Monday, July 27, 2015

Standing Out From The Crowd

The 3' tall actor, Vijayakrishnan AB, is carving out a niche in Mollywood, in the footsteps of the pioneer, Guinness Pakru

By Shevlin Sebastian

Photos: Vijayakrishnan AB by Ratheesh Sundaram; Guinness Pakru

Vijayakrishnan AB was feeling nervous. He had a scene with Tamil comic superstar Santhanam for the 2014 Malayalam film, 'Salalah Mobiles'. Just before the shoot was to commence, at the AVM Studios in Chennai, the director Sharath A. Haridaasan introduced Vijayakrishnan to Santhanam. The star bent down, shook Vijayakrishnan's hand, and said, “Hi Sir.” Says Vijayakrishnan: “I was stunned for a few moments by the respect he showed.”

The shoot was a brief one: Vijayakrishnan plays a robot, while Santhanam is an over-the-top businessman. After the shoot was over, an impressed Santhanam told the director that in his next film Vijayakrishnan should be given a bigger role. “The director promised to do that,” says Vijayakrishnan.

The 28-year-old draws attention because he is only 3' tall. He grew up in a village called Pookkottumpadam in Malappuram district, Kerala. “In school, I took part in mimicry contests and won prizes,” he says. “That is how my interest in acting was sparked off.”

Vijayakrishnan's life changed when he got a chance to act in the 2005 film, 'Athbutha Dweep'. It is a film where the men on an island are dwarves, while the women have normal height. Vijayakrishnan had heard that director Vinayan was looking for short people, so he got in touch. Subsequently, he got selected.

It was a momentous experience for me,” says Vijayakrishnan, who was then a Class 10 student. “I had an inferiority complex regarding my height. But when I met 250 men, of the same height, more or less, I felt elated. And it was the first time in my life that I could put my arms around somebody’s shoulders, and that person was not a child, but an adult.”

Vijayakrishnan had another revelation. During the shoot, he was staying with the other actors in a hotel at Malampuzha in Palakkad district. One evening the group wanted to go out of the room, but they could not reach the door handle. And it was Vijayakrishnan who opened the door. “I was the only one who had long arms,” he says. “Even Guinness Pakru Sir's arms are short.”

Guinness Pakru has been the pioneering short actor in Mollywood. Despite being 2'6”, he has acted in numerous films in Malayalam and Tamil, and became a director for 'Kuttiyum Kollam'(2013). In 2008, he earned an entry in the Guinness Book Of World Records for being the shortest lead actor to act in full-length films.

Pakru Sir has been an inspiration,” says Vijayakrishnan. “And he has always encouraged me.”

So far, Vijayakrishnan has acted in eight films. These include 'Ee Pattanathil Bhootham', 'Seconds', 'Chirakodinja Kinavukal' and the about-to-be released 'Viswasam Athalle Ellam'. Apart from films and stage shows, Vijayakrishnan has taken part in a popular comedy show on a Malayalam television channel. He belonged to a troupe called 'Little Stars'. It comprised of five short people: Pradeep Perumbavur, Shafeek Kollam, Sumesh Vaikom, Baiju Kodungallur and himself.

Once the episodes were aired, people began to recognise me,” says Vijayakrishnan. “I received a lot of love and affection. Viewers would often call me, and give comments on Facebook and Whatsapp. So, unlike what most people think, I believe my biggest advantage is my shortness. It has enabled me to stand out from the crowd.”

But to stand out further, Vijayakrishnan has one request. “Scriptwriters should write meatier roles for short people like me,” he says. “It is only then that we will be able to shine.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi) 

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