Nostalgia in black, white and sepia

Published: 27th June 2013 08:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th June 2013 08:08 AM   |  A+A-

Stills Ravi’s house has a clothesline of photos, both recent shots and old images of yesteryear film personalities. Among those pictures is an arresting image of the late actor and director Manivannan in action, teaching actors Mohan and Nalini in the middle of a scene from the movie Nooravadhu Naal – the very same photograph that Ravi recently put up on his Facebook account after Manivannan’s demise. It’s been more than two years since ‘Stills’ Ravi’s timeless images became popular on Facebook, but the Internet era still feels new, says the famed photographer.

“I started working with Manivannan from his second film, Jyothi, I think,” he reminisces when asked about that photograph. “He used to admire my work. When he became a director, he called me and gave me a break,” he adds.

Ravi and Manivannan collaborated on a number of projects including Anbin Mugaveri, Jallikattu, Nooravathu Naal, Ini Oru Sudhandhiram and others. “The last film I worked with on with him was Jallikattu. His sets were like a picnic. We would come in like long lost friends, hang around for a while - the camaraderie was just amazing,” says Ravi, feeling nostalgic.

His Facebook tributes to Manivannan with rare pictures of the director at work have drawn quite a number of positive responses and reminiscences of Manivannan. His other pictures of actors and film personalities have also been appreciated. Formerly known only in the film circles, the former press photographer credits the social networking site for expanding his horizons. “I would say Facebook is like god. Earlier, there were magazines that wouldn’t publish good photos. Take that photo for instance,” he says and points at one of Rajinikanth’s stills. Only half of the Superstar’s face is seen, the other half is a reflection. “I sent another one of him talking to one of the film’s heroines and the magazine published that. If there was a Facebook back then, my creativity would have been appreciated,” he says.

Ravi, who didn’t want to take up film photography at all but ended up doing more than 500 films, says the era he worked in was a golden time. “The actors these days just aren’t interested,” he says. He recounts an anecdote with actor Vijayakanth. “It was in Kashmir and the climate was freezing. The picture I needed was of him jumping, but since there were no digital cameras those days, we were never sure of our pictures. He kept going for several re-takes. That sort of commitment is missing these days,” he says.

He points at another black and white image of Manivannan. He seems to be sitting on a terrace, with his trademark beard and a towel throw casually across his shoulder. “It was Manivannan who actually encouraged me to take up film photography. He gave me the idea of coming up with photo albums for films, something people rarely did because they were expensive. I will definitely miss him,” Ravi signs off.

India Matters


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