Siddharth Dhananjay grew up listening to his mother Kamali teaching music to the children in their expat colony in Indonesia. And for a time he wanted to be a music director. But little did he realise that his spoof music videos would land him a role in Hollywood as an actor.
“The director — Geremy Jasper — saw one of my videos online and contacted me, asking me for audition. Things worked out from there,” said 21-year-old Siddharth who plays the friend and fan of aspiring rapper Patti (Danielle Macdonald) in the film Patti Cake$.
The film will be among 19 feature films at the 49th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and will be screened on May 27.
Born in Thiruvananthapuram, Siddharth moved to Indonesia when his father Sundararajan joined PT South Pacific Viscose. After completing his fifth grade, Siddharth moved back to India to study at the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh. He then went on to graduate in Economics from Grinnell College in Iowa.
“We never knew that he was interested in music and acting. He was a brilliant student and thought he would pursue a career academically. But we are all excited about his new career,” said Venkatachalam, Siddharth’s grandfather.
The young actor’s granduncle incidentally is the Tamil writer, Krishnan Nambi.
Not a rapper
Though his parody rap videos posted in WordstarHipHop drew the attention of Mr. Jasper, Siddarath said he would not call himself a rapper.
“The videos me and my friends make are entertaining, spoof music videos. Nevertheless, I was very drawn to music growing up. I still remember a little bit of sarali varisai,” he told The Hindu in an email interview, recalling his mother’s music classes.
Siddharth said after Patti Cake$, his focus has been to get a visa which would allow him to work as an actor in the U.S.
Asked about his priority — a career in film or music — he said Patti Cake$ had been an incredible experience.
“I learned a lot working with such a talented team and grew exponentially as an actor. I definitely hope to work on music in the future but I would definitely consider myself an actor first and foremost,” he said.
“My whole family has been extremely excited about this whole experience and cannot wait to see what I do next,” he signed off.