Ramesh Aravind: I was always toying with the idea of making a desi Sherlock Holmes in Kannada
The actor talks about his upcoming Shivaji Surathkal 2, director Akash Srivatsa, the challenges of connecting with the audience today, and more
With approximately over 100 films across Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi cinema, Ramesh Aravind has proved his versatility by doing romantic films, comedies, and family entertainers. However, in recent times, Ramesh has gravitated towards the thriller genre, and it is set to continue with his upcoming film, Shivaji Surathkal 2. The film is set to hit the screens on April 14, and Ramesh has a strong connection with April releases, considering the bonafide success of the 1997 film, America America, which hit screens on April 11, 1997. “I just saw a post about America America, which created history in Karnataka. It also reminded me of great films that I was fortunate enough to be part of that has fuelled my film career since then. Having shifted so many genres over time, I have to say it has been an interesting journey,” says the actor-filmmaker.
Since Ramesh strongly believes he needs to look the part he is playing and choose roles that allow his style of acting, mystery, and thrillers seem to be his go-to genre. Interestingly, even before director Akash Srivatsa pitched Shivaji Surathkal, Ramesh Aravind had a passion for the investigative genre. An avid reader, Ramesh shares his memory of reading James Hadley Chase and Sherlock Holmes. “I was toying with the idea of a desi Sherlock Holmes in Kannada, and when Akash narrated this thriller, I knew it was exactly what I was waiting for.”
With the success of the first giving birth to the sequel, Ramesh reveals that the support from the younger audience was the best compliment he received. “Whenever I met these youngsters at college functions, they talked about Shivaji Surathkal in the same breath as an America America, and Amrutha Varshini, or my reality show, Weekend with Ramesh. Shivaji Surathakal became a brand of sorts,” says the actor, who plays a role that is in direct contrast to his personal life. “By nature, I’m very calm and composed. I like to do things methodically. But Shivaji is always on the edge. He can get angry in a jiffy, and shout at people. Unlike me, Shivaji has sleep issues. The hallucinations angle and other layers of the character made it an interesting endeavour.”
In the sequel, which is about the mysterious case of Mayavi, Ramesh plays the dual role of the titular officer and another undisclosed character that has a negative shade. “Who is he, should be watched on the big screen, and the suspense revolves around it,” he says.
Shivaji Surathkal is the latest in a series of sequels, and Ramesh is quick to point out that it isn’t a two-parter like the KGF or Baahubali films. “Here the character is just investigating another case. In the first part, Shivaji Surathkal handled case no 101, and in the sequel, he is investigating his 131st case. Almost 30 cases and six years have passed between the films,” he clarifies.
Another highlight of Shivaji Surathkal 2 is the strong women character, and Ramesh Aravind is elated to have worked with such talents. ‘Meghana Gaonkar, Radhika Narayan, Aaradya, Sangeetha Sringeri play the beautiful and pivotal characters in the film, which is essentially a whodunit. However, the film also has a strong emotional core involving a father-daughter, and a father-son equation, which has been beautifully written by Akash. On one end, we have a cat-and-mouse game, and the other celebrates interpersonal relationships.”
Talking about his director Akash, who also helmed the first part, Ramesh says, “Akash has a new-age story to tell, and I was looking for a competent director to handle such subjects.” Though Ramesh is not aware of how and why Akash imagined him in the role as Shivaji, the actor-filmmaker says, “His association with me began with Accident, where he worked as an associate. He was in my team, and I saw the talent in him, and also his editing skills. He says I am his mentor, which is too big a word. We are often like friends brainstorming ideas, and he is kind enough to accept my input. It is a good collaboration, and the synergy helps. This happens only if the intention is good. The team consists of young talents, who are making their career, and each one has tried to add value to the film.”
Going by the popular trend of pan-India films, why did the team not plan to release Shivaji Surathkal in multiple languages? “The whole game of multilingual releases has changed. You release in one language, automatically it goes across regions, and in different languages. On OTT, the streamers dub the film in multiple languages. So we avoided doing this because it is a huge mission and required a huge investment,” he says.
Having spent over 35 years in the industry, how is he seeing the modern challenge of bringing the audience to the there’s? “First, we had the Doordarshan channels. Then, a flurry of private channels. And now, we are in the social media age. Today, it is indeed difficult to be noticed, Ultimately, what worked with Amercia America, and continued till Shivaji Surathkal is the audience’s opinion. If the movie is really good, then crossing the challenge of bringing in the audience diminishes,” he says.
Mentioning a few lines of the Buddha to elucidate his takeaways from Shivaji Surathkal 2, Ramesh Arvind says, “There comes a time in life when we lose everything we love. Everything we like and passionately love will leave us one by one, and that is the final statement in the film too. But, rest assured that
Shivaji Surathkal 2 is a Sherlock Holmes kind of a film with a strong desi touch,” he signs off.