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Mohanlal's Krithichakra Malayalam film / Aran
'Aran' captures the soldier's life, says director Major Rav
By Meera Krishanankutty, Indo-Asian News Service
Chennai, July 11 (IANS) Former army man Major Ravi has roped in Malayalam superstar Mohanlal for his bilingual film
"Aran", based on a soldier's life and the joys, sorrows and comradeship army men share.
The film is made in Tamil and Malayalam ("Kirthichakra") and Ravi claims it will be an eye-opener for the audience.
"Viewing 'Aran' will be a unique experience. It is real. It is a true account of a soldier's experience, and not a synthetic war story moulded to suit the celluloid," Ravi told IANS about his prestigious directorial venture releasing next month in Tamil Nadu.
Ravi says shooting the film in Kashmir and Afghanistan was a risky operation.
"Our goal was to capture reality at its best, in places of actual action, within a span of 30 days. We accomplished this, braving the severest weather and real terrorist threats," said Ravi.
Ravi is a war veteran himself and received the President's Gallantry Award in 1991 and 1992.
Q: How did "Aran" actually happen?
A: The army life was a treasure house of experience to me. There was a touching incident, which moved me beyond words. I scripted it four years ago hoping to make a movie based on it one day. It captures the true feelings, pains and joys of the soldiers and the wonderful comradeship they shared amongst themselves.
Finally, after a long wait and a series of disappointments, when R.B. Choudhari, volunteered to finance the film and Mohanlal agreed to play lead role, I was absolutely thrilled. Also, Priyadarshan, who is a like a brother to me, gave me strong moral support.
Q: From the barracks and battlefront, you have come to the make-believe world of dreams and aspirations. How was the migration?
A: Cinema was in my heart even when I was in service. Fortunately, I acquired an excellent group of friends in the industry, which included Suresh Balaji, Priyadarshan, Santhosh Sivan, and Mohanlal (thanks to the film "Kalapani").
I was serving at Port Blair while "Kalapani" was being shot there. Hearing about my participation in heading the commandos operation in connection with Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, Mohanlal expressed his wish to meet me. He wanted to know about the Sivarasan episode in detail. He invited me for a chat and that marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship with the whole team.
Later, after my retirement, Priyadarshan introduced me to the world of commercial advertisements. He accepted me as his assistant. And it was Santhosh Sivan who first took me into the world of cinema. His recommendation fetched me a consultant's job for movies on war.
"Pukar" was my first assignment. Then followed "Terrorist", "Kannathil Muthamittal", "Maa Tujhe Salaam", "Main Hoon Na", and "Rang De Basanti".
I also did a children's movie, "Punarjani", which was widely appreciated.
Q: What is "Aran" about?
A: It speaks about a beautiful bond between an officer and his subordinate and much more about the army life, and the soldiers' strong loyalty to the country.
The story unfolds through fragments of a flashback about a major and his Havaldaar, brought alive by Mohanlal and Jeeva. The beauty of the 'buddy' relationship has been portrayed by them wonderfully.
Q: Why did you opt for a bilingual film?
A: I believe that soldiers are the same everywhere. Their stories or feelings have universality about it. I wanted them to reach out to as many as possible.
Q: Did you have to compromise on the theme or treatment for commercial reasons?
A: Not at all! My story was straight and simple. I had to shape it cinematically. That was all. I gave music a prominent role in the flashback. It is not thrust upon viewers, but woven into the scenes.
Q: You were revisiting Kashmir on a new mission. How did you feel about it?
A: It was great to go back to the barracks, even if it was to shoot with a camera! My colleagues were immensely happy to see me. They went out of the way to provide extra security to us, and this was touching.
They were thrilled beyond words to have Mohanlal and other artistes with them. They thoroughly enjoyed correcting the body positions of the actors and training them to handle the arms (which were real and not dummy). We also had many of them acting in the movie, and this made it more realistic.
Q: How was your shooting experience in Kashmir and Afghanistan?
A: It was a highly risky operation. Eights bomb blasts took place near Dal Lake, which was only a few kilometres away from the location while the shooting was on! But, amazingly, not one member of the unit was deterred.
The atmosphere was charged with excitement, and the whole unit worked with a fighting spirit, which truly matched a soldier's mental frame. The light men and the rest of the technical crew, who were the last to pack up, deserve special mention for their unbelievable grit and determination.
In Afghanistan the fear and uncertainty were always felt. But the experience had the charm of an adventure.
Q: Are you happy about the end product?
A: Very much. The rest is left to the audience.
Q: Have you planned your next film?
A: Not exactly. But I want to make a very different film for children, with a good message and a happy ending. Many children told me that "Punarjani" was too sad a film for them.
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