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His father’s SON

Padmaraj Ratheesh  

Those watching the recently released Mammootty-starrer Fireman saw a face that looks startlingly similar to one from the past. That light-eyed face everybody who watched Malayalam films of the 80s and 90s would remember, Ratheesh, who immortalised many characters on reel.

Twelve years after the actor’s demise, one of his sons, Padmaraj Ratheesh, sets out in his father’s footsteps. A week-old in the film industry, he is grateful for the serendipitous break.

“I texted Mammookka (Mammootty) saying that I was keen on acting and he assured me his help,” says Padmaraj over phone from Thiruvananthapuram where he is based. A week later, a film magazine featured his sister, Parvathy, who will also soon make her acting debut. A small write-up on Padmaraj, with a photo, appeared as part of the article. The makers of the film, at the time, were looking for an actor to essay the villain in the film.

The producer, Milan Jaleel’s son saw Padmaraj’s photo. The rest is the story of Padmaraj’s acting debut.

The last few months have been bitter-sweet for Padmaraj. He lost his mother, Diana, recently. But she passed away with the knowledge that he was on his way to doing what he had always wanted to do. “I have always wanted to act. Our mother did everything for us when our father passed away. She supported our dreams but wanted me and my siblings to study and be qualified for jobs. And then chase film dreams.” Apart from his older sister Parvathy, he has two younger siblings – a sister and a brother. The role took a while coming, but he says he knew there would be a wait and was prepared. “Everything happened at the right time,” he says a tad philosophically.

A Bachelor of Business Management degree holder, he worked in Coimbatore for a couple of years before he quit to look after his ailing mother and moved to Thiruvananthapuram. Growing up in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore, he and his siblings did not have much of a connection with the film industry except for a few of his father’s friends.

A debut with a negative role may not be what those with film dreams aspire for but he is excited about the role. It is as if he is literally following in his father’s trail, since Ratheesh has immortalised many a villain on screen. The biggest thrill for him is making his debut in a film which stars Mammootty. That apart, he says, “It is a very good movie and good role, an important character in the film.”

When his mother heard that Padmaraj would be acting alongside Mammootty, she seems to have told him she wasn’t worried about him and that he was in good hands. “I was extremely nervous, but Mammookka helped me through it. He told me not be nervous and he made me extremely comfortable which was awesome.” He is also all praise for the director, Deepu Karunakaran.

Amid all the hype he is pragmatic enough to know that he has a long way to go. “I’ll take it slowly, each day as it comes.” His next film is also a Mammootty-starrer Acha Din directed by G. Marthandan.

The film industry, it is said, has a notoriously short memory. Padmaraj disagrees. He was met with love and affection on the sets and from people who worked with his father. “People working in various departments of film making had stories to tell and memories of my father to share. I was happy and proud when they told me how my father was a good human being.” This legacy that his father has left behind he wants to take “to the next level as we see it as responsibility and not do anything to mar his reputation.”

With no previous acting experience, he is glad how things have panned. On a lighter note, life has changed this past week. He is being recognised. “I step out a lot and people look puzzled when they see me…they have that look, ‘is it him?’”

One hopes that the fickle gods of cinema favour this young actor bent on turning negatives to positives.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 6:22:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/his-fathers-son/article6948311.ece

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