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In a brand new role

Actor Raveendran. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

One often wonders if Raveendran (popular as Ravindhar in Tamil films) is a prisoner of his bad man and disco -dancer image. There has been a tendency to judge him by his film persona when Raveendran is quite a different person sans make up. He is one of the very few in the industry who unfailingly participates in major film festivals in the country and abroad, has a huge archive of the best in world cinema, a library stocked with books and journals that trace the history, growth, and technical development of cinema.

Now, Raveendran has turned storyteller with Sathyan Anthikad’s Ennum Eppozhum. “Story-telling is part of the visual literacy programme that I conduct. Moreover, I have formulated a crash course for students of film studies for which I create stories as examples. I have narrated some of my stories to a few colleagues such as Mohanlal and Prithviraj, and many of my friends. But I never took it seriously. Of course, I have found some elements from my stories in some films. I would like to believe it was coincidental,” says Raveendran with a laugh.

For Ennum Eppozhum the brief was clear. It had to be a story for Mohanlal and Manju Warrier, two fully-rounded characters around whom the film would revolve; something that would satisfy the stars and their fans. “In my story the main characters follow a simple, straight, non-dramatic track. All the characters, the drama and incidents are brought into this track. Vineeth N. Pillai and Advocate Deepa are based on people I know and about whom I have read. I have adopted an open ending, which means both the characters have so much more to say.”

After a sensational debut in the Tamil film Oru Thalai Ragam, and many heady years in cinema that included films with legendary filmmakers, Raveendran surprisingly decided to take a sabbatical after the hugely successful Pappayude Swantham Appoos. This was when he began a serious study of world cinema and embarked on cinema-related initiatives and projects.

“Films are my first love, but at this stage of my career I realise there is so much more I can do than just acting. For cinema to survive, cinema and visual culture need to be inculcated in young minds. For serious students of cinema too there is need for a comprehensive visual literacy study. Along with screening films on campuses I have also incorporated seminars and workshops on various aspects of filmmaking. I travelled the State, visited various campuses with this unique festival format, which I presume was well-received.”

Raveendran’s pet project shows how visuals should be used and understood. “We are surrounded by images, whether photographs, videos or films. My project is on how to read an image and use it based on Elements and Principles. The package that I have created has over 700 video classes from Greek to modern literature, on analysis, structure, from the myth study of Joseph Campbell to the theories of folklorist Vladimir Propp in a formatted structure. Creating this helped me to learn a lot on writing stories and scripts for films among other things.”

At the peak of his career as actor, Raveendran ventured into filmmaking. “That was a phase when I was deeply interested in political and experimental films. Perhaps this was the residual effect of my film institute days when I met many offbeat directors. I directed two films, one with the Draupadi Amman Temple in Kancheepuram as the backdrop and using Therukoothu in which LTTE leaders and even Gaddhar voiced their views and the other titled Voice of Silence, which was on the Tibetan issue. Both were not screened due to protests. I did documentaries and short films for Doordarshan, assisted K. Balachander ( Bali Umar Ko Salaam) and noted cinematographer Soumendu Roy in the award-winning film Kann Sivanthaal Mann Sivakkum. I acted in both these film too. All these experiences enabled me to evolve.”

Raveendran has around 14 stories ready in different genres. “I’m fortunate that my first story has been well-received. Director Joshiy has accepted one of my stories and hopefully the film will come out this year itself. Two other directors, whom I cannot name now, have also evinced an interest in my stories. As an actor I’ll be doing Balachandra Menon’s new film which begins in May.”

In between all this Raveendran is planning the second edition of the Malayalam short film festival he launched in Kochi last year. “The first edition, with Mohanlal as chairman, went off very well with over 300 films screened, lectures and seminars. My elder son Bibin, who is an assistant to Aashiq Abu, was in charge of the event. We introduced video wall projection and a group of film students was actively involved in the running of the festival. I have begun work on the second edition.”

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 5:03:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/in-a-brand-new-role-actor-raveendran-in-ennum-eppozhum/article7065214.ece

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