Ravichandran wants to add class to mass films
On his birthday, the veteran actor and filmmaker is looking to sharpen his focus and work on films that serve as family entertainers
At 56, Ravichandran manages to charm his fans just as easily as he has been doing for years now. But with experience, the actor-director now feels that he wants to add a touch of class to his mass-appealing films. The filmmaker, who is synonymous with the ‘crazy’ tag, has recently been trying to change that by including a touch of class to his work. And it is quite evident with his latest outings, both in directorial projects (Ekangi to Rajendra Ponappa) and acting assignments (Drishya, or the recent Guru Deshpande’s Paddehuli).
“As a filmmaker, I started out with commercially-appealing mass subjects. My attempt to class up my work started with Ekangi. This trend will change again with Rajendra Ponappa, a film that has both class and mass appeal, in addition to being meant for a family audience. While masses look for a good entertainer, I also want to cater to the class audience looking for a takeaway from my films. But what will please me immensely is when families come together to watch my film,” says Ravichandran, who is currently focusing on socially-relevant subjects.
The actor who celebrates his birthday today says that but for his fans, he would’ve instead preferred celebrating the release of a film over his birthday. “After 50, everyone becomes 51, 52, 53, but after 50, I have started becoming 1, 2 and 3. I have removed the 5,” says Ravichandran with a laugh. He adds: “Even though my body might be ageing and may not co-operate the way it used to, I still push myself and work hard. So, I never feel old. At least in my way of thinking, I feel young.”
Ravichandran dons the role of a Kannada professor for the first time in Shreya Manju’s Paddehuli, directed by Guru Deshpande. The makers revealed the first look of the actor in the film and requested fans of the Crazy Star to read a book in celebration of his birthday.
‘I am a responsible filmmaker’
Time and again, Ravichandran, has been able to gauge the pulse of the audience, and has consistently catered to their changing needs. With age and experience on his side, the audience have been looking to him for new-age subjects. Is the demand for variety challenging?
“Audiences are used to my style. So if they suddenly find me doing anything else, they feel like they’re not watching Ravichandran on screen. Having said that, I’m also trying to change them. Otherwise, how can I experiment? I hope my audience share my enthusiasm for trying something new,” he says.
Ravichandran, who has been in the industry for 36 years, admits that he wasn’t bright academically. Though he has no degree attached to his name, he has no regrets as he feels the film industry has been his best teacher. “My education started with the experience I got in doing films. The people around me have taught me enough lessons -- good, bad and ugly. It’s that white screen that given me name and fame. Which is why I respect that screen over anything else. I would’ve been nothing without it,” says the artiste, who is keen to be known as a responsible and honest filmmaker.
”I want to take charge of my children’s-- Manoranjan and Vikram’s career, once I complete my directorial, Rajendra Ponnappa. Right now, I’m letting them figure things out themselves and allowing them to learn their lessons. If I involve myself now, they might later not turn out to be fully responsible. I want them to take the hits and flops that will come their way in their stride. But, at the same time, I definitely want to mould their careers. I’m with them whenever they need me.”
With two-and-half hours of entertainment, he aims to ‘wake up the audience’ with impactful messages. “That’s an additional responsibility that I have taken up. My films are not just about making money,” he adds.
Ups and downs are a part of life, and Ravichandran has had his fair share of them. “God has favoured me many times, but has also given me some tough times. I’ve taken them both with a positive attitude. I believe that if he’s put me through it something, then he is only testing my ability,” he says.
Ravichandran is an all-rounder when it comes to films, and refuses to choose one department or aspect over the other. “I’ve always liked working in every department of the film industry -- writing, directing, producing, music. In the beginning, I wasn’t very familiar with Kannada slang, but over the years, my language has improved and so has my writing. I consider every stage as a learning process,” he says, adding, “But acting has given me my bread and butter. When I was in financial trouble, acting saved me. Even though I’ve had my shares of issues while acting, I cannot forget that the cash inflow from those assignments have helped in my directorial projects,” he signs off.