The IC-814 flight hijacking will haunt India forever. Eight years after the blot on the skies, the truth remains hazy. A former military official, now a top filmmaker in Kerala, Major Ravi will expose the behind-the-plot scenes in his film Kandahar.
And he has landed a casting coup. Indian cinema's two acting powerhouses, Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan, will share the silver screen together for the first time in Kandahar.
"It is a big international conspiracy," says Ravi. "Many facts have not been revealed. India had to the pay price, even though many countries were involved in the hijack drama. My film, in Malayalam and Tamil, will explore the truth. I have got authentic information on what really happened, who the key players were. Obviously, I can't reveal the plot now."
On the casting coup, he says modestly, "Yes, if everything goes according to plan, the film will have Mohanlal and Kamal as commandos. Both of them are keen to act together; they are my close friends as well."
Kamal had expressed his desire to act with Mohanlal in a recent public function in Thiruvananthapuram.
Friendship apart, won't it be a huge task to make two of India's top actors act in a single frame?
"Yes, that is the challenge," Ravi replies. "That is why I said everything should go according to the plan. There are many things which I have to consider. I have to be careful that the presence of the two should not affect the course of the film. Yet, I am confident that it will work out smoothly. I am also planning to make it in Hindi with a different cast."
All his films are, perhaps, his personal accounts of history, be it Keerthichakra or Mission Ninety Days. While Keerthichakra depicted militancy in Kashmir, the latter looked into the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. In both cases, he had a crucial role to play.
If Keerthichakra raised the patriotic fervor, then his Mission Ninety Days drew a blank.
But Ravi says he is not rattled. "Mission Ninety Days was based on true incidents," he says. "I can't compromise on facts to make a film glamorous. People would have expected more sensationalism. But I am not the one for that. Those who are in the know really liked the film. International press agency AP interviewed me for over an hour after learning about the film. I don't have any regrets. It is a very special film."
But before Kandahar, Ravi will shoot a film on the Kargil war, which he says will be another "shocking revelation of the Kargil episode."
"The Kargil war was completely unnecessary. It was a war that was thrust upon us," Ravi says. "We may have won the war, but the human loss was mind-boggling. There are many facts which Indians should know."
The film, which also stars Mohanlal, will focus on the post-war situation. To be shot in Dubai, Pakistan and India, the Rs 8 crore (Rs 80 million) film will include the characters of Pakistan President Musharraf and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the key players in the Kargil episode.
"The search for their look-alikes has already begun," Ravi says.
Interestingly, Mohanlal will have the same name Major Mahadevan, which he played in Keerthichakra. "I don't know why. I have a special bonding for the name," Ravi explains.
There are many more stories that the Major would like to film. "There was a military operation in which we lost at least 100 soldiers in the war with China in 1962. Only four or five survived. But we won that particular battle. Despite being an incredible operation, it has not got its due. I have been trying to get details. That is one of my future plans," Ravi says.
The journey from a soldier to filmmaker, says Ravi, has been wonderful. "I have had the rare opportunity to pursue my passions. A soldier in the first innings, and a filmmaker in the second. I am enjoying this. There are more stories to be told."