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`It's humour that moves the world'

Looks matter in love marriages - Bosskey

A firm, no frills person, Ravi K. Chandran wears his attitude right. That despite scalding red-hot in filmdom. He's not only the country's highly paid, but also the highly praised cinematographer in recent times. With films such as "Kandukondain Kandukondain," "Boys," "Kannathil Muthamittal" and "Dil Chahta Hai," his dossier reads like a wish list. He has shot 450 advertisements too, including the 8 p.m. Whiskey (remember the soldiers sharing a peg at the LoC), Lux featuring Aishwarya Rai and Hutch's famous boy-dog combo in pristine white. Just back in Chennai after winding up work for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's star-spangled "Black," Ravi takes a detour from the shosha of showbiz. And guess who's there to share the spotlight with him. It's Bosskey, the self-styled satirist who stirred the sedate world of television sitcoms. "Hari Giri Assembly" and now "Jujubee"... he draws viewers like iron filings to a magnet. Criticism has left him unfazed, for over the years he has developed a Teflon coating — so nothing really sticks on him — not even accolades.

So what's common between Ravi and Bosskey, you might ask. Well... it's that rare bonding that bald men strike with each other. As they chatter away into the afternoon with Chennai's jagged skyline forming the backdrop in the VIP lounge of The Park Sheraton, you realise that beneath the bald pates are shrewd brains ticking away...

The red light in the tape recorder comes on and T. Krithika

Reddy learns that this Take Two is as much fun as barbed wire.

Ravi: So Bosskey, should we call ourselves Bruce Willis, Yul Brynner or Telly Savalas...

(The two reel out names of clean pate personalities and burst out laughing) To me, baldness, like the Adam's Apple, is a symbol of male...

Bosskey: Athan maela irukku (punning on the word male).

Ravi: (In splits) How come they tolerate you at home?

Bosskey: Sorry, there's a correction. Your question must be `How come they tolerate you on the streets.' Because that's where I spend most of my time. I draw heavily from real life for my programmes. What you see is a re-mix of reality. Why did you avoid participating in "Hari Giri Assembly?"

Ravi: That's because you people simply ripped apart the guests. No, just joking. Our timings didn't click.

Bosskey: Nowadays when I call celebrities, they change their voice and answer the phone. I'm politely told the person I'm looking for is not available.

Ravi: That's because people take criticism too personally. If you're sportive, then tension automatically eases. I remember a film awards function. Rakesh Roshan was invited to the stage for an award. The compere who introduced him said, `In India he is known as Rakesh Roshan. In Hollywood he is known as Steven Spielberg' implying that the former's film was a remake of one of the latter's works. Rakesh joined the audience in the hearty laugh. That should be the spirit.

Changes in filmmaking

Bosskey: Tell me, has film making changed after technicians and stars started peering into the monitors to correct the shots? Earlier, you had to wait for the prints to see how a shot had worked...

Ravi: According to me, this system of "monitoring" the scenes has only spoilt filmmaking. Good films are those that come with human error. The more you perfect the shots, they become plastic. When something is 100 per cent perfect, it looks artificial. Now, though you can edit the sequences effectively with the hard disc, that instinctive, spontaneous quality about storytelling is lost.

Bosskey: You mean to say the monitor is like the third umpire in cricket. As long as umpires made mistakes, the game was fun. Third umpires have made cricket boring. What about high definition cameras? Are they going to revolutionise film making in the years to come? PC tried it in "Vaanam Vasapadum"...

Ravi: Technological changes will gradually usher in change. There's no stopping it. Who thought television will invade our homes and our lives... (Jocularly adds) Look, it has even made you so popular...

Bosskey: Why me? Even appalams are enjoying their share of popularity! But how come sir, chunks of today's films are dark? Sometimes, the brightness is so overpowering that you regret you left your sunglasses behind.

Ravi: In most cases, the fault doesn't lie in the way the film has been shot, but in the way it's projected in theatres. In India, each theatre has a different projection quality. So prints have to be adjusted accordingly.

