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“As a kid, I saved my stories for a career”

Ravi Shankar, who is making his debut as a writer with Bhoot Returnstalks to us about his break…

Background

As a seven-year-old, I used to get a kick out of reading the names of the latest films and their cast in the morning newspaper. I remember while watching Ghar Jamai which released in 1992, starring Mithun Chakraborty, Varsha Usgaonkar, Kader Khan, Prem Chopra, Rita Bhaduri, and little Ravi would smile. I would stare at billboards with film posters. I was mathematically challenged but I had a way with words.

When my father, in consultation with my mother and brother, looked at my mathematics marks in the board exams and asked me if I wanted a career in science.

I thought he was kidding or being sarcastic. But he was serious! I replied, ‘No way dad!’ So I chose Arts. It was the second-best decision of my life. The first best decision was to be an introvert. When other kids my age were busy boasting with their imaginary stories, I saved my words for a career in it. I inadvertently became a listener. I saved up stories to tell. I observed other kids as little monsters.

Initial Days

After graduating, I enrolled for a Mass Media course at RD National College in Mumbai and specialised in Advertising. After a stint at RJing, marketing, general entertainment channel slogging and FTII quitting, I chose to assist Jayaraaj, my all-time favourite director from my native land, Kerala. The inability to read the Malayalam script was a problem. I had to shoot the day’s scenes, return to the hotel and write them in English. And voila! At the end of the schedule, I had my own version of the original screenplay. This was followed by a long stint at Fox Television Studios and then a brief stint at Sahara Motion Pictures as a script supervisor. By consuming scripts, day in and day out, I learnt what to do and what not to do in a script.

First Big Break

In October 2011, a friend introduced me to Ram Gopal Varma. Before I knew it, I was writing a film (not Bhoot Returns) for the genius behind Shiva, Raat, Rangeela, Satya, Kaun, Company, Bhoot and Sarkar.

Bhoot RETURNS

When the script was almost complete (I was still reeling from the shock of writing for RGV!) I receive a text from him with an address to a bungalow. The visit to the ‘weird energy’ bungalow finishes with some well-timed information from him that the bungalow I had just visited might be haunted. He then offered me Bhoot Returns – the double whammy being it’s also Manisha Koirala’s comeback. Based on an idea given by RGV, I wrote most of the terrifying scenes sitting at the eeriest spot in that bungalow – the attic. After frequent consultations with RGV, the script was finalised and shot at that very bungalow. The house, standout performances by the lead actors, 3D and, of course, RGV’s direction have taken the script to greater heights. We hope the audience laps it up just the way they did Bhoot.

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