Ramesh Aravind: ‘The more local you are, the more global your reach’

The actor-director also talks about his latest films, 100, the flip side of the pandemic, OTT boom and more

Ramesh Aravind’s career has spanned Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films. The actor, who has donned many roles — that of an actor, anchor, motivational speaker, producer and writer, has bagged many awards. He is currently busy with his directorial venture, 100 scheduled for a November 19 release and his series, — Nandini and Sundari, are riding high on TRPs. Aravind is also gearing up for the release of the Tamil and Kannada version of Queen, that he has helmed apart from shooting for Shivaji Suratkal 2.

The actor, talks to MetroPlus about his films, the flip side of the pandemic and the OTT boom, with a pinch of humour.

Edited excerpts

100 is finally getting a release date. How does it feel?

The gap was inevitable for all of us because of the pandemic. We were ready to release 100 when Shivaji Surathkal completed 50 days, but it was not meant to be and we had to hold on to the film for a long time. Now, we are thrilled that the film will be released.

How would you describe it?

I would say it is a family thriller. It has all the emotional elements and realistically covers events that naturally happen in any south Indian household. The story takes a turn when one incident puts each of the family on tenterhooks and their lives go haywire.

You have acted and directed in it. Which among the two roles was tougher?

Toggling between the two comes quite easily to me. The actor in me finds it easy to direct. Communicating with actors is also easier. Being an actor helps me understand the challenges artistes face during the shoot.

Being a director is a constant job. It is taxing on the mind, as one starts planning the moment one wakes up. Sometimes, the director in me even dreams of the film. So subconsciously, the work continues for the director 24/7. I love it and switching between actor and director is fun. During the making of

Rama, Bhama, Shama, I would take my position as an actor and shout “Action” or “Cut.” I enjoyed every moment of it as I find the process of creating fascinating.

Could you talk of your relationship with Kamal Haasan? You have collaborated with him for nine films…

The easiest part about directing Kamal is that he understands cinema so well that half the job of the director is already done. He is passionate and the professional chemistry works. Working with him, I have learnt not to get stressed by him.

Today people talk about ‘pan-India films’. What do you feel about this term?

I believe with the OTT boom, everything becomes ‘pan universe’. The subtitling algorithms make understanding any film easier. I can watch a Korean or a Chinese film with the same ease on these platforms.

Do you think we will lose out on our roots if we try to make universal stories or films?

Not at all. In fact, I believe the more local we go, the more global the reach. A film like Thithi, which is set in Mandya, is enjoyed by someone in France simply because it introduces him to a new world. The more honest you are to your culture and language, the more appealing your film is to the international market.

You have had a good innings on the large and small screen. Will we see you on the OTT platforms any time soon?

Absolutely. Any opportunity to display any small part of me, I will be there. Whether it is a mobile, OTT, a stage or a corporate function, I see them as platforms where I can broadcast what I am and my ideas to the world, in what ever way I can. I would like to explore audio podcasts too. And we are now in talks with OTT for a few projects.

How did the lockdown effect you?

I am a doer and like being active every minute of the day. The lockdown was hard for me. After a while, I got tired of being a couch potato and running between the kitchen, refrigerator and computer. I felt like my world had literally frozen on a 60-40 site. I did try to learn about my craft and other things. I tried cooking odd things, something I had never dared to attempt in the past. It was a challenge. The only good thing was that the lockdown provided me the space and time to spend quality time with my family. I think, now they have had enough of me and they are looking forward to sending me out on shoot (laughs).

How does it feel to step out for events and film launches?

It feels weird. After living in tees and pyjamas for two years, I found getting into a suit uncomfortable. My feet that had settled into the feel of flip-flops, refused to be tied down in leather shoes. I suddenly felt like a kindergarten child, learning to tie my shoe laces… I think I have forgotten what it feels like to be in a crowd.

Just six months ago, when we were in a studio for the post production of the film, we were just three of us, wearing double masks and sitting yards from each other. The feeling now is that the health of system itself seems to be bouncing back, which is a relief for humanity as a whole.

How have you managed to remain constant all through the ups and downs?

I am not bothered about the number games, nor do I worry about what will happen after a film is released. I am happy about my past laurels, but that should not stop me from going ahead. I just do my best and give my all to whatever I do and leave the rest to destiny. What is important is enjoying the process of creating.

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