Monday, 29 June 2015

An interview with Srikrishna Dayal aka Vandiya Devan

Srikrishna Dayal as Vandiya Devan
in Magic Lantern's Ponniyin Selvan

Click here to read the character sketch 
of Vandiya Devan

The most popular protagonist of all times, Vandiya Devan is as charming as he is brave. He is a man who would laugh at the face of death and will never fail to impress any beautiful woman who is within his radius. Fans of Ponniyin Selvan debate endlessly as to who would do justice to his role in a movie or a series but Magic Lantern did a casting coup when they cast Srikrishna Dayal in the coveted role of Vandiya Devan in their play in 2014.

Srikrishna Dayal was an Airline Professional for many years before he stepped on the stage in 2002. Acting in theatre was a passion that has defined his life in many ways. He has acted in many plays produced by Magic Lantern - Pattam (Richard III by Shakespeare) Moonshine and Skytoffee, Jujubee and many others. He is also an entrepreneur who has his own car rental business that allows him to indulge in his passion for theatre.

I loved his interpretation of Vandiya Devan’s character in the play and was thrilled when he agreed for an interview.

1. Have you read the novel Ponniyin Selvan?
     Yes. I have read the novel in 2013, when Kumaravel told me that Magic Lantern would be performing it as a play.  

   2.  Did you know that you were playing the most popular hero in Tamil Literature when you signed up for this role? 
Firstly I had no clue what character I was going to play. My wife, incidentally her name is also Nandini had read the novel and she kept on saying that the only character that would be apt for me was Vandiya Devan. I thought I would be given the role of Parthibendran.
I was nervous and excited when I heard that I would play Vandiya Devan but at that time, I had no idea about the popularity of this character. As the date of the show neared, I got nervous when people started saying that MGR was touted to do Vandiya Devan’s role in a movie. But I had Kumaravel (Script writer) and Pravin’s (director) support and encouragement and that allowed me to interpret the role in my own way.

   3.    How did you prepare for this role? 
      Vandiya Devan is a very enterprising character and very adventurous. That’s what gets  him into trouble most of the time. While we rehearsed for this role, I had to bring in a lot  of discipline in my daily routine and work on my body language and physique. 

    4.    What are the things that you love about Vandiya Devan?
       His commitment towards his boss, Prince Aditya Karikalan. As a character he is       adventurous and goes off the track to do things but despite all that he is single-minded about protecting his Prince from all harm. It is this loyalty that defines his character. During the novel, we find him questioning himself about the futility of his purpose in life. He actually asks himself why he needs to serve the Cholas especially when they were the main reason for him losing his kingdom. But he soon regains his perspective and knows that Cholas were far better conquerors than many others in the history. 

    5.  Any unforgettable moments that you had in the stage during the performance last year?

     During last year’s show when Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar and I were sword fighting on the stage I had got hurt by the blade when I fell on the cart that was behind me. I was bleeding in the face and everything became bloody. I couldn’t take a break and check the damage as my scenes were coming up. That was an unforgettable moment for me and for the rest of the artists too as they were very upset.

   6.    Who is your favourite character in the play, men and women?
     Aditya Karikalan is my favourite character. Among the women, it is Nandini. She is a very intriguing character and its difficult to figure her out and she is a master of manipulation.

   7.    Who do you think killed Aditya Karikalan?
     I think Ravi Dasan killed him though left on his own, he would have committed suicide.

   8.    Manimeghalai’s character is missing from the play and that has upset many hard core fans of Ponniyin Selvan. What are your thoughts on this? Were you upset when she was not cast in the play?

     Yes very upset. I lost a chance to act with one more girl. Manimeghalai lost her life and her wits for the love of Vandiya Devan and her disappearance is quite upsetting. That’s why when we rehearse the scenes in Kadambur Malligai, Director Pravin would station one or two girls on the stage saying ‘Here is your Manimeghalai’.

   9.    What was your reaction to the audience’s response to your role in the play last year?
     The response was amazing. We were appreciated by Superstar Rajinikanth and many others and I was overwhelmed by the audience’s response.

     Magic Lantern has come back to town for yet another season of Ponniyin Selvan. 

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