‘MOM’: Ravi Udyawar says, I am really blessed!

He started off as an artist, but has worked extensively in design and advertising. And now Ravi Udyawar is coming out with his first film MOM. SHUBHARNA MUKERJI SHU speaks to the director about his experience and more

The trailer of Mom has had everyone spellbound. While we wait for Sridevi’s next, after her much-loved English Vinglish, to hit the theatres, we decided to grill the debutant director about getting in filmmaking, working with the legendary actress and future plans. Excerpts from the interview.

Being a brand new feature film director, how has the whole MOM experience been like?
Overwhelming. It was such an amazing experience to have these awesome actors coming together, what they have each done for the film is phenomenal. Ma’am (Sridevi, who plays the protagonist in the film) has done over 300 films and this is my first! You cannot imagine what this means to me. Then there is Nawazuddin (Siddique) who has been a part of such fabulous films but has never really altered himself to such an extent. The way he looks in the film, there are so many who have told me that they didn’t recognise Nawaz when they first saw the trailer. I really have so much to be thankful for…

Look at Akshaye Khanna, this is like his comeback vehicle, he is such a marvellous actor and in this film you will see him as someone you never thought he could be! The energy, the rage he has brought into this film sets was terrific. I am really blessed.

All the actors you have mentioned are seasoned and already established in their field. You just told me that it was an overwhelming experience making this film, did it hamper with your director status – a director being the person who has to know everything about everything?
It might have been difficult had I not been someone who is a stickler for details. If you are the person who has to know every detail, the questions they might ask come to you naturally cause you yourself have already done the asking. At any given time, for any given moment in the film I knew exactly why the dialogue is said in such a way, I know why the characters are behaving so, I know the very depth of each and every character. I am a visual director, even when I am thinking about a scene, I detail it till what time of the day would it be, what kind of light would there be…these details might not mean anything to anyone but it was something I needed to work with…

You have people like Sridevi reporting on the sets… What was the energy like when she was facing the camera? How difficult was it, or was it fun morphing her into your vision?
It was fun all the way, the first day Ma’am walked onto the sets we were to do a family scene. We had done a lot of reading earlier but never with the actors because somehow I feel spontaneity goes off with too much rehearsals. Sejal (Ali) had never met Ma’am before but the second they were on the sets the way they started interacting one would have thought they were family. Their chemistry was fabulous.

What was the toughest art dealing with the legendary actors or the new ones, especially the small kid who is a part of the film….
There are many actors in this film, a lot of seasoned actors are playing secondary parts each important but what I liked most was that each of them have synchronised so beautifully with their characters. The tone of the characters from the first frame to the last frame is constant. Everyone was meshed into the film, as if they were the characters! I have each of them to thank for how the film has turned out. I, of course, want to thank my Producer too… he is such a director’s producer.

From being a Gold medallist in art to doing your first feature film, it might have been a long journey…
It has been a very long journey from being an artist to a graphic designer, to being an ad filmmaker and now this. I have learnt everything on the job. It was very gratifying to know that my producers had seen my work and appreciated it, knowing well of course that advertising is a whole different thing than making a film. The format is longer, you have to showcase a lot of things… but the faith people have invested in me was beautiful.

Which was the toughest scene to director?
When you are filming, there is no chronological order we follow, we have a lot of things to consider the availability of the location, the actor… the lights even. We have to sometimes shoot the middle portion first, then go back to the first part… then shoot the end. It is not easy to keep the emotion linear when you are jumbling back and forth, that was tough but otherwise there was no particular scene which was tough.

Since you are an artist, I have to ask you…  what colour do you associate with your MOM experience?
Red! It is my colour for everything right not, and it is right in the middle of MOM!

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