Her heart says...
She may not be the usual Bollywood mom, but Revathy, acting opposite Amitabh Bachchan for the first time, has all her on-screen and off-screen values in traditional order.
I fail to understand why despite the demand for better stories, despite audiences liking serious films, they fail at the box office.
MYRIAD SHADES Revathy.
On their way to the sets in Mumbai, the entire crew of "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey" happened to see a bullock cart loaded with sugarcane. All of them wanted to have it. "When I reach the hotel, I will ask the server to get us some," announced Karan Sharma, the hero of the film. But he knew the servers would bring it cut and peeled in small pieces on a platter, much to the loss of its actual taste and the adventure of eating it raw.
Revathy, who plays Karan's mother in the film, mildly rebuked the guys, especially Karan sitting inside the car. "What kind of boys are you? The adventure of relishing sugarcane is in the Indian style. Just rush, pull the sugarcane, peel it with your teeth and enjoy. Why this fake sophistication?" As if everyone was waiting for someone to say this, they reversed the car, drove behind the cart, "pulled many sugarcanes and chewed them like small children."
This is what Karan recalls about his screen mom Revathy, otherwise a woman who exudes a very serious image with her films and persona, the one who doesn't even seem to crack a joke! Mention it to her and she coyly admits, "Look, everyone has a child in him or her. And one should let it play freely."
She plays a wife and mother of staunch views in "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey"...
After a gap of more than a year, we will see her in this third production of Romesh Sharma. We saw her earlier in "Ab Tak Chhappan" with Nana Patekar. She was also seen in Ashwini Chowdhary's "Dhoop" as the loving and extremely strong mother of an Army officer (Sanjay Suri) slain in the Kargil War. With her husband - played by Om Puri - she fights the corrupt administration to get the petrol pump allotted to them in memory of their son.
Twice National Award winner for "Mitr - My Friend" and "Thevar Magan", Revathy accepted "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey" because of its content-driven nature and the family values at its base. "When Romesh came to me with the script, the way he narrated it was so impressive that I prayed he should be able to make it the way he was narrating it. I had no reason to disagree. And my role of a mother who gives the best of values to her son and then feels shattered because he decides to marry a British girl, is so well sketched out that I didn't have any trouble performing it," raves the actress.
And there were a couple of shots that proved cathartic for her. "It is such a close-to-life film. Like any other educated Indian mother, I agree that if I have brought up my children with the best of values, they should be able to reciprocate the same way. And marriage is one of the most important issues in such families. It is true that parents know their children well and they will find the best matches for them. I personally believe in it. So in the scene where I blast, Karan saying, `After all, the Indian culture and values I nurtured you with, this is what you are giving me in return? You are going to marry a British girl with a different religion, culture and language? You didn't trust us to find the right match for you?' the scene was so realistic that it had me emotionally drained," she recalls.
Though she herself made a film that conveys the positive aspects of HIV positive people subtly and yet so convincingly, she agrees that Indian family films, especially issue-based ones, do have a lot of dramatisation. And "Dil Jo Bhi Kahey" is not much different. It is tinged with some sermonising too.
... after directing the critically-acclaimed "Mitr"
"Look, you can't help that in Indian films. We Indians are like that. We are more expressive in our emotions, whether it is major crying or anything else, while the Westerners are more restrained in their expression of emotions. A film on a family's love, care and values is bound to have some overplayed emotions. And this film also has some dramatisation. Here Karan and I fall into a debate with lots of emotional dialogues, but he keeps to his limits because he is being brought up like that."
Working with Bachchan
Playing a perfect foil to Revathy in the film is her screen husband Amitabh Bachchan. Whereas she is a doting but traditional-minded mother, the Big B is open-minded though as caring as Revathy. This is for the first time Revathy is playing a wife to him. She is all praise for the senior Bachchan. "I have been his admirer for long and after working with him, the admiration continues. It is amazing to see the energy level, commitment and memory that he retains at this age. I saw that before each shot he would behave as if it was his first film. He would cram the dialogue like a newcomer. He would rehearse it to himself and act completely as a director's actor. It taught me that one should never take one's job for granted. At times, when I used to have doubts about a scene in which I had to be with him in the frame, I would go to him and say, `Sir, can we do it (the shot) once as a whole?' He would immediately agree. He would throw suggestions but never interfere. The best thing with him is his performance when he stands before you. And when the performer opposite you is good, you also emote to your best and thus the final outcome is fabulous," says this director of "Phir Milenge", a beautiful film on HIV positive people that won her critical acclaim.
Box office duds
This serious filmmaker however wonders why films like "Phir Milenge" and "Dhoop" don't work at the box office. "I fail to understand that despite audiences' demand for better stories and despite their liking such films, they don't create the required buzz, and fail at the box office. I would like to know why it happens," says the actress, who, nevertheless, doesn't want to stop making such films, whatever mileage they may or may not bring her.
"I have reached a stage where I would like to do good films rather than successful films. And if a film is good, I don't care who its producer is, who the director and who my co-stars," she asserts.
... "Phir Milenge" PHOTO: S. GOPAKUMAR
For now, the actress is "ready with a script" of a film which she "may produce and not direct". She refuses to divulge anything about it at this stage though.
Judging by her track record, however, the end product will certainly be worth the wait.
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