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The Rediff Interview
Ramesh Arvind likes the director's cap
R G Vijayasarathy | March 22, 2006
Till his first directorial debut Rama Shaama Bhaama, Ramesh Arvind was known only as an actor. With the film -- a remake of Kamal Haasan's Sati Leelavati -- completing hundred days in Karnataka, Arvind is now recognised as not just a director but a successful one.
Even when he is busy working in films like Ekadhantha, directed by noted actor Sachin, Ramesh is busy looking for good scripts so that he can direct another film this year itself.
In a freewheeling interview, Arvind says he ventured into direction only because of Kamal Haasan. Excerpts:
It is a great feeling. First I would thank the people of Karnataka who have so overwhelmingly supported my efforts. I should thank Kamal Hassan also as he has been an inspiration to me. It was he who forced me to take up direction.
Many people in the industry now tell me that I should have directed films earlier. But I must say if not for Kamal Sir, I would not have taken up the responsibility of direction.
Success is a morale booster. The success of Rama Shaama Bhaama has changed the way the industry looks at me. Now I am accepted as an actor and a director.
You seem to enjoy a special relationship with Kamal Haasan. How that develop?
If there is one person I wanted to emulate in the field of cinema, it is certainly Kamal Haasan. I am lucky that I came into contact with Kamal very early in my career. We developed an instant liking for each other. I am really grateful to Kamal Sir that he not only agreed to act in my first directorial venture but also agreed to part with the remake rights of Sati Leelavathi to K Manju, a well known producer of Kannada films.
Do you remember your first meeting with Kamal Haasan?
Yes, that happened in Bangalore. The occasion was the 50th day celebration of his Telugu film Sagara Sangamam. I had compered the function. Kamal just smiled at me when I spoke.
Then I got to act in K.Balachandar's Sundara Swapnagalu. I did what Kamal Sir did in the Tamil original Solla Thaan Ninaikkiren. After that, Balachandar Sir invited me to Chennai to act in Punnagai Mannan. Unfortunately, the role conceived for me could not be accommodated in the final script. It was then that Balachandar Sir introduced me to Kamal Sir.
I acted with Kamal Sir in Unnal Mudiyum Thambi first, followed by many other films.
Do you feel direction is a tough job?
It will be an understatement if I say a director's job is the toughest in the film industry. The director is not just the captain of the ship, he should be able to handle everything about the film.
Success does not come easily in this industry, and that is one thing I have learnt from my Guru K. Balachandar Sir -- he is active even in his eighties.
Were you not supposed to direct a Tamil film with Kamal?
Yes, I was to direct a film called K G starring Kamal and myself. In fact, we had discussed the script several times here in Bangalore. Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao was involved in the writing of the final script. But then all of us decided to keep it aside for some time.
Why did you opt for a remake as your directorial debut?
I don't know why some people still harp on this aspect. I would rather ask a counter question: Why should I have taken an original subject for my debut?
That Rama Bhama Shama is the remake of Sati Leelavathi is well known. But I am proud to say that Rama Shaama Bhaama is essentially my film. The focus was different in the Tamil film directed by Balu Mahendra. When the film was remade in Hindi by David Dhawan, he opted to focus more on comedy.
Similarly, I have also made a lot of improvisations for the Kannada audience.