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The Star Next Door
(Source : www.rediff.com)
When the prestigious ABCL banner went scouting through the roster of southside stars looking for a lead actor for its debut venture in Tamil, industry watchers played their guessing games on which icon the banner would sign up. Kamal Hassan? Rajnikanth? Chiranjeevi? Nagarjuna? Arjun?
Would you believe, Ajith Kumar?(left)
"I happened to be in the right place at the right time," the hottest new star on the southern block says, with a shrug and a smile.
The tall, good-looking young man is remarkably blase about the fact that, in the words of the famous quote, "He awoke one morning and found himself famous". And even a series of three hits, and a spate of film offers following in the wake of the publicity his being signed by ABCL generated, hasn't impacted on his laidback, take-it-easy persona.
His attitude to his success, and new-found celebrity status, is reflected nowhere as vividly as in his own thoughts on a variety of questions. Thus:
On Aasai, the Mani Rathnam production which marked the directorial debut of award-winning cinematographer P C Sriram and went on to become a mammoth grosser at the box office: "That film worked for two reasons. Prakash Rai(right) was brilliant as the villain, and every song was an instant hit, all of them made it to the top of the charts one after another. Besides, the storyline was unusual, so the film became a huge hit. The fact that I was the hero had nothing to do with it!"
About the increasingly high profile he has attained, after following up that first hit with another and being signed by ABCL for its debut venture: "I guess this period is my honeymoon with the marquee. Honeymoons are great, but they don't last. And I think the same is true with success on the screen - today I am all over the place, tomorrow I may be gone, I may have to make room for someone else. So why make a big song and dance about it all?"
This attitude, the more one examines it, seems typical of a new breed of film artist making it big on a marquee earlier dominated by the 'superstars' of the order of Sivaji Ganesan and the late M G Ramachandran, Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth. This emerging brand of 'hero' is typically young and fresh-faced, well educated, from cosmopolitan middle and upper middle class backgrounds, and inclined to bring to their celluloid careers a professionalism and clear-headedness that strips away the hype and makes of showbiz another career - albeit a high-paying, and glamorous, one.
Ajith's bio exemplifies this breed. Born to a Sindhi mother and Malayalee father as the middle son of three, he laughingly describes himself as the dunce in the family. "My two brothers excelled in academics and are now working abroad, I was the family dunce, dropped out in Class X from Asan Memorial High School (in central Madras). I guess I was more into extra-curricular activities - NCC, trekking, loved motorbikes.
"I guess it was my dad who hauled me back to reality, he said it was time I made something of myself. So since I liked motorbikes, I first became an apprentice at Enfield India, then I tried my hand at the textile business, basing myself in Erode, for a spell."
In this phase, however, his clean-cut features had already won him some modelling assignments, for both print and television. And his spare time was spent racing motorbikes - his one enduring passion. This daredevil streak, however, resulted in a broken vertebra, which he neglected at the time and which was to erupt in pain later, while doing a risky stunt for one of his films.
Around this time he wound up his textile business, and accepted a role in a Telugu film, Prema Pusthakam. The debut was, in his own words, a "disaster". And his first film inTamil, Amaravathi,"did only marginal business, though the songs were chartbusters and got me some measure of notice."
Ajith was becoming increasingly familiar to television viewers partly because of the hit songs from his Tamil debut, partly because of television ads shot by the likes of P C Sriram.
One of those ads was for the company headed by film-star Revathi's husband Suresh Menon and his appearance in it earned him a small role in Menon's own productions, Paasamalargal and Rajaavin Paarvayile.
'It was the rushes of these two films that persuaded the Mani Rathnam-Sriram combine to sign him on for the former's home production Aasai(left). And when Ajith followed it up with Vanmathi,another mega-grosser, and a standout performance in a secondary role in Kalluri Vaasal starring Pooja Bhatt and Prashant in the lead, it was perhaps inevitable that ABCL's choice would fall on him as the most promising of the emerging breed of young actors.
Today Ajith boasts an enviable fan following, especially among the teenybop, young collegian crowd - despite not being billed as either a fighting or a dancing star. "I love doing stunts, though I have to be careful with my back. As for dances, somehow I am uncomfortable doing them. I lack grace," he grins. And when you point out that in his brief career, he has already had over six songs that have topped all the charts, the grin broadens into a laugh and he goes, "Yeah, that's the funny thing about this industry, the strangest thing can, and sometimes do, happen."
