The trailer of the recently released psychological thriller, Ratsasan, has dialogues like, “Claps and compliments are the two things that motivate artists and keep them alive,” But Saravanan, the actor who played the mysterious and menacing Christopher and Mary Fernandez in the film, had to wait for more than three weeks after the film’s release before facing the limelight. The identity of the actor was kept hidden by the makers to kindle the curiosity of the audience over the character, and they finally revealed it on Tuesday at an exclusive event.
Hailing from a small village in Trichy, Saravanan has fought his way to stardom after being part of the industry as a background actor for more than fifteen years. His first significant break was through Vijay Antony’s Naan, in which he played the role of the real Salim. Talking about his opportunity to work in Ratsasan in an exclusive interview with us, he says, “After Mundasupatti’s success, I really wanted to work with Ramkumar sir in his next. Even though a lot of actors in his crew like Munishkanth and Kaali Venkat are my friends, I didn’t get the chance easily. The director auditioned me only after he was convinced that I matched the criteria he had in mind, like a tall and lean build, and fair complexion.”
While shooting the film, he was unaware that his identity would be kept a secret. “Honestly speaking, the first two days after the release were very emotionally draining. I went to a lot of theatres to see whether the audience liked my performance. After a few days, I began to enjoy the fact that people were scared of my character and curious to know my identity. It’s a rare kind of compliment that I couldn’t have achieved if I were a well-known face. I completely trusted the director’s decision and waited patiently for this day. The applause from all directions shows that my hard work has paid off.”
Saravanan played two extremely demanding characters with multiple layers in Ratsasan. He says he was challenged in every aspect as an actor. “I am extremely happy and proud that I was able to do justice to the role. As an actor, I couldn’t have asked for more to make a breakthrough. I had to lose weight, sport heavy prosthetics, and shave my head to look the part. Apart from that, I had to master the body language of an aged Anglo-Indian woman and a progeria patient. I also got trained by professional magicians and the stunt choreographer for the magic and fight sequences. The director gave me all the inputs necessary to deliver a subtle yet strong performance. To be honest, I found it hard to get out of the character after the shooting.”
The actor goes on to add that the transformation he went through for the film took a heavy toll on his physical and mental health. “I had to shed a lot of kilos for the role, I took unhealthy shortcuts like drinking tamarind water on an empty stomach to speed up the process. I had to do the magic and fight sequences with style, while I was barely able to stand up. It was a huge challenge. But whenever I felt drained or suffered from the after-effects of the role like joint pain or emotional trauma, I told to myself that if I could pull this role off perfectly, I would make a mark and stay in the industry, and treated it as a do-or-die role,” he says, adding that seeing the rest of the team work with all their heart and soul really kept him motivated during the hard days.
Saravanan, who dedicates his success to his wife Ramya and daughter Viba, wants the audience to refer to him as a capable actor like Nasser and Charlie. “I grew up admiring these two actors. Seeing them successfully pull off versatile characters always inspired me. I want to be known as an actor, rather than being typecast as a villain, hero or comedian.”