He was an aspiring actor who spoke in stilted English. So no one wanted to cast Pawan Kumar in any of their plays. That’s when he decided to write his own productions. He also saw an NIE (Newspaper in Education) Play Fest in 1995 where different teams competed through productions they would stage. It was the first time he had watched a play. “When the chance to participate in Play
Fest came up the next year, I thought we should give it a go,” he says. “I didn’t know that written plays existed. So I wrote and conceptualised the entire production. And that year, we won the first place.”
TRUE CALLING Though Pawan enjoyed theatre, he never thought he would do it full time. But after a few semesters of writing engineering exams, one day he walked out of the exam hall having scribbled the words, “This is the last exam I am writing,” on his paper.
In 2002, he wrote, directed and performed solo in The
Final Rehearsal in front of Alyque Padamsee’s son, Quasar, who was recruiting for THESPO—THE annual theatre festival in Mumbai. That year, he won the Best Actor Award. After two years, he returned to Bangalore to start his own theatre company, ACTOR Productions.
MOVING TO THE SILVER SCREEN But theatre has a budget restraint and Kumar found that he was not able to attract the kind of audience that he wanted to with the available funds. So he went back to Mumbai to learn film-making. When he came back to Bangalore, he was cast as a villain by director Suri of Duniya fame in his latest at the time, Inthi Ninna Preethiya. Through Suri, he met director Yogaraj Bhat, known for his hit film Mungaru Male, which he co-wrote with Preetam Gubbi. Kumar worked with Bhat as an assistant director until he was offered to direct his own film Lifeu Ishtene in 2010—a dark comedydrama that raked in an opening collection of Rs six crore and received positive critical reviews.
After three years with the director’s camp, Kumar is now working on his first independent feature film.
“He is one of my favourite people. I expect many great things from him in the future. He is an asset to Karnataka.”
YOGARAJ BHAT, DIRECTOR
“My parents were unhappy about my career choice and cut me off financially. That was good because it taught me how to stand on my
own two feet.”