Bosskey: But then, it's the cinematographer who is blamed...

Ravi: To the public, it's the story that matters. Cinematography is secondary. And as far as critics are concerned, there is this standard line about us, "so and so's cinematography is commendable." It's not critical. In some cases, even for a film like "Dil Chahta Hai", which proved to be a benchmark film for its slickness, the cinematography went unmentioned!

Bosskey: Oh, I remember the camerawork for "Digu Digu... " in "Boys." How did you freeze the frames?

Ravi: Those were time slices. It was an Australian location. We worked with 60 cameras set at 180 degrees. It involved meticulous coordination.

Bosskey: Do you think camerawork goes unnoticed?

Ravi: The credit goes to P. C. Sriram for making the public sit up and take notice of cinematography. Even his critics tried to imitate him on the sly.

Bosskey: Have stars blamed camerawork if they aren't appealing on the big screen?

Make-up, yet to evolve

Ravi: No, it's the makeup man who will have to face the wrath. Make-up in our country is yet to evolve. Sometimes, images look so chalky. My wife did not want to keep our wedding snaps because she looked so caked-up.

Bosskey: Your's was a love marriage. Looks matter in love marriages...

Ravi: Then I wouldn't have got married. (Ha, ha, ha... ) Ours was like a reel romance. I fell in love - from behind the camera at a friend's wedding! Ok, Bosskey, you were telling me about your involvement in theatre. Why is Tamil theatre mostly comedy-driven? Marathi theatre is so powerful. Hard issues are taken up.

Bosskey: Here there are issues within the family. So when people come out, they want light stuff. And moreover, there is this serial-o-mania, the new disease. Symptom of serial-o-mania is the husband losing weight.

Ravi: So true, this serial addiction. There was a time when my wife said she never liked to be disturbed during particular hours in the evening. It's sad, children are losing touch with reading. Even filmmakers are going in for DVDs instead of books. To me, the best directors are those who are avid readers and those with a reservoir of experience.

Ok, tell me, what's this name Bosskey about?

Bosskey: That's because of all the funny things I did even as a child. I couldn't speak English for nuts. Once, when the teacher asked me whether I came to school cycling or walking, I replied, "Busing." In another instance, when I came across three teachers in the school corridor, I was in a dilemma about how to wish them. I simply said "Good morning miss-es." They were furious. But what is this Ravi K. Chandran about?

Ravi: Ravi is a very common name. So I thought Ravi K. Chandran sounded different. On the sets of "Kandukondain Kandukondain," there was Pandya Ravi, Chinna Ravi, Kulla Ravi and Focus Ravi in the camera unit. People thought Ravi was our code!

Coming back to your tele shows, how do you put up with criticism?

Bosskey: "Hari Giri" taught me many lessons. The first was to be unfazed in the face of criticism. People get too personal and sensitive when satires are based on them. It seldom happens with those established in their respective fields. I don't read much, nor do I watch films. I watch people around me, their expressions, gestures... at the traffic signal, on escalators or even street corners. Another thing is that I have to be ready with repartee. Because people expect that from me.

Ravi: It's amazing you've done 15,000 jokes so far for a magazine. While shooting, we also try to make the atmosphere as light as possible. When work is fun, you enjoy it doubly.

Once, there was this villain actor called Bob, who had to drop a car mid-sea from a helicopter. The director, who wasn't fluent in English showed Bob a yellow piece of cloth and said, `Bob, I drop, you drop.' Everything was ready for the shot. Bob's helicopter was circling the sea. Suddenly, there was a problem with the camera. The frustrated director flung the yellow cloth in disgust. And guess what, Bob dropped the car! The director was furious, Bob was cool. He said, `Sir, you drop, I drop.' All of us were in splits. It's such humour that moves the world.

Bosskey: Yes, it's my wish that people devote at least five minutes to humour every day.

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