Which, I think, must be about the first time I ever heard a star view his own enormous popularity as an example of showbiz "quirks". And Ajith promptly shatters another of my illusions - that every star, asked why he is in cinema, will use the query as a cue to spout sanctimonious stuff about "artistic aspirations... a deep love for acting... the passion to create..." and suchlike - by saying, "I am in movies basically for the money and, frankly, I have a hard time believing those who say that act for the love of acting!"
Having said that, Ajith - like any other committed professional in any other field - has a desire to be, if not the best, at least to be good enough to be rated among the front-runners. "Acting is a learning process," he says serioulsy. "And what you are doing in your early films is essentially picking up the nuances, the tricks of your trade. And somewhere along the line, you become analytical, and learn to enjoy what you are doing. Essentially, though, I see myself as a director's medium - he needs something from me, I deliver it."
When talk veers to his fan following - love letters from girls, inscribed on their hankies in their own blood, are a common offering in his mailbox - Ajith sighs. "I wish people wouldn't equate screen heroes with demigods," he says, adding that such extreme adulation both frightens, and saddens, him. "I do respond, in all sincerity, to the letters I get - but there is some discomfort. And I try not to let the adulation go to my head, because for one thing it is not exactly encouraging - imagine the enormous pressure it puts on you to know how much people expect from you! And for another, it is so very ephemeral - today I am everyone's darling, tomorrow that same Everyone has moved on to a newer, fresher star....
"For my part, I think it would help to restore a sense of balance if the screen hero were to be true to life, to have flaws and plus points and stand tall on feet of clay. It's like my role in Aasai(left) - not at all the all-conquering 'hero' of the marquee. My character was romantic, but he was human, he was as insecure as only a man in love can be, an angry, mixed up youngster, idealistic to an extreme and yet helpless to realise his ideals. I loved that character."
Asked to describe himself, Ajith avoids the subject of his looks - 'clean cut' being the most obvious description I can come up with here - and prefers to concentrate on his personality. "I am a restless sort of chap, full of a frenetic, sort of directionless, energy," he smiles. "And yes, I am very religious." Proof of this latter being in the way he, soon after recovering from surgery for his broken vertebra, walked the many hundreds of miles from his home in Madras to the famed Balaji shrine in Tirupathi, in Andhra Pradesh, in fulfillment of a vow. "Losing every sensation in my legs was frightening," he says, when asked why he took so arduous a vow.
Ajith is busy shooting for Ullaasam, the ABCL debut venture to be directed by the upcoming pair of JD & Jerry, with music by Ilayaraja's son Karthik, which pairs him opposite no less than Sridevi's cousin, Maheshwari. "I was very surprised - pleasantly surprised - to get that offer," he adds with a smile. "And even more so by the money they offered me," he laughs, while refusing to divulge the exact number of zeroes on his paycheck.
"I can't talk about that movie right now, we aren't supposed to discuss it yet," smiles the young star. Ask him about his previous heroine, the Bollywood star Pooja Bhatt, and Ajith is back to his down to earth, candid self. "See, North Indian girls tend to be very fair... considerably fairer than the girls in the south. And that is one reason why our Tamil and Telugu producers are increasingly starring them in their films - Manisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar, Pooja Bhatt, now Sushmita Sen... It's all part of this star fixation," Ajith muses. "The frontbenchers here, they go to the theatre and see these north girls and they go, 'Hey, look at her, so fair and nice...'
"Having said that, I must add that Pooja was great fun to work with. A shade aloof at first, but later on we became good friends. She doesn't have any starry airs, nor does she put on hauteur about being the daughter of the famous Mahesh Bhatt. Very down to earth and friendly and fun..."
Ask him about his own favourite stars, and Ajith reverts for a moment to your typical young man as he talks of his admiration for Aamir Khan, for Madhuri Dixit and Kajol. "At some stage," he adds, "I would like to do a Hindi film - after all, I'm half north Indian, my mother is a Sindhi and the Hindi language is not alien to me, so I'd like to give it a shot."
For the time being, though, he is busy shooting almost round the clock for Ullaasam, the schedules for which received a set back when the technicians of the Tamil film industry struck work for almost a month. And in whatever time remains to him, living the life of a typical young lad next door and successful professional.
"Hey, I love to go out," he grins. "Getting mobbed is a bit of a problem, but then I try and be very normal when I am out, no dark glasses and starry ways. Love riding my bike, and I guess the fact that I act so normally has resulted in the public giving me the space I want. Getting recognised is a nice feeling, but I am very particular about my space, I think I'm a pretty private sort of guy!"
Yeah, right - a private, down to earth guy who, just by a quirk of fate, happens to have his face, blown up several dozen times, plastered across the skyline of the film-crazy state of Tamil Nadu...
