Behind the Scenes

Ravi Varman Exclusive Interview!

The Alchemist of Light

Light at the End of the Tunnel

As dramatic and as movie-like his past might seem, his story is gripping in a poignant manner.He continues, “The guy who helped me was an aspiring actor and as soon as his work got over, he used to take his cycle and go to all the possible cinema offices. I used to tag along. The first month, I got paid 150 Rupees. I went to Moore Market to shop and I came across a camera shop. I picked up a camera for 125 Rs in an impulse and I also bought a book on cinematography.I started clicking random photographs. After a point, the camera wasn’t working properly and with a doubtful mind, I opened it to take a look inside. The film was stuck. I closed it immediately and when I took it to the studio, they told me I shouldn’t have opened it as the negatives got fogged. Something about the camera inspired me and I couldn’t help but think of my mother’s photograph that was out of focus. After six months, I realized I shouldn’t be a waiter at a hotel. I knew I belonged to another world.”

According to Ravi, to become famous, you either become a politician or a sports person or get into the film industry and he chose films. He says with films, a mind is the only capital. “I wanted to become an assistant director but nobody would take me in. So I decided to become an assistant cameraman, which again was not a piece of cake.”Hence, he began as an office boy which led him to greener pastures.

The First Big Leap

After becoming an assistant cameraman there was no looking back for Ravi. People thought that he was the highest paid assistant cameraman. He worked day and night relentlessly. “I had just gotten married. I told my wife I could not work as an assistant anymore and I had to make my own movies but nobody gave me a chance and all they wanted was a showreel.” Ravi continued to make plenty of commercials but that didn’t help him either. Just when things had gone out of hands again, he received good news. “I got an opportunity from the Malayalam film director TK Rajeev Kumar. I was very excited to meet him as I knew he only worked with big DOPs.I was also scared at the same time as the competition was fierce and they were looking to make an art film. The Budget was only 11 lakhs.”

To develop his skills, he took references, learned from books and other movies. He followed the procedure from a guidance book American Cinematographer.But when the negative came out, the director called him in and began yelling. “He was so disappointed. I had no clue what had gone wrong. I went to the lab and there was some technical error. Everything was overexposed. The image was completely white and there were no details. The book said that with high voltage calibration, the print would come out fine. I finally spoke to the lab people to find out what had gone wrong in the process.I was not informed of the one-stop overexpose they had done. After I told the technician of the possible rectification, he denied it saying it would be too risky.” However, Ravi was persistent. It was his first chance in life and it was a do or die situation. Amazingly, the print was beautiful once they corrected it. “I was appreciated for my work.  Life began on a positive journey after this.”

back to top icon
More in Behind the Scenes
Classic Legends expands footprint in Kerala; Opens second showroom in the state at Kochi


Kicha wins “Yono SBI 20 Under 20”