Director Ravi on what proved to be the trigger for making Ennadhaan Paesuvadho, his upcoming film on girl child trafficking

Breaking away from clichés is quite a challenge in an industry that is formula-ridden. Bala is one who does it time and again. And his associate Ravi could be another, going by the subject of his second film, Ennadhaan Paesuvadho that deals with girl child trafficking, believed to be a reality in the remote, poverty-stricken villages of Bihar. He’s elated that EP has been deemed fit for tax exemption. “‘Got the news last evening. ‘Surely it’s not just the theme but the dignified handling of it also. Even a slight swerve could have made it a crude exercise. You have a beautiful, vulnerable-looking heroine, but we find no exploitation in treatment,’ veterans, who watched the film, have told me. The ovation at the end of each private show has given me the confidence that the film will do well.” Ravi is happy. If ‘U’ certification is a plus, tax exemption is a bonus indeed!

The inspiration for EP was from a news item on TV, which spoke of a baby girl being sold for Rs. 21! It triggered disturbing thoughts of the fate of the child and took Ravi all the way to Bihar. “It was probably also because I have a daughter, I could empathise with the parents driven to take such an extreme step. I visited those places to get a first-hand account of the poverty and the prevailing malady there,” says Ravi. “And the best part is I’m neither proficient in Hindi nor do I know the demography of the place.” He spent a lot of time in researching for the project. “Nearly 50 per cent of the commercial sex workers found in roadside brothels are from Bihar,” he says.

When Ravi reached Bihar, he met a couple who had just sold off their daughter. Their agony was terribly disconcerting.

Bala factor

“Bala was persuading me to start off on my own. We were roommates and friends ever since we landed in Chennai. He was with Balu Mahendra and I was a dialogue assistant with Liyakath Ali Khan. When he began Sethu, I joined him professionally too.”

Has Bala watched EP? “Not yet, he will soon.”

Ravi’s launch was with the Vignesh-starrer, Aacharya. The film was a dud at the BO. But he hopes to bounce back with Ennadhaan Paesuvadho. “Publicity is imperative for success, and we plan to go for it in a big way before the release.”

EP does not have sexual overtones. Focussing on the problem and the psyche of those people is more important. At the same time, it has all the commercial ingredients you would wish to see in a film — song, dance, action and sentiment.”

With a powerful storyline to bolster the film, people advised Ravi to go with a popular cast. But Ravi thought otherwise. So he has plumped for fresh faces — almost all the actors are new. He believes the impact will be more this way.

Heroine Daksha Nagarkar, Miss. Hyderabad 2011, plays a Bihari girl. The story of EP revolves around a group of school boys and a girl. The boys realise that all is not well with their friend, but are unable to comprehend the enormity of her problem. The film doesn’t have a regular hero. All the boys play important characters. Vijay Ram has done a few short films, Vignesh was first seen in Bala’s Avan Ivan and Chinnasamy is the smart boy who impressed viewers in Vazhakku Enn 18/9. Then you have Roshan and Dass. “But I have brought in some really good character actors too — Sridhar, who plays an upright inspector, is a seasoned Kannada actor and has been Mani Ratnam’s assistant for over a decade, Ralapalli is another talent who has worked in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil movies for 30 years and Sampath is a familiar face in Tamil cinema.” Besides, Ravi has used several Bhojpuri and Varanasi theatre artistes.

Technically, however, Ravi has gone in for a well-known crew. Imman’s music score, Suresh Urs’s editing, Super Subbarayan’s stunt choreography and Ratnavelu’s assistant A.S. Senthil Kumar’s cinematography should be notable value additions.

“The accent is on pure friendship and thought-provoking realities. These will offer a different and healthy experience for the young and old,” assures Ravi.

Let’s wait and watch.