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Engineers turned Entertainers – F’day Spl. article by Naveen

National Engineers’ Day was celebrated recently to remember Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, a great engineer from India who had designed and patented automatic water floodgates.

A Bharat Ratna awardee, Visvesvaraya was also a renowned precursor of economic planning in India. Well, our Tamil cinema too has qualified engineers as actors, actresses and directors. Let’s have a look at some of them as part of Mykollywood.com’s Friday special article series.


Sivakarthikeyan was a student of J J College of Engineering and Technology. During his college days he took part in various cultural events and performed mimicry and standup comedy on stage.

Between his studies he took three months break and during this period his friends convinced him to go for auditions of Kalakka Povathu Yaaru, a reality show for comedy aired on Star Vijay.He started his career as a mimcry artist.

Despite initial reluctance to participate, he won the show. He appeared in short films including his friend Atlee’s ‘Mugapputhagam’, ‘Identity’, ‘Kurahl 786’ and ‘360°’. He then hosted TV shows and made his cinema debut with ‘Marina’. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Karthi did his under graduation at B S Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology and then enrolled at Binghamton University, New York, where he earned his Master of Science in Industrial Engineering.

While pursuing his masters, he also took elective courses on filmmaking. He stated: “I always knew I wanted to be in films, but I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. I loved movies and watched a lot of them. But my father insisted that I get a good education before I joined the film industry”

When Karthi returned to Chennai, he met director Mani Ratnam and got a chance to work as an assistant director for the film ‘Ayutha Ezhuthu’ because he wanted to become a film director and preferred directing to acting.

He continued to receive acting offers and his father convinced him to take up acting, telling him ” … one can always direct films, but one will not get a chance to act once you grow older”. That’s how he became an actor with ‘Paruthi Veeran’.


Arya studied at Crescent Engineering College. While working as an assistant software engineer, Arya was approached by the cinematographer Jeeva to audition for his ‘Ullam Ketkumae’ in 2003. The pair had lived in the same neighbourhood. Arya signed on for the project.

However, Arya’s first appearance was as Kutty, in Vishnuvardhan’s ‘Arinthum Ariyamalum’. In an interview several years later, Arya also stated, “If people know Arya, it is because of the ‘Thee pidika…’ track”, a song from the film’s soundtrack, creditting and expressing gratitude to its composer Yuvan Shankar Raja.

His next release, the delayed Ullam Ketkumae, portraying Arya as a college cricketer, also carried good reviews and was a successful venture at the box office. His third release in 2005, was the campus romance story, ‘Oru Kalluriyin Kathai’ opposite Sonia Agarwal, took a strong opening but failed to find commercial acceptance. However, after also gaining favourable reviews for his performance, Arya was labelled as the new ‘pin-up’ of Tamil cinema at the time and attracted offers for films.


Bindu Madhavi studied at Vellore Institute of Technology. She completed her degree in Biotechnology there. While in college, she started modelling, with her first assignment being for Saravana Stores.

She had the desire to act in films but her family was strictly against her entering the film industry. She went ahead with her passion and met celebrity photographer Venket Ram in Chennai who agreed to do a portfolio shoot for her. She stated that Venket Ram was “amazingly helpful”.

She was then selected by noted Telugu director Sekhar Kammula to act in his production, ‘Avakai Biryani’ (2008), while she also landed a supporting role in Cheran’s ‘Pokkisham’. Since then, she is part of Tamil and Telugu films.


Priya Bhavani Shankar was a student of B S Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology. She began her career as a software engineer at Infosys, after her Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering.

After entering the media industry she did her Master of Business Administration (MBA). Her first recognition was a Television News presenter in Tamil Puthiya Thalaimurai Channel. She became very popular once started acting as a serial actress in Star Vijay Television’s ‘Kalyanam Mudhal Kadhal Varai’. She made her film debut with ‘Meyaadha Maan’.


Gautham Vasudev Menon was a student of Mechanical Engineering at Mookambigai College of Engineering, and his time there inspired him to write the lead characters of ‘Minnale’, ‘Vaaranam Aayiram’ and ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa’.

His mother insisted that he become an ad film maker by shooting various commercials and he took an apprenticeship under filmmaker Rajiv Menon. He went on to work as an assistant director for ‘Minsara Kanavu’ (1997), in which he also appeared in a cameo role.

Gautham launched a Tamil romance film ‘O Lala’ in 2000 with the project eventually changing producers and title into ‘Minnale’ (2001). That’s how Tamil cinema got its stylish romantic director.


Karthik Subbaraj studied at Thiagarajar College of Engineering. During his college days he performed stage shows and skits. Karthik Subbaraj had intended to direct ‘Jigarthanda’ first but could not fund the project. He then came up with the story for the low-budget ‘Pizza’ which introduced the 7.1 sound system.

The film was a commercial success, remade in Hindi and Kannada. This allowed him the opportunity to make ‘Jigarthanda’, which received positive reviews and earned actor Bobby Simha a national award.

Subbaraj, a Rajinikanth fanatic, directed the action thriller ‘Petta’, the superstar’s 165th film. That was his lifetime ambition.
He is now busy with a film with Dhanush.

By Naveen


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