Sameera Reddy Mathiya Chennai
Nalai Namathe
 
 
From Sivaji to Rajini- the name game
What’s in a name? Not much, we might think. But, in tinsel town, a name seems to be everything. Writers like to have pen names and actors like to have screen names. No one knows who started the trend of having screen names, but it sure has caught on like a craze. It would not be wrong to say that it has become a rule rather than an exception to have a screen name. Screen names are no secret, we know the real names of most stars; there will be very few people who do not know that Rajinikanth was born as Sivaji Rao Gaekwad, likewise, most of us know that Tamil cinema’s legendary actor was only Ganesan before he brought Sivaji to life on stage. We could go on for ever with such names. But, let’s try something different. Why not categorize screen names by their origins, i.e., the reason why they came into being. Some actors are given
  Vikram

screen names by their mentors, some get prefixes or suffixes due to unforgettable performances and others adopt new names because their original ones are not that crisp and easy to recall.

Amongst names given by mentors to their wards the most famous has to be Rajinikanth itself, given by the legendary KB. Then there are a whole lot of heroines introduced by Bharathiraja who have screen names given by him, like Radha and Ranjitha, Bharathiraja itself being the screen name adopted by Chinnasamy. Malayalam director Sathyan Anthikkad felt that Diana Mariam Kurien is too long and anglicized for a desi heroine and changed it to Nayanthara, similarly Lohithadass modified Jasmine Joseph to Meera Jasmine.

The most common type of screen name has to be the ones with suffixes and prefixes that stuck on after a memorable performance. The most famous in this category has to be the legendary Ganesan who got the Sivaji prefix. Then Mohan was labeled Crazy for his antics, Ravi got a permanent Jayam prefix after his debut and many examples like Thalaivasal Vijay, Nizhalgal Ravi, Mahanadi Shankar etc. There is also the type of names that have come into being due to a characteristic trait of an artiste; try this: Gundu Kalyanam, Omakuchi Narasimham etc. Then there are stuntmen in cinema who like to have fiery prefixes like Kanal Kannan, Stunt Siva, Anal Arasu, Super Subbarayan and the likes.

But the most common reason to have screen names seems to be the non-malleable nature of the original ones which might be too big or twisted to easily pronounce or recall. That is how perhaps the rather cumbersome Jamshad Cethiracat became Arya, John Victor Kennedy became Vikram (many say that he adopted the name because of being a huge fan of Kamal’s film of the same name). Another huge Kamal fan once saw Kuruthi Punal and changed his name from Prabhu and adopted the codename of the operation in the movie to become Dhanush. Mysskin adopted his fancy name from a Russian book. Joseph Vijay changed to the much crisper Vijay, Vivekananth changed to the short and sweet Vivek, Mohammad Kutty became Mammootty etc.

Then, some actors are forced to change their names for identification purposes. Saravanan had to become Suriya (it has now changed to Suriya) because there was another Saravanan around, Ganesan had to prefix the name of his first employer Gemini because there was another Ganesan with a Sivaji prefix.

Spiritual reason brings about changes like in the case of Dhileep Kumar who became A.R. Rahman or Lawrence who became Raghava Lawrence. There are also many instances where we have no clue of the reason behind the changed name, like in the case of Moorthi who became Parthiban or C. Krishna Rao Gundu Rao who was known to us as Nagesh.

It is indeed fascinating to note that screen names seem more prevalent than real names in cinema. In tinsel town, a name seems to be more than just a name.

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