Rahul's directorial debut 'Chi La Sow' will release on August 3.

Idea for Chi La Sow came from a friends wedding Director Rahul Ravindran to TNM
Flix Interview Wednesday, August 01, 2018 - 15:33

For Rahul Ravindran, watching the first-day-first-show of his directorial debut is a dream he has harboured from childhood. But with all eyes set on the release of Chi La Sow (Chiranjeevi Lakshmi Sowbhagyavathy) on August 3, eight years after his debut as an actor, Rahul is already on tip-toe and the excitement is quite palpable in his voice.

Chi La Sow was a risk I plunged into. But it no longer remains one as I have fulfilled the dream of becoming a director in an industry that I fell in love with,” Rahul says.

But this debut director has already struck off his dream of watching the FDFS of Chi La Sow for obvious reasons. “I turned up for the test screening of Chi La Sow and was quite happy to see viewers laughing and responding to the film. But soon I started panicking and felt uncomfortable. I walked out, relaxed for a while and ended up listening to the whole movie from outside the theatre.”

For those of us who’ve known this actor and read some of his blogs, it was evident that the writer in him would come to the fore with time. The idea of Chi La Sow, which Rahul would like to call a ‘slice of a film’, harks back to a decade.

“It was during the wedding of one of my close friends that the idea of Chi La Sow was born. I was quite amused at the prospect of how young people choose their partners in a matter of 10 minutes during their ‘Pellichoopulu’.  It set me thinking of the possibilities of a different turn of events which I crafted into a script later,” says Rahul.

A romantic flick that essays the story of its lead pair is now a staple theme for many new age Telugu movies. Movies like Kalyana VaibhogamePellichoopulu,Ala Modalaindi were box office hits that the Telugu audience gladly took to their hearts.

“Pelli choopulu plays a big part of Tharun Bhascker’s film. When I watched it, I absolutely loved it. My film is not similar; it’s just that new-age storytelling methods have a few similarities. The characters in Chi La Sow are fresh from life. It’s a character driven film and doesn’t revolve around plots.  The situations are not clichéd and it’s purely inspired from life,” Rahul shares.

The newbie director was on cloud nine after Annapoorna Studios agreed to be on board Chi La Sow. The popularity of the movie took leaps after Nagarjuna released its theatrical trailer on July 28.

“Samantha and I have been good friends from the time we started shooting for Moscowin Kavery. She was genuinely worried about my stint as a director as it involved a huge risk for my acting career as well. But a month ago, Samantha and Naga Chaitanya, who saw the final cut of the film, liked it so much that they convinced Nagarjuna to watch the film. Once Nagarjuna sir saw the film, he liked it a lot too and he decided to present the film, along with our producers," says Rahul.

It was in Mumbai, while dining at a restaurant, that Rahul Ravindran got an offer to audition for a television commercial to be directed by Dibakar Banerjee of Khosla Ka Ghosla fame, and the success of that fetched him more commercials. He went on to become a model, a dubbing artiste and got his first big break with director Ravi Verman’s Moscowin Kavery. He later acted in a couple of Telugu movies like Ala Ela and Andala Rakshasi which earned him critical acclaim.

“Though I am basically a Tamilian, I think my mom passed on some of her good genes that helped me quickly learn the language. I have been in the Telugu industry for six years now, I know people here and hence Telugu was my first choice to make my dream movie,” says Rahul.

Talking about the new generation movies that are increasingly capturing space in Tollywood, Rahul defines this tussle between the old school movies and the new-gen ones as a cyclical process.

“The change is happening. New generation movies are doing absolutely well and there is no catalyst like box office success. But I think the craze for fresh plots, fresh ideas among viewers works in orbits. There will come a time when viewers switch back to the masala flicks and novel content will stop clicking. I think the Tamil industry is already at the end of one such cycle,” Rahul says.

Though he doesn’t have a stellar acting career to boast about, Rahul says the industry has been kind to him and that the movies were his stepping stones to his journey of becoming a film director. He also admits to doing a few films just to have a decent bank balance.

“Though many of my movies were not box office hits, I was lucky enough to get good reviews on the characters I portrayed. I believe that being an actor made me a better director on the sets of Chi La Sow, as I could relate to the needs of my actors while they performed in front of the camera," he says.

For 11 months after Ala Ela and Tiger, Rahul didn’t take up any acting assignments. The scripts weren’t appealing. “During this time, I listed out ideas of my own that could later be full-fledged scripts. I have 35 such story ideas and 8-9 solid scripts in my trunk,” Rahul says.

But he doesn't rule out acting in future. "I am still open to doing movies as long as the scripts are appealing," he adds.

Rahul Ravindran with his wife and singer Chinmayi Sripada

Talking about films that are notable for well-defined women characters, Rahul says there are subtle surprises in Chi La Sow that break gender stereotypes. A sensible take on gender equations is already evident in the way Rahul articulates his thoughts.

Last year, on Twitter, he called out an advertising campaign by an e-commerce giant for its sexist views, and went on to state that his wife Chinmayi had earned more and hence paid more taxes than him.

“I am a feminist, but I would not harp about it on the streets. It’s a way of life, a part of our value system. I am very close to my mother and have also had good women friends all throughout. You cannot train someone on these values because being gender sensitive is a quality that you nurture,” the actor opines.

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