A gene to inherit: Vidyu: pro-'jenny'


“How do you solve a problem like Vidyullekha? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you find a word that means Vidyuuu? A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!”

The 1st glimpse I got of Vidyu was onscreen, as I was subtitling Gautam Menon’s ‘Neethaane en pon vasantham’ and my joy knew no bounds. In my mind it is crystal clear we have found someone to fill a vacuum in our Thamizh cinema, a female comedian and character artiste. Mark my words, she will do that, if her dad guides her right and her career is channelized the way it should be. And knowing Mohan Ram, her dad, I am sure there won’t be any glitches there.

A student of Vidya Mandir and then later MOP Vaishnav Viscom, theater caught her fancy as early as 8th grade. Her inspiration at that time was drawn from her cousin Gitanjali who was actively involved in Masquerade, a renowned English theater group.

In 2008 Vidyu acted in Rumpelstiltskin, a grand aural treat presented by the Landing stage where she made a deep impact as the evil leprechaun Rumpelstiltskin.

Adapted by Manasi Subramaniam and directed by Aruna Ganesh Ram in 2010 The Madras Players, in association with Landing Stage presented the delightful memories of Malgudi days, as ‘Swami and friends’. This time Vidyu was in charge of costumes and worked 24 /7 backstage and enjoyed every nanosecond of that experience.

Her beacon of light has always been her dad, I think genetically too! Manorama ‘aachi’ has been her ‘lead kindly light’ inspiring her debut performance in NEP and its Telugu version Yeto Vellipoyindhe Manasu.

Prior to this, one of the landmark events in her young life was an inter-collegiate competition engineered by Airtel Theatricals and Evam in which 50 colleges from across Tamil Nadu participated. After 3 months of auditions and numerous workshops, it was a delightful show from the college students of Chennai performing a contemporary interpretation of Mahabharata where she played an eunuch, police inspector, Bhima and a politician and bagged the best actor prize. It was a proud moment indeed for her parents Mohan and Padma.

She honed her skills in Bharathanatyam (Guru Revathi Ramachandran) Jazz and Hiphop (Kokila Gautham) and dance director Geoffrey Warden of Hot Shoe Entertainment fame actually encouraged her to sing. She is blessed with a unique voice is an understatement.

She learnt Carnatic music from her grandmother Kalpagam Raman who is a vocalist in her own right. Incidentally her grandfather V P Raman, former Advocate General of Tamilnadu, was an excellent violinist who trained under the great master Papa Venkataramaiah.

September 2011 she was asked to meet Reshma Ghatala at Amethyst at 3:00 p.m.  Manasi Subramaniam and TMK had referred her name to Reshma. This is the ‘join the dots’ pet-theory of mine that God has already planned for us. Some of us call it serendipity and others term it destiny! She met Reshma and ‘the’ Gautham Vasudev Menon she had always been in awe of.

Next day was audition and the girl who was never camera-shy froze! Ooops! I forgot to tell you, her 1st time ‘before the camera’ experience was when she was hardly 10 years young. On the sets of ‘Chinna papa periya papa’ in MGM where she accompanied her dad, just for larks. The director S.N Sakthivel came up to her and said, ‘will you act in 1 scene? All you have to do is insult your dad and call him names’ Vidyu had a rollicking time calling Mohan ‘loosu…idiot’ and the whole works!

Cut back to September 21st, she came home absolutely dejected as she had screwed up her chance to name and fame debuting in a GVM film! Mohan Ram however said, ‘call up the A.D and ask if he has sent the tape to GVM or if you can do it again?’ What a thoughtful ‘pearl of wisdom’ and what a sensible dad! Vidyu’s hands flew to her phone. Since she knew the dialogs just to be ‘safe than sorry’ she rehearsed it all over again with her mom. She truly rocked the 2nd time, in front of Manu and Praveen.

She met GVM again and this time was told that Gautham had found his ‘Jenny’! September 21st 2011 is a day Vidyullekha can never forget in this lifetime. 1st day of shoot with Jiiva and Santhanam on the sets. Santhanam in fact calls her ‘terror’! She is the ‘vaayadi vangalasubbhi’ who talks nonstop, the proverbial chatter box full of spirit, sparkle and spunk.

On November 4th 2011 she had the most memorable 1st time cake cutting experience. GVM ordered a surprise b’day cake and with the team and about 500 plus youngsters of SSN college singing ‘happy b’day’ wishes she blew the candles and made her wish. Of course how can this incident be complete without mentioning Santhanam’s punch dialog “a cake is cutting another cake”!

There’s a scene in NEP where Jenny (Vidyu) tells Santhanam, ‘if my dad sees me now with you, that’s it, I am dead meat’ and out of the blue echoed this booming voice ‘Konnae pottuduvane’ (I’ll kill you for sure) The entire crew cast and spectators laughed. Vidyu’s jawline dropped seeing her dad standing right in front of her. Her parents had come to watch her act. Little did they know that this would be the dialog their daughter would be delivering. And Vidyu was zapped. Santhanam was in splits of laughter. This is ad-lib handed on a platter to the reigning king of impromptu humor, indeed!

So here’s wishing Vidyullekha a fun-filled journey where she enjoys her roles and entertains the audience too…rock on, ‘wave upon the sand’

“And I very firmly feel Vidyu's an asset to our film fraternity; I'd like to say a word in her behalf Vidyu makes me laugh”

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