PART-II - The Man within the Artist

Interview by Velgean Fernando

Mr.Jeyaraj ,Mrs. Regina Jeyaraj holding their grandson Thilak, son Disney, daughter Hilda, son-in-law Mano and grand-daughter Kavitha.

V. What comes to your mind when I say 'Manapad'?

J. I have heard about Manapad and in fact passed through Manapad on a journey down south. But this cannot be called as a visit. The mention of 'Manapad" brings a vision of sand dunes in the front and tiled houses in the distance reminiscent of a small coastal Portuguese village. During my younger days in Madurai, there was a Christian religious store in the 'Vakil New street', a family concern run by Manapadians. They were good friends of my father who was the Manager of Madurai Spencer & Co., at that time. I particularly remember one gentleman who was called 'Hitler' by everybody because he sported the hair style and moustache of Hitler, even though his real name was Richard. I have forgotten his surname. Manapadians in those days were known for their academic excellence and my father used to say that the first Engineer in the Tuticorin region was from Manapad.

V. What basic quality in a man (apart from artistic skills) makes him a successful artist?

J. One should be a GOOD MAN to be a successful artist! This answer may look strange at the first instance. But if you think in a logical way you will know it is true. Art - be it any art like drawing, music, dancing, singing and so on, it is a field in which you cannot lie in your expression. When your end product is untruthful, people will reject it. Further when you are good , you are accepted every where and no door is shut on your face. When you are refused admittance you miss the chance of observation in that situation. Observation is the essence of being a successful artist. When you are good you get the maximum opportunity for observation.

V. Suppose God gives you an opportunity to rewind your life and relive all that you experienced once again - Will you say yes? But remember you cannot make any changes in the events. You will relive exactly the way you lived so far!

J. I know the 'trap' in this question! Anyone who had not lived a fuller life and suffered all along, will say 'No'. But fortunately for me, I don't have any regrets and I lived a happy life consistently. Hence my answer is a big "YES"!

V. Do you want a Government body to control "Internet"?

J. Certainly not. It is like press freedom. If you call this country a free country then control on intellectual property is out. We had a strict censor board for films. But when the satellite channels arrived, the 'scissors' went to sleep. Further it is also extremely difficult to control the Internet web sites. Certain countries like Singapore tried this and failed miserably. In plain words no one can contain progress. If at all any control is necessary, it is the people who should exercise self control.

V. Which 10 years are the best periods in your life?

J. Though I am tempted to say my bachelor years, a search of heart will reveal that the first 10 years of married life was the best period. Apart from the obvious reasons!, that was the time when I became popular as an artist of merit and there was a fulfilment in my life. Most of all, my two children whom I adore were born in this period and to watch them grow as small kids was great!

V. Your various interviews in the media shows that you are western oriented, in the sense that you like western art, music, dances etc., in this context I want to ask you, will you now settle in USA or Australia given the opportunity?

J. I have never said that I only like western art, music, dance and so on. One can also say that Titanic is a good film apart from enjoying Tamil films which are worth enjoyable. I like the best of both the worlds. In regard to settling down in USA or Australia -NO! I am sentimental towards the people around me, not only the members of my family, but also the others with whom I interact everyday or now and then. I want them all with me. Perhaps if a colony can be established in Australia with all the people I know, the answer may be YES!

V. Have you ever regretted for having born as a Tamil and wished to have born in some other state or country?

J. Not at all! Never!! I am very much privileged to be a Tamilian, who speaks the oldest living language! Tamil gave me the sensitiveness to be an observant artist and the language gave us the culture to accommodate one and all. People who were born and brought up in England know only about their culture, language and traditions. But here I am a Tamil who not only know the culture and tradition of India, but also the English language, tradition and culture. Hence my knowledge on worldly matters is multi-fold than an average westerner. Moreover there are so many inexplicable hierarchical sections in a Tamil's mind, which responds independently for each situation in life, without taking any inference from the other section of the mind. It may be difficult to comprehend this, but I am sure every one of you would have experienced this factor. A Tamil can blend with anyone from any country but the vice versa is not possible.

V. Do you think you have achieved what you wished to be in life?

J. First of all I do not believe in set goals. Let us assume that a man want to be the Managing Director of a company. Suppose he achieved that goal by the age of 48, do you mean to say that he has no other goal after the age of 48 and he just looks for his last day of life? I cannot attribute one target for achievement. Living a peaceful, healthy and contented life in this world is the greatest achievement any human being can strive for. As for me, every act, every little thing I do and every day I live, are achievements.

V. What you expect most in woman and for that matter in a man?

J. As an artist who is known far drawing beautiful women, you may rightly expect an answer that I will say beauty first! But the answer is NO. Drawing beautiful women is one thing but beautiful women with no brains bore me! Women with only beauty are very self-conscious about their looks and they either forget or don't have the mind to respond to the others around them.

A woman should be intelligent, loving and then lastly beautiful. For a man also I will assign the same order but substituting "manly" for "beautiful".

Mr.Jeyaraj may be contacted at his email address : jeyarajartist@hotmail.com