Ravi Kinagi is a Pan-Indian director in every sense though he does not wear it on his sleeve. He is a South Indian by birth and upbringing, and shifted to Mumbai to work with Rajshri Films when they were making Paheli, Naiyya and Kanoon Ka Shikar. He then directed two Marathi films, Manuskiand Halahal.
His next journey was to Odisha where he made films in Odia language. But his final destiny was rooted in mainstream Bengali cinema and once he came to Kolkata, the story of his life began to be rewritten. He talks about his latest film Jio Pagla with a grand array of commercially successful stars.
Have you ever trained in filmmaking in general and direction in particular?
I began as an assistant in our home production in Hindi where I learnt the basics of filmmaking from my father Sri Shankar Kinagi who was an established producer and director. I then assisted S Ramanathan who had made films like Mahaan and Bombay to Goa and also the late Anil Ganguly who had directed the bit hit of Rajshri films Tapasya. At Rajshri, I assisted Prashant Nanda in some films and then shifted to Odisha to make Odia films. After my father and the people I assisted, experience has been my best teacher till date.
It is said that your Odia film Manini was the first Silver Jubilee film in Odisha?
Yes, an eminent producer of Odia films, Batakrishna Nayak noticed my sincerity and hard work and gave me my first break as an independent director and as it became a Silver Jubilee hit, there has been no looking back for me. My team in Bengali cinema has been very supportive and my move to Bengali cinema has been the turning point of my life.
Which directorial films of yours would you count among the top five favourites and why?
It’s difficult to choose few good from your labour of pain and dedication. It is like asking a mother to choose a favourite amongst her children…But let me try. Bandhan and Paran Jaye Joliya Re were total family entertainers promoting family values; Joshand Awara were spilling over with masala and entertainment; Jamai 420 was a comedy in every sense and full of fun; but above all, I would like to wave the flag for Jio Pagla because I am sure the audience will have a blast watching this film.
Do you have any formula that makes every film of yours a hit?
I pour my heart and soul into any film that I am working on at a given time and if you want to call that a ‘formula’ I think it is this contribution that turns the film into a hit. There is never any formula for making a hit. If there had been any, everyone would have learnt that formula and there would never be a flop. One thing is sure – you must love the job you do.and put all your efforts sincerely and you will not go wrong….
You have directed films in Hindi (Rajashri films),Marathi, Odia and Bengali. Why this shifting and moving from one language to another which also means a shifting in terms of geography, language and culture?
I have done Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Bengali and also Gujarati and Tulu movies as assistant director and independent director…The shifting came naturally because I was always a sincer and hard working assistant. People noticed me and invited me to do their movies. I loved doing films in different languages and got the opportunity to learn different cultures. Let me tell you, I can speak seven languages — Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Odia, Bengali and Kannada (my mother tongue).
Perhaps for the first time you are placing on celluloid the film version of a famous play Joi Maa Kali Boarding. What motivated you to make this play into a film?
I had heard about the play and it was in the back of my mind. One day, I happened to narrate the idea to my producer and he readily agreed. From the very next day I was busy writing the script. It is one of the most hilarious and best scripts I have ever written. Joy Maa Kali Boarding is a very popular play which probably every family in Bengal knows about. The audience will have a gala time watching the film, enjoying and laughing their hearts out.
How have you contextualised the play to fit it in a modern Bengali setting because approach and interpretations of comedy have changed since it was first staged with Bhanu Bandopadhyay?
Joy Maa Kali Boarding is a very old play. I have made necessary changes kepping in mind today’s time setting, sensibilities and so on but the essence and humour remain the same. It is the same tok jhaal mishti in a new packaging.
Jio Pagla is an out-and-out, full-blown comedy with youngsters crowding the scene. How do you as a distinctive director,define “comedy” in cinema?
People today are burdened with problems, stress and a hectic schedule. They do not have time to relax and enjoy life. Like our body needs detoxification so our mind needs distressing. Comedy in cinema works as a medicine for the stressed and gives entertainment to the mass and the class.
You have handled several young couples at the same time. What kind of briefing did you give them considering that you have worked almost with all of them?
One should be hard working, dedicated, focused and believe in oneself, I always advise the new generation to keep trying until they succeed. I have worked with almost all the artists in this industry. As I am strict, disciplined and dedicated, I expect the same from my artists and they understand this that they must be sincere and dedicated in their performance. People give me credit for extracting good work from my artists and in fact, I have seen that it is always hard work that brings out the best in them. While choosing any artist for any film, I keep in mind the characters before I choose which actor will suit a given character. I have done the same for this film too and you will find that every actor has done justice to the character he or she is performing.