She has her roots in Kerala and speaks chaste Malayalam, but prodding Revathy S Varma for a burst of nostalgia will be a futile exercise. The ad woman-turned-filmmaker attributes her Mollywood entry to nothing but her unending romance with cinema. “When I was ten I declared before my family that I want to be a filmmaker and at 14 I got my first RAPA award for the baseline of a campaign. I started my career at 16,” says Revathy who is busy wrapping up the shoot of her Mollywood debut ‘Mad Dad’.
Revathy, whose first film ‘June R’ dealt with the atypical subject of adopting a mother, analyses the realm of father-daughter relationship in ‘Mad Dad’. “The combination is something that has rarely been explored on screen. ‘Mad Dad’ is a downright entertainer with the right blend of humour and sentiments, and yes, it’s a commercially inclined project,” says Revathy.
Lal and anchor-turned-actress Nazriya play the lead roles along with a slew of stars including Meghna Raj, Padmapriya, Pooja Gandhi, Sreejith Vijay, Lalu Alex, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Shari and Kovai Sarala. “The soul-stirring melodies will be another USP of the film which is a musical featuring seven songs,” she adds.
Revathy, who has done 480 commercials, is one of the A-listers in ad film circuits. She also has a string of big brands and successful campaigns to her credit including Malabar Gold, Nakshatra, Siyaram, Rexona, Hamam and Happy Jam. “There are people who believe ad film making is an easy first step towards 70 mm. It’s a very wrong notion as ads make the backbone of a brand or product. Only mature and expert hands would be able to bear such pressure and responsibility,” she says.
Revathy says movies leave enough breathing space compared to commercials that are counted in seconds.
“Ads should have the x-factor to hook the viewer for a fraction of second while swapping the channels,” she says. For her ad film making is a thrilling and enterprising affair and she plans to re-enter the field at the earliest. “From the initial brainstorming session to the final cut, each stage is a tightrope walk. You are creating the face of a brand and it’s a very risky affair,” she adds.
After entering tinsel town through Tamil Revathy spread her wings to other industries as well and ‘Mad Dad’ is her sixth feature film. She has done a Sri Lankan film, two Telugu films and a Bollywood film - the Hindi remake of ‘June R’ titled ‘Aap Ke Liye Hum’ starring Jaya Bachchan, Ayesha Takia, Raveena Tandon and R Madhavan. Her Sri Lankan film ‘Yasoda Kanna’ drew much vitriol for its strong political angle.
“The film stresses the need to form a South-Asian solidarity and clearly indicates the reasons for the internal turbulence. During that time I faced a lot of problems and the film was banned,” she says. From there she went straight to Tollywood mainstream. “I did two out-and-out commercial films there just to break the myth that female filmmakers can only make offbeat films.”
Since she has a hands-on experience with other industries Revathy finds Mollywood a not-so-comfortable place in comparison. “Entering an essentially gendered space comes with its own set of hitches. I think Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad are more open in terms of accepting a woman behind the camera,” she winds up.