Behind the Scenes

Ravi Varman Exclusive Interview!

The Alchemist of Light

A Tragic Past

There are a zillion stories out there but there are only a few that leave an ever-lasting impression. Ravi Varman’s story is one such story and as a listener, there’s only one thought that hits you immediately – how did someone get so far in life, against such insurmountable odds?“I spent my early days in a village called Poyyoundarkudikkadunear Tanjore.I lost my mother as a child and back then, nobody knew about photos, no one had a camera and I did not have a single picture of her.I was obviously yearning to see my mom and it so happened that a photographer in the village had clicked one at my parents’ wedding. I went to the studio and I was told that the picture was out of focus.”For Ravi, life was not very forgiving back then. “After a point, I became very lonely and couldn’t stay in my village any longer. I hail from a royal family and I lost my parents to politics.The entire family was shattered. I couldn’t continue studying and I had to leave the city. I didn’t know how to survive. I tried to commit suicide on a train track for which I was arrested and jailed. I was held there for sixteen days. When I came out, I caught a train, stayed in the restrooms and traveled to Chennai. I couldn’t stand those sad, haunting memories. But I had to go on with life.”

At this point, he was literally transported to his tragic past. “There was this lawyer in Chennai and he offered to help me. I was 14 and he gave me a job. Though I was ready for any kind of job, I wasn’t informed that I would be treated like a servant.In a few days, I told him that I wanted to go back to my village. I had only 13 rupees and that was enough to take me to Tanjore. But this guy took all the money I was left with and let me go assuming I would come back to him. I decided I would never. That night I slept under a tree in Alwarpet, one opposite Kamal Hassan’s house. I survived only on water. I used to sleep under the bridge, in car parks, in a corner at the beach and my days moved on like that for about two to three months. Following which,I remember fainting on a road close to Music Academy. A guy helped me, gave me water and offered to buy me some tea. I denied and asked for a job instead. He was a waiter in Hotel Amaravati opposite Music Academy. I was given a job and food there. It’s etched in my brain, that feeling. I’ll never forget that meal.”

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