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My arrogance is confidence: Radha Ravi

Suddenly, Radha Ravi is everywhere. He’s been around for ages in films — from 1976, to be precise — but the son of M.R. Radha is now being sought after for interesting character roles. He’s working with young filmmakers, and enjoying every moment of it. Excerpts from an exclusive hour-long chat:

After more than 300 films and 42 years in the industry, you’ve almost got a now a new lease of life with thanks to strong roles in Irudhi Suttru and Jil Jung Juk. How’s it working with new-age filmmakers and youngsters?

I love the new brand of directors; they’re coming up with such interesting scripts. At one end of the spectrum, you have boys with Madurai-based stories, and then, at the other, you have superb storytelling in films set in Chennai. Personally, Aranmanai 2 was one of the highlights in recent times. And, both Irudhi Suttru and Jil Jung Juk were great experiences.



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Two of the films you mention have relatively new directors; Sudha has done one Tamil film before and Deeraj is a freshera debutant…

Deeraj is a chinna pulla; I couldn’t even call him ‘sir’, as he’s my son’s age. Sudha, having studied under Mani Ratnam, is a thorough professional. The team called me for rehearsals —almost a first in my 42-year career. The only time I did that was during my first Kannada film; that too, because I didn’t know the language.

Jil Jung Juk had you in a role that required you to look a little different…

I told my makeup man to take inspiration from South African cricketer Hashim Amla for that specific role.

So, you like donning various ‘get-ups’ for your films?

Absolutely. I don’t like it when filmmakers say — ‘Just come like this, sir.’ I like to experiment with my makeup. I wish more filmmakers let me do that.

You’ve held a lot of designations official positions in trade bodies; looking back, how do you see that phase?

See, my father (M.R. Radha) did not hold any designations; I got into such organisations due to certain situations. Sometimes, I feel I’ve wasted too much time and energy in the various associations I’ve been with for about 29 years. Even recently, because some people egged me, I stood for the Writers Association’s elections and won. I’m present in the scene, yes, but I wish to step back a bit, as it consumes my energy.

Things have changed drastically over the last few decades, yet but you continue to do important character roles...

For me, the character I play is most important. In one film, I called the hero — a leading star — ‘dei’, because my character was supposed to be like that. I learnt this from Senthamarai annan, who never gave away what his character needed.

You speak your mind quite frequentlyshoot off your mouth quite frequently...

I do… and I’ve lost many films due to that. All these years, people have spoken good and bad things about me, but I always end up being discussed.

You are often described as ‘arrogant’. How do you react to that?

In my book, thimiru (arrogance) is nothing but thannambikkai (confidence).

Your speeches at That is reflected in all your speeches, which you make at audio launches and film events, especially your way with words, sometimes peppered with expletives, face a mixed reaction…

It’s difficult to react when people bring that up, as if it’s the only thing that matters. I’ve been doing so many other things in life. When someone praises me for some speech uploaded on YouTube, I politely tell them I’ve been acting for many years.

Some people say you’re a difficult person to deal with, because of the conditions you lay down even before shooting kickstarts…

Call me a white elephant… that’s how I am with respect to certain things. For me, timing and punctuality are important. I’m most comfortable with my team of four — makeup man, driver, etc — and would like them to be with me. And, if shooting is outside the city, I insist on travelling in my car. These are things I’ve followed for long, and will continue to.

You’re known to ace villainous and comic roles, be a villain and comedy artist, but you’ve experimented as well in recent times…

Actually, I might have been the cause for Rajinikanth’s Lingaa’s dismal outing at the box office; I have always been the baddie in his films, but I played a positive role in that film! I had a tough time because I was not used to it. Pisasu was challenging too; director Mysskin tapped my acting skills well.

Are you fond of reading? Do you read often?

I’m interested in reading, but, of late, I’ve developed a problem in my left eye and cannot indulge myself much. I love reading about great people’s lives. I read a book on the assassination of Gandhi that featured portions about what Godse had said during those times. I like going through books on Mandela’s life and the struggle he went through.

Ten years from now, how do you see yourself? A little sober? think you’ll turn out? Would you have sobered down a bit?

I’ll be 73 then, and I’ll have the same thimiru and thenavattu (laughs). I might be bogged down a bit due to health issues. I’m quite settled on the family front, and still want to be active, so I will continue working. I never want to be idle. I’d like to be a consultant in the film line. I’d like to produce too. I’d like to set up a studio with a great ambience. Also, I’d like to take up a few theatres and run them.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 7:57:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/radha-ravi-looks-back-at-his-life-in-films/article8300239.ece

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