Rahul reaps what he sows...

Even as he is receiving responses for his latest Nagarjuna-starrer 'Manmadhudu 2', actor-director Rahul Ravindran has won a National Award for his debut film 'Chi La Sow', writes Srivathsan Nadadhur

In all probability, there wouldn’t be any Friday like this year’s August 9 for actor-director Rahul Ravindran in his career ever again. It was the release day of his second film as a director — Manmadhudu 2 featuring Akkineni Nagarjuna and Rakul Preet in lead roles. Before he could make any sense out of the barrage of extreme responses (both good and bad) the film was receiving, the announcement of a National Award for his debut film as a director, Chi La Sow (for the Best Screenplay), turned the day on its head for the filmmaker.

“When I went to the theatres and saw crowds roaring in laughter, I couldn’t understand if I was happy or sad. Even more than savouring the award, the responses of Manmadhudu 2 were on top of my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I could have got an award on a different day and could have cherished it more,” the Chennai-born says, in a rather settled space, a few days into the National Award win.

Rahul Ravindran entered the film industry aspiring to be a filmmaker and ended up becoming a bankable actor instead, with a series of impressive performances in Telugu films like Andaala Rakshasi, Srimanthudu, Ala Ela, U Turn and Tiger. Being part of the filmmaking process, regardless of the role, fascinated him the most. The acting stint proved to be an ideal base to fuel his directorial ambitions further. Rahul did take charge of his long-time goal soon with the indie-spirited Telugu film Chi La Sow starring Sushanth and debutant Ruhani Sharma in 2018.

Although narrated in a rom-com exterior, the film was a light-hearted take on the trappings of the arranged marriage system, with due focus on mental health, modern-day struggles, anxieties of millennials with a dose of adventure, too. There was more to the film’s story than what meets the eye. As a first-time filmmaker, it helped him that he had clarity about what he wanted. “When you’re working on a film and want to drive a crew of over 100 people towards a singular vision, having a clear head is paramount because of time.”

The mild social commentary about arranged marriages in the film was an off-shoot of all discussions he’s had with his parents in his teenage years. “I kept telling my parents that I can’t connect the dots about this process leading towards an arranged marriage. You meet someone for 10 minutes and make brutally practical decisions. Though you feel you are making an informed decision about accepting/rejecting someone, what is it to be at the receiving end?” Looking back at Chi La Sow, he finds the best part about it was about doing away with aspects like ‘how will the audiences receive it’ or ‘what do we need to do to gain commercial acceptance’. “It was a story that stayed in my head for 10 years. I went out and made the film exactly that way. Only after the film released did I understand how such personal stories can touch people. I am glad that a film that wasn’t just showy or meant for visceral entertainment worked so well with people,” he remarks.
The leap from Chi La Sow to his second (Manmadhudu 2) directorial has been huge — the extravagance, the star-studded cast, the wide audience that got to watch his film (unlike the first). He has processed all these advantages with a sense of responsibility. “The kind of platform that Nagarjuna sir gave me (who also produced Manmadhudu 2) and the faith he had in me was a huge morale booster. Once the reactions of the film started coming in, he has firmly stood by me. It has helped me stay sane. For a senior actor who has seen it all, his words were humbling,” Rahul quips.

The actor finally feels gratified about all the choices he has made in the last decade. The joy in the face of his parents, the happy tears in his better-half (singer) Chinmayi’s face after the award announcement were priceless moments for him.

Has Rahul, the director, changed the way Rahul, the actor approaches his films? “I’m that kind of an actor who listens to the director, gives him what he wants and gets out. Because I knew that I always wanted to be a filmmaker, I know what the director would expect out of an actor, so I don’t offer unsolicited advice. I don’t think that’ll change in the times to come,” he signs off.

 

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get the top news in your inbox
GET IT
Comments (+)