When a number of us (including the YG family) went to watch the re run of the Sivaji starrer – Gowravam at Shanthi Theater , my mind went back to how the movie came to be made. Some 40 plus years ago , Mr YGP , the founder of UAA , a Stage Play group came to my father , late Sri V.P.Raman , with a request to check out a Play written by “Vietnam Veedu” Sundaram . YGP’s reasoning was that the Play was based on the travails of a Barrister’s family because of two Trials - The first where Barrister Rajinikanth the Senior Advocate gets a man acquitted from Murder charges and the second where the same man is again accused of another Murder.
My father was initially reluctant to do this task but his close friendship with YGP could not get him to refuse. So , Vietnam Veedu Sundaram , the writer , came home and read out the Play – scene by scene. I vividly remember these sessions , when my father used to correct the legal angles , The Court Dialogues , the Judges normal comments etc . The difference between the Trial in the Sessions court and the High Court appeal was correctly portrayed probably for the first time on Tamil Stage. There were many scenes in which my father , who was himself a great lover of Cinema , allowed “poetic” licence to the playwright. In the end YGP was satisfied that the Play had been “legally vetted”. Then they inaugurated “Kannan Vandhaan” – this was the original title and every time the Play was staged , my father’s name was mentioned in the Titles as the Legal consultant. In fact when UAA Celebrated its Golden Jubilee Y.G.Mahendraa gave a memento to my late father that I had the honour of receiving.
When Sivaji wanted to make this Play into a film , one of the first questions he asked was – “is it accurate – legally ?” – He was told that my father had corrected the script and that satisfied him.
Many years later , after my father had passed away , Sivaji asked me whether I knew the inspiration for the character of Barrister Rajanikanth , that he had essayed on Screen . He then elaborated that the Pipe smoking style was inspired by the Industrialist T.S.Krishna of TVS , The hair style was inspired by the other Industrialist T.S.Narayanaswami of India Cements and some of the other aspects were from my Father.
I was stunned to see so much of my dad on screen. The “rationalist” – anti ritual thoughts from a man belonging to “orthodoxy” , the love for a glass of “ale” , the swanky dressing , the mannerism of clasping the hands behind the back and walking , the sheer confidence in one’s own ability and talent and so on. In fact to quote Sivaji he said - "maththa ella thimurum unga appan da". The ability of Sivaji to pick traits from various people and blend them into a stylish package amazes me. He was always so keen an observer , noted various points from various people seen in various times and all of that was stored in that Computer Brain of his, to be suitably modified and blended for later use. What an Actor !!
Almost as if the Circle had to be completed – Sivaji reprised the role in his only ever Television Serial – “Meendum Gowravam” – I played the Public Prosecutor and opposed him in Court , that still remains the highpoint in my career.