A Star 25 Years In The Making

19 Aug

SINGAPORE : Nowadays, Vadi PVSS (no, we don’t know what it stands for, either) is getting a lot more attention than he’s been used to.

People approach him for autographs and pictures. Others smile and say “hi”. He even gets “special treatment” at restaurants and enjoys the occasional free taxi ride.

What Vadi is getting is no mere attention – it’s star treatment.

But if he’s so famous, how come you have never heard of him? Here’s a clue: “Ey, Mumbai da, India!”

Vadi delivered the punchline for a Viewers’ Choice-winning 30-second TV commercial by M1.

He is now the star of the new 30-minute MediaCorp TV Channel 5 sitcom, “Calefare”, which also stars Gurmit Singh, Fiona Xie and Benjamin Heng.

The 38-year-old may be a new face to Channel 5 viewers, but that is not the case with the Tamil community in Singapore and even Malaysia.

That’s because Vadi has been doing TV shows on MediaCorp’s Vasantham Central -such as Kanbom Karpom (Let’s See Let’s Learn) – since he was 13.

In fact, he was proud to tell TODAY that he won the Best Actor award in 1998 for the drama, Amali Thumali.

So, why did it take Vadi 25 years to cross over to Channel 5?

He doesn’t want to be too famous, he said. “I didn’t want to do English programmes because I felt that it would take away your privacy completely”, said the part-time actor although he did make an appearance in thesitcom, Gurmit’s World (1994).

When he agreed to take on the advertisement that would propel him to island-wide fame, Vadi had no idea that it would be aired “full blast” on prime-time TV and on the big screen.

“They said it might be a trade advertisement … Then, it came out and everyone was watching it,” said the chatty comedian, who holds two Masters degrees.

Although acting is a passion and a part-time hobby, it is his day job that gets his full attention.

No, he does not own an Indian restaurant in Mumbai. “I’m an economics teacher”, said Vadi, who works at a top junior college, where he gets teased endlessly by students who chorus “Mumbai da!” when they see him

He is also the teacher-in-charge of its drama club. As if there’s not enough on his plate, Vadi is also the founding member of two theatre groups – the Ravinbran Drama Group, a leading ῭῭20-year-old Tamil theatre group, and the Miror Theatre.

“My experience allows me to impart my knowledge to my students,” said the former Tampines Junior College student. “I’ve also gotten some of them to act on TV.”

Maybe someday they, too, can star in their own 30-second commercial. Dream big, kids. Dream big.

“Calefare” airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on MediaCorp’s Channel 5. –

Channel News Asia

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