He has put his signature in the hearts of young girls.....! Instead of himself going after any girl, the girls themselves go after him---such a handsome male he is!" .....These are the apt words to describe this "Kathal Mannan", namely Ajith Kumar!
The reason for the immense popularity of Ajith, who has so many male fans and many times more female fans, is his bountiful youthfulness and the razor-sharp shrewdness! He acts in films in a natural and spontaneous style! He's neither quiet nor very talkative! Rather in between the two! How one should behave and with whom--he can learn these things from Ajith.
His birthday, every year, is being celebrated all over the world--every nook and corner of the world--Yes, it's May 1st! The World Workers' Day falls on that date! He considers this (coincidence) as the special, natural reward for him! 'It's because I'm also a worker'--so says Ajith!
Ajith, who was born and brought up in Chennai is living together with his father and mother, in the same house. He has got an elder brother and an younger brother. Ajith has got abundant freedom in the house.
Ajith studied in Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School, Chennai. Afterwards he underwent training as automobile engineer in Enfield company. Then he came to work in a textile company for four and half years.
Ajith was also doing modelling work. Every now and then, he used to participate in motor bike races too. At one point of time in his life Ajith started his own textile business. As he hadn't gathered sufficient, prior experience, he happened to meet with heavy loss.
He became broken-hearted and felt fear-struck! He quit business. Producer Poorna Chandra Rao lent him a helping hand. Through him he got introduced in a Telugu film. His first film in Telugu was "Prema Pusthagam". He acted as hero in this. This film was a success. Subsequently, he started acting in Tamil films. Here, he was introduced as hero in "Amravathi", which was directed by Selva.
When his first film in Tamil was released he got involved in a motor bike accident. His spinal cord was affected. Doctors treated and made him walk. After taking full rest, he again started acting in films. One after the other his films in Tamil flopped! Atlast, the film "Aasai", directed by Vasanth proved a hit film. Ajith became very popular. Young male and female fans became his admirers.
In a particular motor bike race which was held at the All India level, he finished 5th. In this race it was considered a very rare feat if one achieves the target of coming within the first ten ranks.
"Kaathal Kottai" proved to be a record success. Then his "Nesam", afterwards "Ullaasam" created much flutter. Recently "Vaali" has become an astounding success. Now "Amarkkalam" in which he has paired with Shalini has been released. And the hot news has been aired by one and all that Ajith and Shalini may get married soon! Both Ajith and Shalini have acknowledged that they love each other. It isn't a film story. But has become their real life story. Perhaps the sets of "Amarkkalam" became their 'kaathal kalam' (lovers park) indeed! Let's wait and see how things are going to take shape in the coming days!
Ajith Kumar A profile
(Source : www.megspace.com)
Ajit Kumar today is in a better position than his contemporaries - almost at the number one slot. They call him the Lucky star. Last years Ajit-Kartik starrer Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen celebrated its Silver Jubilee run at the theatres. His next release Unnai Thedi ran for 100 days. And then came the film that was a turning point in his career. And his latest release Amarkkalam too was a big success. Today Ajit has carved an enviable slot for himself in the Tamil film industry.
Ajit came to Tamil films through Amaravathi which was directed by Selva. Filmdom did not come to him on a platter. He had to go through various trials and tribulations to reach the position he is in today. Out of the 25 films he has acted in so far, only a handful of them were successful ones. But Ajit had his own fan following, particularly among the ladies who were charmed by his good looks and pleasant disposition. Vanmati, Aasai, Kadhal Kottai, Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen, Vaali, Amarkkalam, Nee Varuvai Ena, were films that contributed to his success story. But Ajit says that the roles in his forthcoming films Kandukonden Kandukonden, and Mughavari will show him in a different and mature light. Ajit who was earlier not very wise in his choice of films and roles, is today very involved in the story discussion and selects his characters with care. He has not forgotten the bitter past when he hardly had a film to talk of.
His film career may have gone through a bad phase. He himself had to undergo operations for the injury to his spine when he fell off his motorbike and met with an accident. But the actor has always managed to swim against the tide, largely because of his persistence, determination and self-confidence. When he was recuperating from an operation, Ajit, much against the advice of his doctors, attended a shooting and performed the stunt scenes without any dupe. To make up for lost ground, to make a success of the profession he has chosen, to see that the producers incur no loss, who have put their faith and money on him, is what Ajit is aiming at. He is one of the few actors who compensate to the producer for any loss incurred, when a film starring him flops. By doing a film for them without charging any remuneration. That was the way he agreed to do Vaali for producer and friend Suresh Chakravarty. Kadhal Mannan was not a commercial success, so Ajit accepted Amarkkalam, in order that the producer could tide over the crises.
