Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raavanan : An unforgettable journey

Raavanan: An unforgettable journey

With hardly a week to go for the release of the much hyped Raavan/Raavanan, the team behind the movie is a bundle of energy, excitement and nerves as it get together for a tele-presence. While speaking about the experience of shooting in some of the most beautiful locations in the country, rubbing shoulders with some of the best talent in the world, they reveal that somewhere along the line the project went from being ‘just another Mani Ratnam movie’ to a journey that none of them will forget. As Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram and Mani Ratnam indulge in a freewheeling chat filled with laughter and anecdotes, their warm camaraderie was obvious.

* Husband-wife chemistry
Abhishek is quick off the block.“This is not our first film together and I’ve always maintained that as a co-star Ash is wonderful. Once she finishes her shot, she’ll stay back, watch what’s happening and help out,” says Abhishek. His wife reciprocates the compliment and adds, “Abhishek has always been a ‘free actor,’ he gives every role his 200 per cent.” The couple say that shooting for this movie has made their bond stronger. “There were times when I couldn’t sit because I was so sore from all the stunts. Those were times I was thankful I had my wife with me because things just seemed so much more easier with her around,” he adds.

* Abhishek-Vikram rapport
“I have a lot of respect for Kenny sir and I’d be foolish not to consult him while preparing for my scenes,” says Abhishek, getting all serious as Vikram breaks in, “Since Abhishek was playing the same role in Hindi, we’d sit together and discuss things and bounce ideas off each other.” The Junior B fondly recalls how one of his best experiences was when he was shooting scenes as Beera and Vikram would be standing near the camera prompting and encouraging him. “Of course, I wish I could tell you that all we did was sunbathe lying on the rocks in Athirappally,” he quips and breaks into loud guffaws.

* Twice as much
The former beauty queen recalls, “Sometimes it was absolutely gruelling because I would have just shot in Hindi and Mani would say, ‘Quick, quick, let’s shoot the same thing before we lose the light.’ I’d look at him with this confused, stunned expression and he would give me the same look back. That was when I realised that working in two languages was equally taxing for him too.”

* Casting coup
Public curiosity over the project was aroused when Mani cast Abhishek and Aishwarya together after Guru, then signed Vikram and Govinda… The director calmly responds, “Casting plays a significant role and if you’ve got that right, then 50 per cent of your film is done. When I was developing the story, I could see that these were the actors who would best fit the roles I had in mind. I just went with my gut instinct.”
To break the serious tone of the proceedings, Abhishek quips that he was the perfect choice for Beera. “I’m so badly behaved that Mani couldn’t dare cast any one else,” he jokes. “With Yuva he saw I was too seedha saada, so he asked me to learn bad language. Of course, I did that with extra enthusiasm, so he tried taming me in Guru but now, in Raavan he’s unleashed the madness!” To this his director playfully retorts in the same light-hearted vein, “Yes, I cast him because he is mad!”

* To sir with love
“Welcome, my fellow Raavan club member,” were the first words Abhishek utters as he spots Vikram and the two exchange a flurry of gestures from the movie while the entire group breaks into laughter. The respect that the actors have for their director was obvious and Aishwarya chooses to put it this way, “Mani is a man who leads by example and when he’s around we know that nothing is impossible.”

“There were times when we had to travel long distances in the forest to reach a particular location, all of us would be in the jeep but Mani sir would insist on walking. And being obedient students we would have to follow him. It was all right for one day, but after that we would force him to travel in the vehicle with us,” narrates Vikram.

Behind the scenes
* The most valuable lesson I learnt...
Junior B puts on a straight face, “My biggest lesson was that reverse osmosis exists and I know that because I was in the water for so long. Snakes can swim, yes even the land snakes can. And rat snakes can attack humans, while leeches have this annoying habit of getting into the most uncomfortable places you can imagine!” Laughter all round.

* The many names of Vikram...
Even though everyone calls Vikram ‘Kenny sir’ now, they admit that they tried out a huge list of names for him. Right from, Vikram, Chiyaan, Arumugam, Dev and even Raavan!

* The cause of confusion...
Poker-faced, Abhishek claims that he was the only sane member of the team because he played just one role in one language. His wife agrees, “I was juggling between Hindi and Tamil, so was Mani. Now, Vikram was playing two different roles in two different languages and he wasn’t familiar with one of them. And then, we had Prithvi who is a Malayali actor doing a role in Tamil so it was a huge khichdi!”

* The unstoppable Ash...
Ash’s first word in Iruvar was ‘Pesalama?’ (meaning ‘can I speak?’) and she says that ever since then her career has been soaring. When Abhishek smoothly retorts, “That’s when she started talking and hasn’t stopped ever since. Why, Mani why… Why did you have to do this to me? She’s the real Raavan.”

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