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Interview with Ravi Babu
Date: December 8, Hyderabad
kalyan ram

Ravi Babu is one of the very few Telugu film directors backed with brilliant academic credentials. He is also one of the few directors who doesn’t go for formulaic films in order to appease everybody. He created a niche market and catering to sensible audiences. His latest movie Manasara is all set to release on 10 December. Here are the excerpts of his exclusive interview -

You were a brilliant student. Now you are a niche filmmaker with lot of discipline. Did you academic credentials help you as a film director?
My education helped me a lot in filmmaking. I sincerely feel that all the aspiring directors should have enough education (even if it’s not about filmmaking) before venturing into this field. In the time of ANR and NTR, we used to have theater which laid foundation for them before they entered into film industry. Right now we don’t have a strong theater presence in AP. The process of filmmaking is about scripting, shooting and editing in the old days. Right now, shooting and post-production have become more complicated. It is essential for any filmmaker to have a good academic background.

Tell us about Manasara?
Manasara has a story that is told from the hearts of characters by the director. It is a regular boy meets girl kind of story that follows a typical 5-act structure that is followed for centuries. These five acts are

1. Introduction of the boy
2. Introducion of the girl
3. Boy and girl fall in love
4. Boy and girl are separated
5. Boy and girl are reunited

90% of the love stories written in books and made as movies follow the same 5-act structure. However, the catalyst changes from movie to movie. Ship is the catalyst for Titanic movie parental resistance and societal imbalance are the catalysts for Devadas movie. The catalyst of Manasara are going to be Kerala backdrop and Kalari fight.

It is a love story between a Keralite girl and Telugu boy. The guy gets stuck in Kerala because he loves the girl. The girl comes with emotional/personal baggage.

Which language did you use in the film since the entire movie takes place in Kerala?
I recently saw a film titled Kites in which the most of the story takes place in Mexico. They used two techniques to overcome the spanish laguage barrier. They had characters speaking in Spanish langauge and they added subtitles in English. In some of the other scenes, we have another character translating spanish to Hindi. The entire process is laborious for a normal movie goer to understand and follow the story telling. That’s why I am giving a disclaimer during titles of the movie that all characters speak in Telugu though the story takes place in Kerala. Though it is shown as Kerala, 60% of the film is shot in Hyderabad.

You are known for innovations when it comes to curtailing the budget without compromising on quality. Which innovation did you do for Manasara movie?
I sincerely feel that we are succeeded by 50% if we generate the right look and feel to the subject. We have seen Kerala in one dimension (boat houses, back waters, tea estates, resorts etc) in Telugu films so far. I had been 5 times to Kerala prior to starting the movie and I observed that 70% of Keralites live in forests. There are no demarcations between villages in Kerala. Kerala is one piece of humanity. I have shown the farms, greenery and ancient houses in the movie. We shot Manasara movie for 35 days in virgin forest locations of Kerala. We erected sets in those untouched locations and shot the movie.

I did my course in cinematography and shot various short films and ad films before venturing into feature film direction. Hence I understand camera and lenses well. I realised that you save budget by shooting with multiple cameras for vital shots. I shot the entire climax of the film in digital cameras. I used seven digital cameras to shoot the climax episode and I have got 1200 minutes of footage for climax scenes. I had to trim it to 12 minutes. If I had shot the climax with film cameras, I would have used 300 cans of reel. I shot few parts of the songs with video mode of SLR still cameras. A common audience who is watching the film wouldn’t realise which part is shot with film camera and which part is shot with digital camera. I agree that the output of digital camera is nowhere near to the output of film camera. I am contemplating on shooting my next film with digital camera.

Manasara is the most expensive film in my career till today. The total runtime of the movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Casting and detailing do standout in your movies. What is the secret?
I should thank my advertising industry in that aspect. Ad films are all about casting and detailing. I am merciless when it comes to casting. D Suresh Babu suggested that I should cast my father Chalapati Rao for hero’s father character in Soggadu. But I insisted that Kota should play the role and got Kota to do that character.

How is like working with new comers Vikram and Sri Divya?
Vikram has no experience and he got himself trained in a film instutute. Sri Divya did TV serials in the past. I has to undo all the things Vikram learnt at film school. I also had to undo all the timing Sri Divya acquired from acting in TV serials. It was a fun and tough experience working with new comers.

Tell us about your next movie?
I feel that I am as good as my previous film. I will let the market decide what kind of film I am going to do next. Telugu film industry has given me a niche market and is letting me to play in that space.

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Genelia (Actress)
Kamal Kamaraju (Actor)
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Harsha Reddy (Director n producer)
Bindu Madhavi (Actress)
Shweta Basu Prasad (Actress)
Dil Raju (Actor)
Santhi Chandra (Actor)
Teja (Director n producer)
Jeevi (Critic)
Lakshmikanth Chenna (Director)
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Ajay Sastri (Director)
Sekhar Kmmula (Producer)
Ravi Krishna (Actor)
Sunitha (Playback singer)
VN Aditya (Diector & Producer)
Nallamalupu Bujji (Producer)
Uday Kiran (Actor)
Chandra Sekhar (Actor)
Raahul (Actor)
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Gopichand (Actor)
Siva (Souryam director)
Venkatesh (Actor)
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Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
PG Vinda (Cinematographer)
Madan (Director)
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Bhargava (Producer)
Hari Yelleti (Director)
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Ram Mohan (Producer)
Salim Panda (Actor)
Surekha Vani (Actress)
Manjari Fadniz (Actress)
Vishal (Actor)
A Raja Sekhar (Director)
Sridevi (Actress)
Sayaji Shinde (Actor)
Viswa Tej (Actor)
Geetha Madhuri (Playback Singer)
Namitha (Actress)
Sneha Ullal (Actress)
Prem Kumar Patra (Producer)
GV Prakash (Music director)
Mohana Krishna Indraganti (Director)
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Udaya Bhanu (Anchor)
Meher Ramesh (Director)
Rao Ramesh (Actor)
Gopi Mohan (Writer)
Ajay Sastri (Director)
Vara Mullapudi (Director)
Bhumika Chawla (Actress)
Jagapati Babu (Actor)
Vijay C Kumar (Cinematographer)
Sekhar Kammula (Director)



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