He has completed 30 years in the film industry, and more importantly, he completed shooting for his 100th Kannada film Pushpaka Vimana last year. He is among the most loved anchors on Kannada television and a director par excellence.
Well, the legendary Kamal Hassan himself requested to be directed by him. Capping a year of many achievements, his directorial Sundaranga Jaana released in December 2016. Meet the super-talented and yet very down to earth Ramesh Aravind who shares his journey in this heart to heart conversation.
As I catch up with Ramesh, he is in a great mood as his movie Sundaranga Jaana has opened to great reviews. Naturally, we kick-start the conversation on this movie. “I am so happy that every comedy punch has been noticed and applauded. We have a new dialogue director in this movie, Guruprasad Kashyap, so the lines are very fresh.” The movie, incidentally, has introduced a lot of new talent in the form of Pradyumna Narahalli (actor cum lyricist), Lavanya (singer) and Balachandra T K (lyricist).
“I have always believed in introducing newcomers pretty much the same way K Balachander and Geethapriya did for me. It is my way of returning back to the profession and that is a great thrill. In fact, I meet a lot of talented people, but being able to match that talent with the film is a connect that needs to happen. It was interesting as on one hand we had experienced actors like Sadhu Kokila, Rangayana Raghu, Devaraj and Ganesh, and on the other, we had new guys like Vasishta N Simha and Shanvi, so it was a good mix. Luckily, they all went in the direction I wanted, so the movie worked out really well,” he says.
So, how was it working with Ganesh? “It was very nice as I always wanted a hero who can blend comedy and romance, and Ganesh was the perfect choice. Also, he is very amicable on the sets and gelled well with the team. In fact, his role is like the roles I would do in the past.” Incidentally, when he writes his movies, he instinctively understands whether he will play the part or get another actor to justify the role.
A fulfilling journey
When I ask Ramesh how he looks back at an illustrious career that he has carved out for himself, he tells me with his trademark charm, “I am a windshield guy rather than a rear-view mirror guy. My view is to look ahead and be like a start-up entrepreneur. As an actor and director, each project is new and we do not know where it is headed. Work is constant, but I guess if you do your work sincerely, it becomes your priority. Of course, I love my job and have always worked hard to meet the needs of various films. So if you do your work, good things will happen to you.”
In fact, Ramesh says a boy designed a T-shirt that read ‘Ramesh — Right Attitude Makes Everything Seem to Happen’ and it is a philosophy he believes in too: do your job and the rest will happen. Little wonder then that he completed his 100th movie, released his directorial, and also had his popular chat show Weekend with Ramesh, and he rightfully says that “2016 has been a good year.”
So, after all these years, has he changed how he selects work? “Not really, as it has to be something creative. Recently, I designed a unique programme for high school kids called R360, where every child can respond. I got the idea and thought it was great and jumped in. This is a platform for kids to showcase their strengths irrespective of the field they come from, and ensure they become confident.”
And since he dons multiple hats, I ask what really excites him and he says that the need to keep his mind engaged is constant. “Application of mind is very important as I cannot sit idle. Acting, direction and anchoring have their own charm and when I do it, I enjoy it all. Direction gives me a different high, and so do acting and anchoring. I do not like to procrastinate as I believe that we must never delay anything — no one knows what tomorrow looks like.”
Having worked for a long time in the industry, Ramesh says that he has not changed his perception of how he views his work. “I have never been nervous before a release, bothered by a flop, or overexcited with a hit. Of course, after a hit, the offers are better, but I never take these things personally.”
This is why he enjoys what he does and says his television show Weekend with Ramesh has given him many happy moments when he was able to connect with his guests and the audience.
Commenting on how the Kannada industry has evolved, Ramesh says that the new crop of actors come more prepared in terms of acting, dancing and the like. “They are well trained. I guess they know the tricks of the trade though the actual trade is something else. But as you grow here, you realise that it is a great privilege to be in this industry and get the love and affection of so many people. This is why I feel sad when many people do not give the same kind of reverence and take things lightly.”
The actor says that although he is not very active on social media, it does help when he has to share news related to his releases. “There are two sides to everything, whether in social media or otherwise. I respect things that grow organically rather than something that is choreographed. I am aware of what is happening, but do not drown in it all the time.”
Likewise, his take on awards is clear. “All of us are looking for some kind of validation and when it comes from a credible source, it is great.” After acting in so many languages, Ramesh says that talent and ideas matter and what differentiates one industry from the other is budgets.
Looking ahead, he admits that he has a couple of ideas brewing, but has not signed on anything new. Considering his busy schedule, he says, “Cinema is like a paid holiday, but after completing a film, I do take off for a couple of weeks and travel with my family. In Bengaluru also, we do check out new restaurants quite often.”
Ramesh is a person like no other and it is his easy-going, amiable nature that makes him loved by his fans and friends alike.