Being an openhearted person, Ajit had his own share of controversies. In fact among his contemporaries, he was the one whom the media loved to speculate on. That he never gave the respect which the press demanded, that his concentration was more on having a good time with the fairer sex. And, of course, his so called affairs with his various heroines. But Ajit has his explanations for all the accusations.
"I was never an arrogant person. I strongly deny this allegation against me. The reason that I kept some of the press at bay was that some of the press persons used to write various things about me, without even clarifying with me or to know the truth of the report. Its true that I did refuse to meet such people from the media. But those who have played fair with me, I have always been accessible to them. The media has been instrumental in building my career and always lent their support to me. It is only a few who misuse it. As for the gossip that I neglect my work for the fairer sex, I deny the allegation outright. But I do admit that I have had my fair share of involvement, I am a human being too I too have the feelings and desires that a normal human being has. If we do not enjoy life at this age, are we to do it when we are old and infirm? This is a phase that every human being goes through. To single me out is quite unfair. Its because I am in the limelight that the whole thing is magnified out of proportion. But I have put a stop to these things and my life has taken a different course. You will not see the old Ajit again. Its not only because I am going to marry Shalini. It is also because I have realised that human life is full of turns and twists. And an opportunity comes but once. It may not come again. Today I am in a position of strength. And it would not do for me to lose this position which I have got after the struggle I went through. I still have a long way to go. And I need the good will and support of all. "
Heres wishing him all the very best in his life and career.
Ajith: I wont do two-hero projects
(Source : www.cinematoday2.itgo.com)
Ajith, the ruling heart-throb of youngsters in Tamil Nadu, had started his career with the Telugu film Prema Tapassu. But it was his Tamil hit Aasai , followed by Kathal Kottai that announced his arrival. The latter was also a success in Telugu as Premalekha . But a lull followed thereafter with major flops like ABCLs Ullasam and Raasi . He sprang back soon enough with a bang in Vaalee which catapulted him into the big league and a string of hits followed.
Incidentally, his first release after marriage to actress Shalini - Unnay Kodu Ennay Tharuvean directed by Kavi Kalidas - has been a major flop. May be, his female fans couldnt digest the fact about the lover boys marriage!
Excerpts from a brief interview with indiainfo.com:
How could you accept an insipid film like Unnay Kodu Ennay Tharuvean ?
I cannot take the entire credit for a films success and similarly I do not want to blame anyone for my flops. When the director narrated the storyline to me he was confident that his story would click. However, I kept quiet because I did not want the industry to blame me for discouraging a new director. Anyway all I can say is sorry to the viewers.
Then how come you promised the director a flat even before its release?
All this is baseless news. I told him that every director who gave me a hit has been given a Santro car and so he too can expect one, but never a flat.
Your fans are unhappy with Kandukondain Kandukondain because you have a small role in it?
The fans must understand that I signed the film about two years ago when I had no standing in the market. My being in such a project was a great thing. Besides, Kamal Hassan patted me at the audio release function of Kandukondain Kandukondain and said he was envious of me (laughs). I felt very happy.
Any new films in the offing?
My next film is Citizen directed by Subbaiah and produced by Chakravarthy of NIC arts. It is a very different film where I have six different get-ups. The make-up man was referred to me by Kamal Hassan when I met him on the sets of Hey Ram ! to give my wedding invitation. Then I have a film each with Ezhil, Surya and Pravinkanth besides one with Poornachandra Rao, who produced my first Telugu film. Its directed by Vasanth.
You abused Vasanth in public during the shoting of Neruk Ner , but now you are working with him.
After Neruk Ner , I took Surya (Vasanth's assistant) as director for Vaalee and after it became a hit I openly declared that I have no aversion to working with Vasanth. That's why I have agreed; anyway, it was his film Asai which gave me the hero status.?
Will you do a film again with Kavi Kalidas?
I told him to take a break for a year and come back with a good subject. Success and failure are never permanent. With a banner like Supergood Films, stars like Simran and me and Rajkumars music, he failed. Now it will be very difficult for him to get a break again.
Will you do two-hero subjects?
No way. Who can come up with a subject that can satisfy two heroes? There will be lot of ego problems.
