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Creating something special

From back-up dancer to leading man in movies, Denes Kumar proves that perseverance and hard work pays off

23 Mar 2020 / 11:36 H.

A man of many talents, Denes Kumar is not only a loving husband and father of two, but also a successful local actor, emcee, producer and film distributor.

Much of his success can be attributed to the fact that he is not the kind of person who waits for things to happen to him.

He was originally studying computer engineering, but had always dreamed of being in showbiz.

As luck would have it, in 2001, he got a job as a back-up dancer for a Tamil singing competition on Astro. He later started choreographing some songs, and moved on to becoming the lead dancer.

He also starred in a few TV dramas, but the real turning point of his career came in 2005 when he landed the job of emcee for the dance competition series Aattam 100 Vagai.

His easygoing style of presentation won him many fans.

“I was 23 years old then,” Denes said during an interview session with theSun. “The Tamil media was critical of the way I spoke Tamil. They said it was not very good. They felt I should have spoken in a more formal manner. I wanted to talk the way regular people talked so that my audience could relate.”

Nonetheless the show was a hit, running for a few seasons, and Denes said that it was due to all the hard work that went into the production.

“Working was my priority at that time. People liked my hosting, and so I did more of that.

“My wife, Dr Vimala Perumal, and I shot a short film, Navarasas (which she also directed), that we submitted to the Busan International Film Festival. We then produced another short film called Appa, which we later [developed into] the full-length film Vilaiyaatu Pasange in 2011.

“Both of us wrote it, I produced and acted, while she directed.”

Creating something special

Vilaiyaatu Pasange was the first of three films, and it was based on what Denes and his wife observed around them. It was about some playful young men who didn’t pay attention to their studies.

The sequel Vetti Pasanga (2014) showed what happened after they failed their studies, and ended up unemployed.

The final film in the trilogy, Vedigundu Pasangge (2018), became the highest-grossing locally-produced Tamil film in Malaysia, and saw the young men eventually fall into a bad crowd and end up breaking the law.

For Vedigundu Pasangge, the producers held the film’s music launch in Chennai, and released the film in Chennai, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

“The real reason we released our movie outside of Malaysia is that we wanted the exposure.”

To top it off, the movie won best film at the Norway Tamil Film Festival, where it was not only viewed by Tamil-speaking locals but other Norwegians as well, who saw a different side of Malaysia instead of the Twin Towers.

“I think the more exposure we get internationally, the more people will be aware of our movie industry.

“Our culture is a bit unique. We have people of different cultures who get together. You have Malays and Chinese who speak a little bit of Tamil. That only happens in Malaysia.”

The movie was also nominated for best film at the Malaysian Film Festival 2019, and was bestowed a Special Jury Award.

Creating something special

Denes also co-hosted a travel show called KL to Karaikudi, where he and co-host Nisha Wong travelled through several countries on a motorbike, soaking in the local culture and enjoying the local cuisine.

Denes’ most recent film is KL Vampire, a Malay language film. He plans to produce another Malay language film with his wife directing. He said it will be a family comedy.

He is also taking a break from filming a Kollywood film titled Demon and is waiting for the next round of shooting to start.

As an actor, he is inspired by Tamil superstar Rajnikanth.

“I just like his charisma, something he still has after decades in the film industry. This is [the result of] hard work, and he has been doing it for a long time. ”

Denes also added: “In this job, sometimes you spend so much time away, and you never get to spend as much time as you want with your kids.

“I am lucky that I have a wife who pushes me. She is also hardworking.”

His will next be producing and writing for a 26-episode Tamil TV series called Tamilletchumy, which revolves around three modern women trying to overcome various problems.

“We don’t want to follow any drama from Kollywood. It [has to be] unique on its own. If it gets a good response from the local audience, we will try to sell the series outside the country. What is important is that we must have local support first.”

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