The stupendous success of Ramesh's debut venture Rama Shama Bhama has doubled his star value. He's now enthused to take on more projects

You're always sceptical and even reluctant to watch when a classic comedy is remade. Our comedies are mostly verbose and the distinct flavour of the original dialogues is lost in translation. Prime examples are Gol Maal and Kalyana Raman which were disasters in Kannada. Rama Shama Bhama is a rare exception. It's a stress buster. You swallow your frustration at not being able to find fault and end up applauding the tiny, deft original touches.The way to Abbiah Naidu studios is treacherous. Ramesh is shooting for Ekadantha on a set that could best be termed as tacky. Sachin, the director looks not a day older than he did in Akhiyon Ke Jharokon Se. Vishnuvardhan is the other star in this film. After a few shots are swiftly canned it's tiffin break. The interesting spread ranges from chaat to chow chow bath.Ramesh doesn't like it when I use the term fixture to describe his presence in most Vishnu starrers but as usual it's not visible on his face. "It's thanks to the comfort level that I share with him. I have politely refused whenever I felt I didn't have a substantial role." You conveniently shift the topic to Rama Shama Bhama and he beams. "Kamal advised me that my first film as director should be a hit and it didn't matter whether the film was original or a remake. Now after the success he feels I possess the style to make a bilingual in Hindi and Kannada."Ramesh is the proud product of the Balachander school of acting which has produced talents as varied as Kamal Hassan and Rajnikant. Ramesh was recently in Chennai where Prakash Raj organised a bash to honour his Guru. "It was an emotional experience where everyone spoke from the heart, not from prepared notes," says Ramesh. It's not easy for an actor without an image to last as long as Ramesh and the main reason could be his ability to recognise his limitations. "The sooner you do it in your career, the better," he says. "Do you know that my star value has doubled after Rama Shama Bhama? It's strange but true." Now that should put him in a quandary. "There is no dilemma. I am doing a very interesting Telugu film with Simran. Then there are ideas swirling in my mind about my next effort as a director. Of course, my producers want another remake but I'm excited about a subject about four people in a locality like Chamrajpet. Let's see," he sighs.Enough of pleasant stuff. You try to check out the discord (if any at all) between him and Nagathihalli Chandrashekar. You suggest that he must be cursing himself for narrating the story idea of Amruthadhaare to Nagathihalli. " Not at all," he says vehemently, disappointing you. "I was planning to direct that subject but I have no regrets. I was paid for the story. His Hoo Male was also my story idea." Is it any wonder that you don't see his name screaming from the tabloid covers?S. SHIVA KUMAR