Theatre and film actor Ravindra Vijay chats about the challenges of playing an intelligence officer in the recently-released The Family Man 2
Ravindra Vijay’s phone has been ringing incessantly since The Family Man season 2 released on Amazon Prime. His portrayal of Muthu Pandian, an intelligence officer based in Chennai, with style, attitude and quick retorts, has won him several fans.
“The way the character was written has clicked with many,” says Ravindra Vijay. “The manner in which he straddles between two languages, Tamil and Hindi, and the way he manages two varied perspectives, as both an insider as well as an outsider, made the role challenging.”
This Bengaluru-based 35-year old medical graduate has been pursuing his acting professionally since 2011. His recent films include Anbirkiniyal, Dharala Prabhu (Tamil) and Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (Telugu). “Right from my school days, I was involved in theatre. While pursuing my medical course, I came across information in ‘The Hindu MetroPlus’ about Rafiki, a Bengaluru-based theatre group, calling for auditions. I joined them part-time.”
A few years later, he visited to Chennai, when Rafiki and the Chennai-based Perch Theatre collaborated for a production, titled, Ms. Meena, directed by Rajiv Krishnan. . “My most recent theatre project was with Kira Kulambu (script based on late Ki. Rajanarayanan’s collection of folktales, Nattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam) , by Perch Theatre, and the play had just three actors and a wooden bench as prop. The 100th performance was in February 2020, at Puducherry which was graced by Ki. Rajanarayanan himself,” he adds.
Ravindra speaks Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and English fluently, and can even manage a little Urdu. “Being a Tamilian raised in Bengaluru, I had the chance to learn multiple languages. While I was working in a hospital, this proved to be an advantage as I could talk to patients in whichever language they were familiar with.”
The writer of The Family Man, Suman Kumar’s wife was Ravindra’s senior at college and the trio were friends. Suman would often discuss work and once mentioned that he was in the process of writing a web series. “He told me about a character he had written, which he thought would suit me,” Ravindra says. “ When the audition for season 2 was happening, Suman requested me to participate and, based on my performance, I was selected to play the role of Muthu Pandian. The shooting took place in Chennai for about a month in 2019; we wrapped before the pandemic broke out.”
Post its release, Muthu Pandian is among the talking points among fans. “While I was performing, I did not realise that this bridging role would have this much prominence or even garner this much attention. Having a seasoned artist such as Manoj Bajpayee motivated me to give my best. We would rehearse every scene before the take. Manoj would completely transform into the character of Srikanth Tiwari once the shot was ready. Just watching him itself was a learning experience to all of his co-actors,” says Ravindra.
One of the challenges, he says, was seamlessly switching between languages. “It had to sound like I was at ease talking in Tamil, switch to English for official communication and communicate in Hindi with my Mumbai counterparts. In real life, I speak better Hindi but in The Family Man, I had to talk in such a manner as though I knew the language but was not too fluent.”
Ravindra is also looking at playing more roles in Telugu cinema. “Ever since my performance in Uma Maheswara….I have been getting offers in Telugu cinema to play the antagonist role. In Telugu film, Ishq: Not a love story, I play a bad cop. I have another negative role in Kinnerasani.”
The actor has bagged a role in the yet-to-be-titled film starring Pawan Kalyan and Rana Daggubati and has also featured in the crossover film, Footprint on Water, starring Adhil Hussain.
So what happens medical career now that he has proved his mettle as an actor? “It has been 10 years since I moved out of the medical profession to concentrate on my acting career, which is where my passion lies,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “But my parents still believe that I will one day return to my medical profession.”