Interview with Ajith
(Source : www.tamilstar.com)
Ajith the teenage hero who hit the bulls-eye with 'Kathal Kottai' and was tipped to be the next top draw, found himself sliding down from the top. A series of bad films and to top it all he had a bad back restricting him from doing dances and fights. His girlfriend Heera had walked out on him. His business venture of distributing films landed him in debts. He chose to stick it out on the wrong side of the trade union war and the big guys and majority disowned him. All the big banners claimed he was not saleable and was drifting away. A guy who was a truant in his work is today having the best of films. Rajiv Menon's 'Kandu Konda ayan', 'Nee Varuvaya', 'Mukhavare' are those in the pipeline while films released are 'Valee' followed by 'Anandapoongakatre' by Rajkapoor. Ajith speaks about his new lease of life and his future.
Q: With the success of 'Unaithedi' you seem to be back in reckoning with offers once again coming your way?
A: More than the success of 'Unaithedi' I think it's the message that I am dedicated to my work that has endeared me to the producers. When I had a bad back I was still shooting for the film and went in a wheelchair to the dubbing theatre. I was determined to show that I am serious about my work and today that is what has got me the offers. I think a success of a film industry. With the release of 'Valee' I am going to be recognised as an actor. I am speaking to you before the release of the film and I am confident of its success because I can sense a good film. I told the director Surya that at the 100th day of the film I will gift him a car and today after being doubly positive of the film I have got him a Santro. After the release of 'Valee' no one will come to me with meaningless scripts.
Q: You cannot pass on the blame to the directors because you too heard them and accepted it?
A: Yes, quite right but then when everybody comes to you with bad scripts then what choice do you have? Now I have the best in terms of scripts. No one will come to me with scripts that are not well crafted because they will realise that I am capable of something more than what they think of. I am back here with a vengeance and shamelessly I want to announce that I want to be at the top.
Q: How come your physical, mental and economic problems have not affected your career?
A: I never let these problems affect my performance. When I was in front of the camera I never thought about it but when away from the public eye and in the company of friends I cried. I never wept in front of my so-called well wishers because I did not want them to see my sorrow. I then realised that only work, work and more work will make me get to the top slot. Work is worship and today it has paid off. Today work has become an obsession to me. I have settled my debts and come out of it. Career is looking up. The traumatic period has taught me a lesson where I know who my friends are.
Q: Now that you are back with a vengeance then probably you might like to teach your enemies a few lessons.
A: I am not bitter to anyone. I see it as a part of growing up. What hurt me most was when people who I thought were friends ditched me. I can understand film folk saying nasty things about me because its rivalry. I don't blame anybody for what happened and I am not for any emotional outburst. I only want to show to those who ditched me that the loss is theirs and not mine. Some tried to mend fences but then its too late.
Q: In most films you do it is a dual hero subject. Is it wise to do so when the industry rates a hero by his capacity to pull in crowds single-handedly?
A: R B Chowdary's 'Nee Varuvaya' is the last subject that I am doing as a double hero and for the next two years I will not be doing any twin hero subject The reason being I want to concentrate on my individual performance. All the same, films that I accepted as twin hero like 'Anandapoogatre' is because of Karthik who is a good friend and its director Rajkapoor, Rajiv Menon's film has two national award winners Mamooty and Tabu along with Aishwarya Rai and I want to be associated with such a team.
Q: You always took pride in giving new directors a break but they only let you down. So you may shift to established directors I presume after C Sundar's 'Unnaithedi'?
A: In 1997 all new directors who worked with me gave me flops but in 1999 I can tell you that 'Valee' will shock the industry and the system. A new director Surya is going to shock the filmdom and he deserved a car no doubt. This is my year and the new guys who will work with me are going to give it with a bang. No one can snatch it from me now.
Q: What about matters of the heart?
A: I have to meet someone who is compatible with me and the search continues but then career is first now.
Q: Probably no more industry girls?
A: Not that way. If the girl is not from the industry then she could be suspicious of you. Just because of Heera I should not classify each and everyone like her. Even today I respect Heera as an individual and we decided to go on with our lives. Today I have friends like Chakravarthy who is producing 'Valee' and he is a friend who stood by my side throughout the problems and even when the industry banned me. I am proud to be his friend. With the right friends and scripts, 1999 is mine.
Name : Ajith Kumar
Date of Birth : 1st May 1971
Parents (Father): Subramaniam
House Address: 3rd Floor Ahaja Appartment,
T. Nagar Chennai 600 017
Visitors Address: AK INTERNATIONAL
No 5, Vijayalakshmi Street,
Chennai 600 034
Contact Number: 8264767
First Movie : Amaravathy (Tamil), Prema Pusthakam(Telugu)