Throughout the interview, there wasn’t a single moment when R.L.V. Ramakrishnan, the brother of late actor Kalabhavan Mani, didn’t mention his brother’s name. Whenever he takes a decision in his life, he keeps his brother in his mind. Be it his decision to act in the movie Theeta Rappai or get a doctorate in Mohiniyattam, everything was done for his brother.
Directed by Vinu Ramakrishnan, the movie is based on the life of Theetta Rappai, a competitive eater. Vinu, who has worked as associate of director Vinayan, had a clear idea about Kalabhavan Mani. “Chettan (Mani) had listened to the story. They had been waiting for his date,” says Ramakrishnan.
Vinu noticed Ramakrishnan when he came out in public after the demise of Mani. But he didn’t discuss it with Ramakrishnan as it was the mourning period for them.
“It was six months ago that he told me about it. It was a story written for chettan. I could see him in that role while listening to the script and I was in tears. So, I decided to take it up.”
But Ramakrishnan knows it’s not an easy task. His brother had carved a niche among the audience. “I am nervous,” he says. “Even after two years, he still lives in people’s minds. My stepping stone is the name he has earned. People like me and want me to venture into acting and singing because of him. That makes me more responsible.”
Ramakrishnan has put on weight for the character and started learning his brother’s mannerisms. “I want to do each scene keeping him in mind. They are going to fix gums above the teeth, so it is a tad difficult to deliver dialogues. It is a bit painful, but nothing compared to what my brother endured for his characters in movies like Karumadikuttan and Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njaanum.”
A Mohiniyattam performer, choreographer and researcher, cinema has never been in the priority list of Ramakrishnan, though he has acted in a few movies. “I don’t think cinema makes an artiste’s life complete. But only the lucky ones reach there. I have acted in Masanagudi Mannadiyar Speaking, Quotation and Bamboo Boys. But cinema has never been a craze for me.”
Ramakrishnan focused on Mohiniyattam and studied as much as he could. “My aim was to secure a doctorate for him. So, I concentrated on that. I never thought fate would snatch him so quickly from us.”
It is rare that men choose Mohiniyattam. “As a child, I would dance to the songs played on the radio. Seeing this, R.L.V. Anand sir taught me dancing for free. Though I joined Kunjikuttan Thampuran College for science, I couldn’t stay there as dance had conquered my mind. I left the college and joined R.L.V. College, Tripunithura. I was interested in Kathakali, however, I couldn’t afford it. Hence, chose Mohiniyattam, another traditional Kerala art form,” says Ramakrishnan, who finds new ways in it.