Leading cinematographer Ravi Varman is on cloud nine as his work in ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan films has been receiving appreciation from all quarters. With the two magnum opus films turning out to be critical and commercial hits, he recently sat down for an exclusive interview with National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, the Editor-in-Chief of Galatta Plus, and opened up on the making behind several big sequences in the film. Ravi Varman went on to explain the different measures he had taken while filming 'Chiyaan' Vikram's Aditha Karikalan and Jayam Ravi's Arunmozhi Varman war sequences in Ponniyin Selvan.
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Speaking about the steps taken to film the battle scenes of Aditha Karikalan and Arunmozhi Varman characters in Ponniyin Selvan, Ravi Varman said, "There needs to be a different tone for each war sequence. I have been influenced a lot by Akira Kurosawa and I wanted Arunmozhi Varman's war scenes to have that feel - be it the tone or the look. But, Aditha Karikalan's war sequence will be like a portrait. If you observe the camera movements, I shot like I was in the wild akin to moving like an animal. In some shots, it was my overconfidence. I mounted a double camera with two different lenses so that we can use one for wide and the other for the closeup."
Ravi Varman also opened on the instance where he injured his ear during the shooting of Jayam Ravi's war sequence. He said, "I usually don't feel any pain during shooting. One day, while filming an action scene with Jayam Ravi, an extra on the set will be charging at him with a sword and he'll stop him. During the sequence, when he thwarts away the man with the sword, it hit my ear and I got injured. I thought I lost my ear. I heard a long ringing noise in my ear during the shooting and started bleeding. Jayam Ravi only stopped the shoot. If I think about it even today, it scares me. When I went and checked with the doctor, I was told that it was a close call and I could have lost my ear." Ravi Varman continued, "Despite all this, the people who watched the film said that they felt like they are in the war sequence. I had that feeling when I shot the scene similar to how an animal moves around in such a situation. I had to make it seem like there's no clarity, but it should be interesting. The Aditha Karikalan war sequence in the mist in the beginning and Arunmozhi Varman's scene near the seashore, both are different situations and have different tones, and the way the camera breathes during those moments is non-identical. While Vikram's scene is faster, Ravi's sequence will not have much speed."
Watch Ravi Varman in conversation with Baradwaj Rangan in the video below: