Cinema

After Thani Oruvan

Jayam Ravi plays boxer in Bhooloham.  

Like A.D. is indicative of time since the birth of Jesus Christ, Jayam Ravi’s film career could now well be called A.T. — After Thani Oruvan. He has a remarkable line-up of films for 2016. He’s doing a zombie film with Shakti Soundar Rajan (the director of Naaygal Jaakirathai), he’s signed films with Suseenthiran and A. L. Vijay, and he’s also in talks with Gautham Menon, which according to him, “should be finalised soon.” So brightly are the stars shining in his sky that even his long-delayed film, Bhooloham, which was shot three years ago, is releasing this week. But Ravi is a proud man, and won’t quite owe it all to Thani Oruvan’s success. “Gautham Menon approached me for a film years ago, but I couldn’t do it as I was working on Ameer’s Aadhi Bhagavan. A. L. Vijay is like a member of my family, and has always wanted to work with me. Suseenthiran was director Ezhil’s assistant, when I did Deepavali. So, even though a part of me agrees that all this has come after Thani Oruvan, I won’t quite admit it.”

He doesn’t want to talk about the reason for Bhooloham’s delay, and agrees that it is perhaps releasing now, in a bid to cash in on his rise in popularity after Thani Oruvan.

Ravi is convinced that Bhooloham, despite its delay, retains its relevance. “It’s a sports subject (boxing), and such films never go out of trend.” Another boxing film of his, M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi, was telecast earlier this week on TV, and he received a dozen phone calls appreciating his performance. “Luckily, Bhooloham is of a similar genre, and is just about two hours long-like most Tamil films today are.”

There’s more than one Western artist involved in its making. Australian actor Nathan Jones (recently seen as a baddie in Mad Max: Fury Road), plays the villain in the film. Hollywood fight choreographer, Larnell Stovall, has done the fight sequences. “He’s done films like Fast and Furious, and Green Lantern,” says Ravi. “He’s also helping Salman Khan become fitter for his upcoming Sultan, in which he plays a wrestler.” In a way, he’s happy Bhooloham’s releasing now. “It would have been ahead of its time if it had released back then.”

Ravi has been a part of many blockbusters, but isn’t entirely satisfied with his filmography. A “media student”, he hopes that some day he can make the kind of film he has envisioned. His innate pride, which surfaces again, won’t let him criticise his films — the masala films, in particular — for too long, and so, he quickly ends up jumping to their defence. “There’s an audience for such films; we have to admit it. Such films make me a familiar face, and are a big reason why I’m able to do a film like Thani Oruvan. A new hero couldn’t have made it work; the people wouldn’t have listened to him.” Despite his fame, he isn’t quite the star he wants to be. He, almost shyly, replies in the affirmative when I ask him if he’s irked that viewers don’t quite break into applause when his name flashes on screen. “I think every actor wants that. And I’m confident that I’m a pretty good one.” But he won’t stoop to looking at the camera and bellowing punch lines. “I decided right at the start that I would never do such scenes.”

The conversation veers to the zombie film he’s doing with Shakti Soundar Rajan, and his eyes immediately light up. “I’m glad we are the first to bring the genre to Tamil cinema.” However, the film won’t quite be like Walking Dead, he says. “It’s more about a disease outbreak; like a medical sci-fi thriller.” There are plenty of shots of grotesque, undead people walking the streets in the film, and Ravi, ever the playful dad, brought his son to the sets to scare him. “It worked!”

He isn’t quite sure when he will work with his brother, director Mohan Raja, again, and understands that both of them need to work with other people in the industry too. He’s confident though that eventually they’ll unite again. “And it’ll be like coming home after a hard day at work.” For now, he realises that much like vacations, being as occupied with work is a luxury worth savouring too.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:40:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/after-thani-oruvan/article8025392.ece

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