‘Cinema is just business’

Before answering the first question, K. S. Ravikumar mentions that he isn’t altogether comfortable speaking in English. But he smiles and continues in English, “ Mudinja Ivana Pudi has nothing to do with Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can.” He admits there isn’t much riding on the film for him, and believes in leaving “everything to fate. The swing scene in Padaiyappa is thought to be legendary today. But only I know that it wasn’t conceived so in the script. It all just fell into place on the sets.” The scene, he reveals, was inspired by an incident in Ramayana that has Hanuman fashioning a seat for himself using his tail after being insulted at Ravana’s palace. Ravikumar has always been happy to take stories from other people. “Even my first film, Puriyaadha Pudhir, was a remake.”

He believes in writing stories to suit heroes. “That’s how I have made successful films like Muthu, Thenali, Padaiyappa, Villain, Varalaaru and Avvai Shanmughi. The I cannot give a Kamal story to Rajini or vice-versa.” Mudinja Ivana Pudi was written to do justice to Sudeep’s image—in his case, images: that of a superstar in Kannada cinema, and a villain in Tamil cinema. But Ravikumar admits that there are filmmakers, these days, who are attempting to break the image of certain heroes. He denies he’s talking about Kabali, a film he wasn’t particularly delighted with. “It was neither a Rajinikanth film nor a Ranjith film. Sure, it was a good don film, but a film like Mullum Malarum did more to break the image of Rajini. I loved Rajini’s performance though.”

Mudinja Ivana Pudi was supposed to have been made three years ago , but “I was approached for Lingaa, and Sudeep and the producer were kind enough to wait till the film was made.” Lingaa, incidentally, was aired on Tamil television last week, and “lots of people called to tell me that they really liked the film.” But Ravikumar was far from happy. “Where were these people when the film was released? I guess sometimes, it takes a while before a film can get appreciated.” He says Panchathanthiram suffered the same fate too. Does he believe Lingaa was ahead of its time? “Sure, but I won’t compare it to Panchathanthiram.”

Mudinja Ivana Pudi is Ravikumar’s first-ever bilingual (“Sudeep insisted that we make it a bilingual, as I’m a popular Tamil director”), and his first film in Kannada. Parallels can be drawn to director P. Vasu, who after making the disastrous Kuselan with Rajinikanth, went to Kannada cinema to prove himself again. “I don’t need to prove myself after all these years. I don’t intend to sound arrogant, but in the last 26 years, I’ve never had to approach any actor to do a film. I’ve always been busy; there was a time I was making a film every three months, and I had no time to react to the success and failure of my films.” While technology has improved many aspects of filmmaking, Ravikumar says it has made the process slower. “If we were mixing eight tracks back then, we now have 124 tracks. It’s not possible for a director to make four films a year any more.”

Mudinja Ivana Pudi will be a typical Ravikumar film, he says. “Like a kalyana saapaadu. There will be a bit of everything for everybody. People will come out of the theatres feeling entertained.” He says it’s important not to depress people, “as they do in television serials”, if films are to be successful, which he frankly admits is the reason he’s making films. “My family is into business; I am in the movie business. Besides making money for my producer, if I’m able to tell a decent story and make a name for myself, why not?” Ravikumarhas no qualms admitting that his peak period as a director is over. “I leave it to fate to decide if I’m meant to have another shot at the top.”

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 3:23:12 AM |

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