FRIDAY REVIEW

The road to "Jayam" and beyond

"Jayam"

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

The road to "Jayam" and beyond

WHEN "KADHAL KONDAIN" and its hero Dhanush began taking the cinema world by storm, very few films could withstand the onslaught — one such was film editor Mohan's "Jayam" — the film that had Mohan's son M. Ravi making his debut.

Ravi and Dhanush were on a near equal footing. While Dhanush proved that looks matter little as long as you are able to perform well, Ravi with his impressive height and pleasing countenance showed that he is an actor with potential. Both made their entry with home productions. The two have had their own brothers directing them. Ravi's second film will also be directed by brother Raja while Dhanush's second film had his brother Selvaraghavan as the auteur. But even as the latter seems to be signing on the dotted line very often, accepting assignments on a regular basis, Ravi has preferred to go slow. He has committed himself to only one project — again a home production. When you meet him in person he tells you why ...

The lull after "Jayam" ...

The poser does not perturb him. "My first release, "Jayam", is a commercial success in every way and is still going strong in many of the towns. The fame I have got from it has to be maintained and a lot depends on my second film," says Ravi. After "Jayam" he was inundated with offers ... not only Tamil but also Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu. "Only Kannada films didn't come my way," he smiles. "But I was not too keen. We listened to more than 50 subjects, but all were the soft, romantic hero type of roles... nothing new. Meanwhile my

brother Raja and dad, came up with a nice subject, so I am going ahead with it ... "

So home productions get priority ...

"Not at all. It's just that the projects have to be worthwhile. I am very keen to work for other banners. And when the right opportunity knocks, I'll surely take it ... "

The first offer — a cakewalk ...

"It surely was ... my dad is a seasoned film technician and a producer of Telugu films for a long time now. In Tamil, his only production was "Oru Thottil Sabadham", starring Sita and Ramki in the lead. After that, it has been only Telugu, till he launched me in "Jayam". The first chance came on a platter all right, but to sustain the name that "Jayam" has got me is not going to be an easy task."

How it all began ...

"Having lived in a filmi atmosphere throughout my life, even when I was in school I had decided to become an actor. But father advised me to get into cinema after my graduation. So I did my degree in visual communication." Ravi is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer — Nalini Balakrishnan is his guru and he had his arangetram while in school. After schooling in Jawahar Vidyalaya and graduating from Loyola College, Chennai, Ravi enrolled with the Kishore Namit Kapur acting institute in Mumbai, for a formal, short-term training in histrionics. And from there he headed straight for the Chennai shoot of "Jayam". Getting a break has been that easy for Ravi.

The "Jayam" experience ...

A family affair with father as producer, brother as director and himself as hero — "It was a comfortable atmosphere, no doubt, yet a very professional one. So no concessions were made and neither did I expect any. The film was shot completely in and around Pollachi, Ulundurpet and Shencottah. The group dance sequence atop a moving train was quite risky. There were 100 of us dancing on top of the train... every time we jumped high for a dance movement we were not sure at which spot we would land. My father was standing down with his hands clasped in prayer. But my brother felt that it had to be done. In the romantic song sequence I had this tight iron rope round my waist. It bit into my skin ... the marks remain even now, but I went and ahead and did it. No compromises were made at any point... "

Defending the lengthy climax ...

"Jayam"s climax could definitely have been crisper. " The Telugu version directed by Teja had a five-minute song sequence in the climax. We avoided it. (Thank God!) But otherwise we felt we needed that length to bring about a proper end," says Ravi.

Jayam's success ...

"The success or failure of a film can be known on the very evening of its release, my father always says. He was sure "Jayam" would do well. I went to Udayam theatre on the first day of release. After the show, people recognised me and just carried me down, praising my performance and cheering me. I expected about 50 per cent of this success. The response bowled me over." Ravi is thrilled.

The film's heroine ...

"Sadha is a Marathi girl. She had done the same role in Telugu with Nitin as hero. She was very helpful, professional and cooperative. And though I was a new face, she made me feel comfortable during the photo session, which had a lot of romantic shots," smiles Ravi. So the hit pair must still be in touch ...

"No, we didn't get along too well towards the end. People change, I suppose ... " Ravi concludes rather philosophically.

The father's influence ...

The dad seems a dominant force in Ravi's life. "Nothing like that ... it's just that my brother, father and I are on the same wavelength. Put us in different rooms and ask us our opinions on a particular subject ... most of the time our reactions would be similar."

Dhanush's sweeping victory ...

"I believe in Time. Also my approach is different. "Jayam" has been such a hit that I don't wish to spoil the reputation it has earned me. I can wait."

The "Alavandhan" unit ...

As part of his internship for the undergraduate course Ravi joined the "Alavandhan" unit in Delhi for 45 days. He describes it as a thrilling experience. "I learnt a lot about the techniques involved. And watching Kamal Hassan in action was unforgettable." It is easy to guess that Kamal is his most favourite actor. And among heroines it is Simran and Jyotika.

Unforgettable reactions for the debut performance ...

"Rajinikanth saw the film and commended my performance. Surya was another person who liked my work. And in a recent TV appearance Vikram complimented me ... it made me very happy."

Family ...

Brother Raja is a promising director, who had already tasted success with the Telugu hit, "Hanuman Junction". Sister Roja is a dentist. "She is a good critic too," laughs Ravi.

On his new film ...

"It will be a nice, neat family entertainer with the right amount of romance and action for the youth. We plan to begin shooting by the end of the month."