandiraj got introduced to Director Cheran and wanted to work with him as an assistant.  But he was met with an unequivocal negative response from Cheran.  However, Pandiraj made it a habit to meet him every day, seeking an opportunity to work with him.  A  chance leave vacancy of a regular person enabled Pandiraj to step into the team for story discussion.   Unfortunately, during that period, Cheran was yet to hit his golden streak of success and Pandiraj was dropped from the team  many times.

The movie “Pandavar bhoomi”  finally saw Pandiraj becoming as an assistant to Director Cheran.  While Pandiraj ‘s name was not noticeable in the titles of the film, he was however seen on the screen as an agricultural worker doing the winnowing, driving a cattle plough etc in a few scenes. He was teased by others  “If this is all you could achieve after so much effort, you could have done the same work in real life at your village itself” !!   But little they knew about the golden future in store for this never-say-die man.

He worked hard and made steady progress in his career and his reputation in the cine-circle grew.  Director Thankar Batchan gave him a much needed boost by taking him on as assistant in his films “Solla Marantha Kathai”, “Thenral”, “Chidambarathil oru Appasamy” ; Director Cheran gave him a chance in his film “Autograph”  and Simbudevan in “Imsai Arasan”.

During those long days of career struggle, Mr.Pandiraj has been toying with a story-line totally different from the normal run-of-the-mill movies.  Possibly, his experience as a school boy gave him the core around which he evolved a strikingly fresh theme. His story for the movie “Pasanga” was ready and he was searching for the right person to take it up.  But film producers who listened to the story were skeptical about the chances of success of a film featuring young boys as the main characters. 

Pandiraj took the story to Mr.Sasikumar, who was making the film “Subramaniyapuram”.   Initially, Sasikumar was in no mood even to listen to the story but a determined Pandiraj succeeded in his efforts in making Sasikumar hear the theme.  While Sasikumar perceived the true potential of the story, he indicated that he will wait till his next successful film before attempting the totally different and possibly ‘risky’ storyline of “Pasanga”.

Pandiraj started praying that Subramaniyapuram” itself should become a box-office hit, so that he need not wait further.  The film indeed became a huge commercial success and Mr.Sasikumar embarked on the making of “Pasanga” with Mr.Pandiraj as the director.

Most debutant directors play it safe by casting reputed crowd-pullers in main roles. But Pandiraj was different.  The film “Pasanga” starred numerous debutant child artists in the lead roles and not-so-well-known actors in main supporting roles. 

 This showed the confidence he had in his ability to extract the best from even debutant actors and the reliance placed on the fascinating story to attract people’s interest.  Speaking proudly about the movie “Pasanga”, Mr.Pandiraj says, “The movie was not made just like that;  It was born out of my own experience; the embryo was developed into full story step by step in my mind”

Mr.Pandiraj has redefined the nature of Award Films.  He has shown that an entertaining, popular and commercially successful film too could be an Award winner.  In fact his objective is to produce lot of entertaining movies that could be enjoyed by all people in the society.  “Vamsam” and “Marina” are the movies that followed “Pasanga”.

Pandiraj did not have any relative or God-father in film-industry to give him an initial boost.  Given the difficulties and daunting circumstances faced by him during the period of building his career, Pandiraj had enough reasons and excuses to give up his chase for success in film industry and settle for something else as advised by a few people.  But, in the pursuit of his dream,  this director-aspirant, was ready to work even as a security guard of a studio !!!  

 

The resounding success of the movie and the acclaims and accolades received by him from numerous quarters prove that if you pursue your goals steadfastly, you will attain success.  The golden pot at the end of the rainbow is very much there. But it takes determined walking to reach it.

Pandiraj was recently in Kuwait at the invitation from Kuwait Tamil Sangam in connection with their Pongal Festival, 2012.  As a true professional on the lookout for new ideas and concepts for use in his future films, he even visited a camel farm and interacted with a number of workers from India.    

Everyone found the well-distinguished celebrity director to be a simple man of the man-next-door type.  The humble origins and the tough road travelled by him in his career has made Pandiraj  a person respected and loved by all.  The hero of the college girls in his student days has emerged as a worthy role model for the current younger generation too i.e for all “Pasangas” in India and abroad .

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