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How veteran Malayalam actor Raghavan came to be a part of Telugu film ‘Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya’

Satyadev and Raghavan in a scene from the film

Satyadev and Raghavan in a scene from the film   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“I was surprised when director Venkatesh Maha’s team called and asked me to act in a Telugu film,” says 78-year-old Raghavan, who is now familiar to those who’ve watched Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya (UMUR), streaming on Netflix. Raghavan essayed a brief but noteworthy part as Satyadev’s father Manohar Rao, who, at a crucial juncture, guides his son on what goes into capturing good photographs.

Raghavan is the father of late Malayalam actor Jishnu and has acted in more than 100 Malayalam films: “I must have done 160 films, of which around 30 never released. There was a brief period when cinema was transitioning from black and white to colour. Distributors weren’t keen on black and white films because everyone wanted to see colour,” he says, in a telephonic conversation from Trivandrum.

He was visiting his daughter in Visakhapatnam when he got the call for UMUR. When Venkatesh Maha and producer Praveena, who were then in Araku valley, came to visit him, Raghavan surprised them by speaking in Telugu. He had looked up YouTube videos and learnt a few lines. During pre-release interviews, Venkatesh and Satyadev lauded the veteran actor and commented that he was among the most active people on set.

Raghavan laughs off the compliment and says, “They told me how they were planning to remake Maheshinte Prathikaram (Malayalam; 2016). I agreed, though I am not familiar with Telugu. I’ve done a few Kannada films though.”

While filming in Araku, he struck an easy rapport with cinematographer Appu Prabhakar who hails from Kerala, and remembers how an assistant director helped by writing his Telugu dialogues in Malayalam. “That made it easy for me. Earlier I had requested that my lines be given to me in Devanagari script than English, so that I get the pronunciation correct. I learnt my lines byheart,” says the actor. He cherishes the memories of the shoot and adds: “It was a wonderful team and they took fantastic care of me.”

Raghavan in a scene from the film

Raghavan in a scene from the film   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Raghavan is an alumni of National School of Drama. Completing his course in 1968, he set out to be a director. But he got an acting offer for a Malayalam film and things took a different turn: “I kept getting acting offers. I acted as a hero, second hero, and later wrote and directed short films. I have also acted with heroines who were popular in Telugu cinema at that time — Jayasudha, Sarada and Sridevi,” he says.

Before NSD, he was a student of Gandhigram Rural Institute in Madurai. Speaking fluent Tamil, he recalls narrowly missing acting offers from Tamil cinema, “I was approached in 1969 for a film with Shivaji Ganesan and KR Vijaya, and then again for Antha Ezhu Naatkal (1981). I was busy with other films and couldn’t take them up.”

As COVID-19 keeps older actors away from film sets, Raghavan muses, “My well wishers tell me not to venture out now; the situation is bad. My family members have watched Uma Maheshwara… and are liking the film.”

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2020 6:20:45 PM |

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