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SITTING PRETTY

PREMA MANMADHAN

Ranjit, who is at home with most departments of cinema, tells Prema Manmadhan that he loves direction best

Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

MultifacetedRanjit travels to get inspiration for his movies. Top left, Mammooty in his movie, ‘Kaiyyoppu',

What strikes you about Ranjit's oeuvre is its diversity. Whether with regard to subject matter, style or genre, he refuses to be typecast. There is simply no Ranjit kind of movies, you have got to admit, like you have with other directors. It's hard to believe that both ‘Nandanam' and ‘Rock and Roll' came from the same person, isn't it? Lal Jose, of course, loves to flit from subject to subject and one genre to another, like a few others, but usually, directors like to confine themselves to their comfort zones.

Ask Ranjit what he is interested in besides cinema and he cannot think of anything else but travel, that too as cinema's handmaiden, when he is over and done with a movie and wants to relax, and is ready to seek inputs. Not the touristy place for him, where the majority flock to. “Sathyamangalam forests, that's my favourite place. Sometimes I go with friends, sometimes alone. I think I've been there eight times, usually after work on a movie is finished. Sitting and reading there is a great experience. We take provisions and cook for ourselves, for you won't even find an eating place there,” he says.

Raw material

Travelling gives Ranjit a lot more than relaxation. It is grist for his story ideas pool. Meeting characters, looking at life from a different perspective, give him the raw material to weave a story. “Every story that I have written is backed by a real life incident. Everything is redesigned, no doubt but the germ of a story always has real life backing,” he points out. And you think of ‘Devasuram', ‘Kaiyoppu', ‘Thirakkatha' and ‘Aaram Thampuran'.

For a man who wanted to do nothing else but cinema, his dreams have surely borne fruit. After Ranjit's School of Drama courses, he plunged headlong into his dream world, not taking up any other job. In 1987, ‘Oru Maymasa Puliriyil', directed by V.R.Gopinath, which had story by Ranjit, was released. After that he got a couple of ‘Jayaram' movies, as he puts it, like ‘Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal'. He hit big time with the script of ‘Devasuram', directed by I V Sasi. Ranjit had arrived.


With ‘Nandanam', Ranjit proved he was bound to be in cinema and nowhere else. Production could not be kept at bay, immersed as he was with most departments of cinema: storyteller, scenarist, actor and lyricist. ‘Kaiyyoppu' was a shorter than usual film that delved into terrorism and its aftermath, where he wanted to tell the world that terrorism was everywhere, that it need not be outside your purview, besides presenting a moving love story, well told. In between he donned greasepaint for Jayaraj's ‘Gulmohar', standing in for an actor who could not come at the last moment.

Experimenting with ‘Kerala Café' perhaps put him among the ‘happening' movie makers. The portmanteau film was an average movie where business was concerned, but whoever saw it loved it, he said. The small (budget) is beautiful credo alone cannot solve the crisis in Malayalam cinema, Ranjit says. True, the territory is small and big budget movies are a great risk. The current saviours like overseas rights and satellite rights may not last long, he fears. The next generation growing up in the US and in the Gulf regions may not want to see Malayalam movies at all, in the years to come, because they will be unfamiliar with the language. “So the answer is subtitling movies. Subtitled and shorter movies will definitely get a better response from the IT crowds outside the State and overseas Malayalees who do not know the language well enough to enjoy these movies,” Ranjit offers a solution. In a fast paced world, few have three hours to spare at a cinema, nor the patience, less so, as the years roll on.

Though most departments in cinema appeal to Ranjit, he confesses he loves direction best. He is not particularly interested in photography, personally, while he travels. But theatre, from where he started out, interests him. He is toying with the idea of a theatre production soon.

And remakes? Ranjit definitely does not subscribe to the idea of remaking films in the same milieu. “There are enough subjects to make fresh moviers, why go in for remakes,” he asks, at the same time, commenting that he liked ‘Dev D' better than the original.

The Tamil movie that Ranjit was supposed to make, (the remake of ‘Nandanam'), is off. He confines himself to Malayalam., for he feels he has to be very comfortable with a language to make a film in it. Working with new faces also is a thrilling experience for Ranjit. “Moulding actors is a good feeling,” says the director who holds workshops for new faces before he shoots. With his latest movie, ‘Paleri Manikkam…', based on a novel by T P Rajeevan running in cinemas, he is yet to begin his next venture. Maybe a spell in the Sathyamangalam forests again to rejuvenate the creativity bug?

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