Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Ready and steady
Tamil film actor Ravi Shankar's next film may be "Thiradu Rascal", but he is all for clean entertainment
PHOTO V.V. KRISHNAN
PROMISING ACTOR Ravi Shankar has elements of a hit player.
Before his first film, the Tamil "Anbay Unn Vasam" (meaning fragrance of love) a major hit, was released, its hero Ravi Shankar alias Ashwin, now quite a well-known Tamil actor, almost lost his life. Recalls this young actor with a penchant for perfection, "We (Ashwin and his heroine Rathi) were 30,000, feet above sea level, hanging in the sky shooting for a song. We were to jump from a helicopter wearing a parachute. As we jumped, the clip of the parachute instead of opening, got disconnected because of strong wind, and we were submerged in the sea. With the help of the coast guard we were taken out. It was a miraculous escape." The incident got them major coverage in the Tamil media and the success of the film only added to the publicity of the actors. Then came his "Passport", which also was a popular film and its Hindi remake is on the anvil. Now, he has signed "Thiradu Rascal" in which he plays a rough and tough boy on the road, given to all kinds of mischievous habits ("quite like me," he admits). Meera Jasmine, the National Award winner is his love interest in it.
Ravi Shankar, who "somehow managed to live with the changed name" which was given to him by the director of "Anbay... " because there were already two Ravis - Ravi Krishna and Ravi Jayna - in Tamil films, says, "I couldn't live with a pseudo name. After I got known through my first film, the first condition that I put to my director was that I would retain my original name, to which they agreed," says the actor.
Ravi incidentally is the first actor (his forefathers belong to Bihar though) who opted for Tamil films over Hindi ones. He thus, also becomes the first actor from Bihar to act in Tamil films. Reasons this Films and Television Institute of Tamil Nadu alumnus and Commerce graduate from Vaishnavi College who is born and brought up in Chennai, "I am very practical by nature. I know my limitations. Several boys come to Mumbai with dreams of becoming heroes and struggled for decades. From the age of 19 till 23, I kept on trying in Mumbai too but didn't get a break. In Chennai, not only did I have my family and business to fall back on, but also, being the only son of my parents, I realised my responsibilities towards them and business. My efforts weren't showing any results also. It made me feel that life is not what you want, but what you get. Hence living in Chennai, looking after family and business and then trying to be in films was a more viable option for me."
Ravi didn't come unprepared into films. He not only learnt karate (he got his first black belt title in 1994 and third black belt title in 1997, and is a karate instructor for eight years), but also learnt both Western and folk dance, drumming, swimming, horse riding and driving. He is an athlete (runner) too. "I did not want to go to films unprepared and end up as a fiasco. From childhood I had a passion for films and would see at least three films a day, more for the technique and aesthetics than just pleasure. To be a part of the film world, I learnt everything I thought was needed to stay for long." But, all these lessons didn't come without a price. "I missed my youthful days in pursuit of my passion, be it fun in the college, flirting around with girls, get-togethers, etc. Because at eight I used to think like a 20-year-old and at 30, I think like a 55-year-old." But again, he is now reliving his "missed days" through his films, admits the soft-spoken Ravi,who refuses to be a part of sleazy films.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu