K.S. RAVI KUMAR , the sought after director of the film Dasavathar starring Kamal Haasan in ten roles wiuth Asin, tells JYOTHI VENKATESH in an exclusive interview in chaste Tamil

K.S. Ravi Kumar is excited about the fact that he has made his debut as a director as far as Hindi films is concerned with the Kamal Haasan starrer Dasavathar, which is the Hindi dubbed version of the original Tamil-Telugu bilingual hit Dasavatharam. When K.S.Ravi Kumar who is a director of super duper hits in Chennai as far as Tamil film industry is concerned was in Mumbai for promotion of his film Dasavathar recently, he took time off to talk to me about himself and his film.

Ravi Kumar who is considered the David Dhawan of Tamil films does not mince words at all. “I will be lying if I were to declare pompously that I consider film making as a service from my side to art. You can never catch me making an off beat or an art film now at this stage of my career though when I had set point to make my debut in Tamil films around nineteen years ago with the film Puriyatha Puthir, I was na├»ve enough to make art films.”

It is very interesting to note that Ravi Kumar who has to his credit hit films starring Rajanikant like Muthu and Sivaji had actually started his career not as a film maker but as an exporter of Tamil films to Malaysia, thanks to the good offices of the late comedian Nagesh, who he say was his good family friend. “I started off by exporting films to Malaysia and hence till date I consider films as business and not an art.”

Till date Ravi Kumar has directed as many as 37 films in Tamil and Telugu including Dasavatharam. He had started his career after giving up his export business by joining as an assistant to directors like Vikraman, K. Rangarajan, Relangi Narasimha Rao and Ramarajan.

Considering the fact that Dasavatharam was made at a cost of Rs 45 crores and ended up collecting a whopping sum of Rs 68 crores when it was released in Tamil and Telugu a year back, Ravi says that even before the release of the Hindi dubbed version, the film has already proved to be a super duper hit for producer Ravi Chandran of Aascar Films.

Ravi confesses that he was overwhelmed when the doyen among the film directors -K. Balachander who had actually discovered Kamal Haasan way back in Tamil films as a leading man, landed at his house a day after Dasavatharam was released and garlanded him to express his happiness after he had watched the film.

Ravi Kumar admits that though today he would not even dream of making any film without a mega star, he had made his first ten films without any big star. The reason is that no big star was even ready to recognize him, forget about being ready to listen to his story narration. It was only after Nattammai which he had made with Sharath Kumar who was at that point of time not a big star as he is now, that big stars started asking him if he would like to make a film with them.

Ravi Kumar says that today when he is sought after by big stars like Rajanikant and Kamal Haasan, he is not ready at all to take a risk by casting new actors in his film. Before Dasavatharam, Ravi had directed R. Madhavan in Ethiri.

Talking about his experience having directed Kamal Haasan, Ravi adds. “We are blessed to have an actor like Kamal Haasan in Tamil films. He is not only just an actor but an all rounder. In fact it is Kamal who has written the script of Dasavatharam, besides having played ten different roles in the film. There were times when I used to take just one single shot in six different days for Dasavatharam because we had to go in for visual effects for almost 90% of the film. We had to go in for double action without C.G. Kamal Haasan almost did mono acting on the sets.”

Ravi adds that it was quite tough for him to direct a mammoth film like Dasavatharam because he had to concentrate not only on the dialogues and the script but also calculate each and every shot while directing Kamal Haasan, because he was essaying multiple roles, often pitting himself with the other characters that he himself was playing.

What difference did you find between directing Kamal and Rajanikant? I ask Ravi. Comes the reply, “Kamal is class whereas Rajanikant is mass oriented. Kamal knows all the technical aspects of making a film since he is also a director whereas Rajanikant who gives ideas to directors does not get involved in the technique of the film.

K.S. Ravi Kumar has also the practice of appearing in every film of his, though he confesses that he has no desire to take up acting as a full time job or play the lead like some Tamil directors. “I see my face every day in the mirror in the morning and hence I know that I am not cut out for acting. Besides the fact also remains that I am just not inclined to take up acting, though initially I had played character roles in nine films of mine. Nowadays I appear in a cameo role in every film I direct because my producers feel that I am lucky for my film if I do a cameo role. I have appeared in Dasavatharam too in a small role”.

Ravi Kumar is of the opinion that language is not a barrier for any director, whether he is directing a film in Tamil or Hindi. “Mani Ratnam does not know a single word in Hindi. Hasn’t Mani Ratnam churned out great films in Hindi? I am keen on directing films in Hindi too. Right now I have no time to think about directing Hindi films because I am busy with not one but three projects o mine in Tamil.

K.S. Ravi Kumar says that he works at the same pace like in the beginning and in general completes a film in 90 days though it took him nearly two years to complete Dasavatharam. -Sampurn Media

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