The making of a star

The making of a star

The group photgraph was taken with my college drama team in 1971 at the National College auditorium in Basavanagudi. It was taken just after we won the inter-class drama competition for our play ‘Huchchu Nayi Kachithu’. It was indeed a very proud moment for us and for me in particular because I was helming the team.

My class teacher, Dr GR Kantharaj can be seen in the photo. He was my mentor and guide and I was his favourite student. I was good not only in drama but also in singing, dancing and sports. Dr Kantharaj was a good playwright and wrote some of the plays keeping me in mind. I would always be the lead in all his plays. Some of the notable ones where ‘Jutti Nalli Jackpot’ and ‘Huchchu Nayi Kachithu’. He is about 75 years old now, and I am still in touch with him.

 Puttaswamy Gowda retired from the KSRTC. He and I always played the father-son roles in most plays. I have not met him after that but I remember the good times we had. Dr Nagaprasad was extremely jovial and in a lot of ways a comical character. He would mimic each one of us and I still cherish the moments spent with him. Unfortunately, he passed on a few years ago.

Vijayasimha was a brilliant student and today he is one among the top chartered accountants of South-East Asia. During our exams, Vijayasimha would sit in front of me and I would copy from him. He would also oblige by keeping his answer script in such a way that I could see it very well.

MS Krishna, another collegemate was jokingly called a ‘mad man’ because we would tell him something and he would always interpret it in another way. He was a fitness freak. He once came home and when I looked out through the window, I just saw two legs hanging from the sunshade. I yelled out asking who it was and he replied saying “It’s me”. Krishna was
doing pull-ups from the sunshade. I can never forget this incident.

     The second picture was taken in 1970 at the Nehru Gandhi Hall in National College. You can see me receiving the Talents’ Day Champion Award from the then judge of Karnataka High Court, Justice TK Tukol. In fact, our house was just beside Justice Tukol’s house. Ours was a small place for which we paid a rent of Rs 25.

   His children and I were playmates and although Justice Tukol was a big man, his humility set him apart. Standing to the left of TK Tukol, in the picture, is H Narasimhaiah,  who was the principal of National College. He went on to become the Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University. He was very encouraging. It was he who told me that the country not only needs scientists, engineers, doctors but also singers, actors, dancers, painters. This  inspired me to be what I am
today.

Whenever, I look at these two photographs, I slip into a nostalgic mood because it reminds me of my struggles to become an actor. We were five children and we just about had enough food to eat and didn’t have good clothes to wear with most of them being torn and worn out.

While, some of my brothers had to be sent out to study, I was not and remained in Bengaluru. I remember as a child, I wanted to be a cricketer, actor, singer… but I lacked resources to fulfil my dreams.

I had a very memorable childhood. I grew up playing ‘goli’ on the streets and cricket with broken wooden pieces lying by the roadside. I played with tyres and made whatever scrap I found on the street near my house into a toy. These were precious toys because I couldn’t dream of buying anything.

There are three people who have been instrumental in shaping my destiny — H Narasimhaiah, Dr GR Kantharaj and BV Karanth. It was BV Karanth who introduced me in the lead role of Kapila in the play ‘Hayavadana’ which was performed at Ravindra Kalakshetra in 1972. This was my first ever public performance and I haven’t looked back since.

Today, If I am an actor and somebody who people respect and look up to, it is because of my determination to fulfill all my childhood dreams. I believe people should pursue their dreams and never give up on them.

MK Sunder Raj, Actor (Sunder Raj can be reached on mksraj94@gmail.com)

(As told to Nina C George)

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