Monday, March 26, 2012
The long and the short of it!
Photo: Guinness Pakru with Jayaram in 'My Big Father'
By Shevlin Sebastian
The first sight of Guinness Pakru is always a shock. He is standing next to a sofa, and barely reaches above the cushion level. Then he places his arms on the sofa, and with a swift and easy movement, he pulls himself up. A red cushion, which is next to Pakru, looks larger. Pakru is only 2’ 6” tall and is dressed in a dynamic manner: a shimmering blue shirt over black trousers, a thick gold necklace around his neck and several rings on his fingers. People, at a studio in Kochi, come up and shake hands with him. There is a request for photographs, so Pakru stands on the sofa, and snaps are taken.
Pakru is a Malayalam film star, who has acted in 50 films in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. In 'My Big Father', released in 2009, he was one of the heroes, along with Jayaram.
Recently, a biography was released. ‘Cheriya Chuvadugalum, Valiya Jeevithavum’ (Small steps, Big Life’), by writer-journalist Tony Chittettukalam, details Pakru's struggles to have a good education – he is a post-graduate in economics – and to live in dignity in a society where people look down on short people. And it concludes with his career in Mollywood.
Pakru made his mark in Mollywood, when one of the industry’s seasoned directors, Vinayan, selected him as a hero for his film, ‘Albutha Dweep’ (Wonder Island). Based loosely on Gulliver’s Travels, the story is set in an island called Vamanapuri, where the men are 3 feet tall. Around 300 short people acted in the film. Amazingly, Pakru did all the stunts, including horse riding, on his own.
Interestingly, Vinayan says that it was Pakru who provided the impetus. “He approached me one day to make a film on short people,” says Vinayan. “Pakru said, ‘Sir, I am tired of straining my neck and looking up. Can I do something where I can look straight at people?' And that made me decide to do this film.”
'Albutha Dweep' went on to become a box-office hit, and is the first film where a short person is the hero. It resulted in a Special Jury Mention in the Kerala State film awards in 2005 and also an unexpected international award: Pakru merited an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest hero playing an adult role in a commercial film. He has not looked back ever since. “This is my 25th year in Mollywood,” says Pakru, who has put up a new website: www.guinnesspakru.com.
Pakru also has a new house, 'Akshaya', in Kottayam and moves around in a Dzire, sitting on several cushions in the back seat. But the icing on the cake was his arranged marriage with Gayatri, who is 5’2” tall, on March 8, 2006
Asked about the type of person he is, Gayatri says, “Ajayan [Pakru] has his own individuality. He is very strong mentally. I admire that quality the most in him. He has come so far only because of his strong will.” Today, the couple has a three-year-old daughter, Deepthakeerthi.
And one who is not surprised at his success is Vinayan. “Pakru is hard-working, dedicated, sincere and has a natural talent, especially in mimicry,” he says.
A tall man, indeed!
(The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)