By Subhash K. Jha, Mumbai, Aug 6 IANS | 2 years ago

Ravi Rai, elder brother of "Raanjhanaa" director Aanand Rai, changed the way we look at TV with serials, notably "Sailaab" and "Sparsh", which were path-finders. After being a recluse for about 10 years, he is ready resurface to show his feature film.

Oddly entitled "Maya, Vanilla and Strawberries", it is an autobiographical film on male-bonding.

"Where have I been? I've been trying to find a centre to my life. When I was doing television there was scope for much innovation. That is why we could do something as path-breaking as 'Sailaab'. But now I feel Indian television has reached stagnancy," he said.

"Everyone is doing the same thing. Big revenue is involved and no one is willing to risks. If I ever do television again, it would have to be something that would make my audience think about the quality of our life," he added.

However, Cinema, feels Ravi, is going through a ferociously fertile phase.

"Movies are talking about sperms ('Vicky Donor') and sex. In the recent release 'Sixteen', the attitude of the youngsters is, 'I want to f...k so what?' I think our cinema has discovered a new freedom. And it's still trying to find out what to do with that freedom.

"Meanwhile, a director like my brother Aanand is able to express himself exactly the way he wants to in his cinema," he said.

Ravi's feature film is based on his own life. "Every student and youngster has his own 'Chashme Buddoor' to recount. In my younger days, I too had my bum chums in Delhi. They continue to be my friends to this day. They are Raju Kher (Anupam Kher's brother) and Deepak Sinha."

In "Maya, Vanilla and Strawberries", Namit Das and Aman Uppal play Ravi's pals while Ali Faizal (the young guitar-playing actor from "Fukrey") plays Ravi.

Said Ravi: "It's an autobiographical film. Ali Fazal plays my character. I first wanted to make a vigilante film entitled "Sorry Mr Gandhi, I Have To Kill Them". It's about 50 youngsters getting together to kill five of the most corrupt politicians of the country. It's a very controversial subject. I'll come to that after 'Maya, Vanilla and Strawberries'."

He also has "Main Manjula Parmar", sport based script, which is about is the story of a girl from the interiors of Rajasthan who becomes a basketball champion and represented India at the Asian Games.

"With these films I hope to break the mould in the same way that I did on television. The good thing is, my brother Aanand's success gives me a certain freedom. He can ask distributors to see my films and they will. That's it. After that I'm on my own."

Proud about his brother's success, he said: "We live five minutes' distance away from one another and we work out of the same office. I always knew he had it in him. When Aanand made 'Tanu Weds Manu', I was thrilled.

"His female protagonist Kangna Ranaut was unlike any heroine I had seen. She drank and she was frank. She was foul-mouthed and fearless... This is the kind of freedom I wanted my female characters to have in my television serials. Now, hopefully, I'll find a similar freedom in my movies."

(Posted on 06-08-2013)