The ‘reality factor’ in acting

KOCHI: Actor and director Revathy, director Ranjith and cinematographer Venu talk about their experience of being on the judges’ panel of a reality show for the first time ever.

Reality shows have almost become an integral part of our lives. Over the years, celebrities from tinselville, who carved a niche for themselves before or behind the camera, have made their presence felt on the small screen by being on their judges panels. But hardly have actor-director Revathy, director Ranjith and cinematographer Venu been spotted as the judges of any reality show.

The trio tells Expresso what prompted them to judge the contestants of Asianet’s ‘Mammootty the Best Actor Award — II’.

“I was never interested in watching or judging reality shows. Most of them highlight the failure and mistakes of the contestants and overplay emotions than give thrust on performance,” Revathy says. “And most of the drama looks so well-planned! M R Rajan, producer of ‘Mammootty the Best Actor Award – II’, had a tough time convincing me about how different this one is.”

Revathy was also particular about the other judges on the show. “It is important that the judges be comfortable with each other. I was glad when told Ranjith and Venu were the other two on the panel.” The 10 finalists were shortlisted from about 3,000 contestants.

Ten GenNext Mollywood directors, including Arun Kumar (‘Cocktail’) and Mamas (‘Pappy Appacha’) who have a film or two to their credit, trained the finalists — all of whom fall in the 10 to 30 age group — in acting, dialogue delivery, presentation and song sequences.

“So the contestants we get to see are not all that raw,” Ranjith says. “The hard work they put in is evident. It’s applaudable that the show focuses on finding good actors than zero in on faces who are good enough to don a hero’s or heroine’s garb. Although I was on the show’s judges’ panel for a short while last time, the format is entirely different and better this time round. ‘Mammootty the Best Actor Award — II’ is purely talent-based and aims to spot actors who can be placed in different slots. That definitely is a plus point.”

Ranjith, whose last directorial was the blockbuster ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint,’ is here for another reason, too. The director is hunting for new faces for his next film, a cinematic adaptation of Unni R’s short story, ‘Leela.’ And this, indeed, is fertile ground.

“The training phase of the contestants is over and they will be more relaxed in front of the camera. They have already imbibed the basic lessons of acting in films. That will make things easier when they face the camera.”

But what’s with the transition from a star-studded ‘Pranchiyettan’ to a film with newcomers?

“I’m fully aware that it is a risky affair. Theatre owners always prefer films with popular faces. Television channels, too, look for movies with known faces while buying a film’s satellite rights. And distributors are also interested in films with stars. But not all films with stars are hits. For example, my film ‘Kaiyyoppu’ with Mammootty in the lead failed to click. Why? Not because he didn’t do justice to the role but the masses didn’t get from the film what they expected of the ‘star’ Mammootty. ‘Leela’ is in no way absurd. It will break many conventions.”

The trio has been judging the performances of the contestants based on their acting before the camera. The directors who groomed the contestants have made short segments starring them to be screened before the jury.

“The major selection is over and we have been screening the performances of the 10 finalists. The show has been formulated with a comfortable format,” says Venu, whose next project is ‘Leela’ with Ranjith.

Mammootty, on his part, will give the finalists tips on acting. The winner will get to play a role in a film produced by Mammootty’s production company, Play House. There is never a right or a wrong in acting, Revathy chips in. “It’s rather about perspective. The directors who groomed the contestants have put in enormous effort to perfect the nuances of their acting. They have changed many pre-conceived notions the contestants had. Now they know that acting in films should be natural than overdo with theatrics. This has been a learning experience for us, too.”

Revathy is currently looking into a handful of scripts for her next Hindi directorial. “Nothing has been finalized yet. For now, I’m taking a break from acting,” says the actor who was last seen in VM Vinu’s ‘Penpattanam.’ The grand finale of the show will be held in Dubai on April 1.

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