Cinematographer-director Rajeev Ravi has made his presence felt in various languages, capturing the different hues, characters, and lives of India on his camera. Interestingly his frames were always more subdued than colourful.
Even when he is making films in Malayalam, Rajeev is busy framing Bollywood. His ‘Thuramukham’ which has been postponed many times is all set to hit theatres on March 10th. Rajeev Ravi talks about his latest film and the changing trends in cinema.
We have to postpone the release of the film many times. There are many reasons for it. The film made on a large canvas was filmed in and around Kannur. It wasn’t possible to just shoot the film in Kochi. We put up a set at Azhikode in Kannur. And also refurbished a street at Thalasseri market. The film is set between 1930 to 1950. Gokul Das got the State Award for the Best production design for 'Thuramukham'. Though 'Thuramukham' was selected at the Rotterdam film festival twice, we couldn’t send the film.
Bollywood seems to be wary of South Indian cinema.
Bollywood is scared of South Indian cinema. Recently, only a few Bollywood films have managed to succeed at the box office. The rest of the hits were all from the South. This has been going on for some time. Through TV channels, mobile phones, and the internet, people from UP, Punjab, etc are able to access the Hindi dubbed version of South Indian films. Even in Nepal, they are watching our films.
They are quite familiar with some of the Tamil and Telugu actors. For the longest time, many people used to think Indian cinema was Bollywood. That has been debunked now.
About OTT platforms
OTT platforms have their positives and negatives. Once upon a time most of the Hollywood studios had come to Mumbai. Despite the arrival of Disney our animation quality didn’t get better. They simply rehashed old content claiming this is what people wanted. OTT is also going through the same plight. Maybe one in ten will be good films or series.
'Sherni' was one of the finest films to release on OTT in recent times. It would be interesting to see a film like that from Bollywood succeeding. The film is directed by one of the finest filmmakers we have today, Amit V Masoorkar, who directed 'Newton'.
Thanks to OTT platforms there are more job opportunities. That way it is a good thing. There are many external sources getting involved in the creative aspects of filmmaking now. Not just from the censor board. In between some are trying to make experimental films.
Should we burn the script?
As far as a director is concerned, a script is just a stepping stone. It isn’t about adapting what’s been written on paper verbatim. Earlier I was talking about the opportunity to transform cinema into a product. For example, 'KGF' was a super hit. A lot of people will ask you to copy the KGF model. You don’t need to byheart the script. I spoke about combining all these elements earlier. But somehow it was taken out of context and came out as if I said the script should be burned. It wasn’t read the way I meant by a lot of people.
About Anurag Kashyap’s Kazhcha
There is a terrific sync between me and Anurag Kashyap when we work together. And it is something that rarely happens to a director and cinematographer. We found each other. At that time we did quite a few good films together. We still have that bond. Due to various reasons, Anurag is getting cornered from various quarters. But he continues to do films braving the opposition. He is making money by playing antagonist roles in Tamil.
Collective Phase 1
It is after producing KM Kamal’s 'ID' that I gained the confidence to produce a film. Along with a few of my friends, we made the film on a small budget. The film’s budget was 22 lakhs. We showed that we can shoot a Hindi film in Mumbai with that budget. That confidence resulted in the Collective Phase. Later, we did 'Liar’s Dice'. Most films aren’t produced after a lot of selective processes. Most of them come from our close circle of friends.
The Collective is a conglomeration of like-minded people. At times we do farming. Be it cinema or farming, we often end up losing money. So one can say that we are a group of people who have no idea how to do business or sell a product.
If we get exciting content, we will definitely produce them under Collective Phase 1. We are interested in current, relevant topics and politics. I believe that cinema is a medium that should involve in such topics. Having said that I believe we should also have mainstream cinema. Without ‘Pulimurugan’ there wont be a ‘Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.’ That’s a reality. We need to balance both.
Cinema and art studies require better avenues
Earlier the government-run arts schools, art colleges, and film schools were all brilliant. There was a subsidy to study in these schools/colleges. Those with talent could study here for a small fee. Now that isn’t possible. It has changed at FTII also. They have increased the fee but the quality has gone down.