Wikipedia knows it all. Dates. Events. Details. Stories. And Wikipedia says, “He made his directional debut with ‘Photographer’ which turned out to be the biggest commercial failure of 2006. Since then he hasn’t returned to work in the industry either as a screenwriter or director.”
So where did Ranjan Pramod disappear to?
After crafting hits in a row (‘Meesa Madhavan’, ‘Naran’, ‘Manasinakkare’, 'Achuvinte Amma'), did the man cast away his writing pad and disown the blue words that crawled on its pages? Did he pack his bags to move to a new city, where the air smelt different and the language was unknown? Or did he switch to a different profession, did he start writing books, coding programmes or teaching school kids?
Ranjan crosses his legs and makes himself comfortable on the brown couch. Before he begins to talk, he smiles radiating peace, which was probably what he received from his long break. Peace. "I was a workaholic, I never took time to smell flowers, to walk on the beach, or to even look at gorgeous girls," he says.
Before he knew he had done six movies, rather six movies had done him. The silence in between is laced with the fluttering of the pages of ‘Gut Symmetries’, which lies on the coffee table between us. Six is a number which we can associate with him. He did six films consecutively for six years and now it has been six years since we last saw his name emerging on the theatre screen.
The box-office response to his film ‘Photographer’, is not what shattered him.
What shook his beliefs was the fact that his movie failed to communicate what he had nurtured, fed and debated in his mind enough to make a first film of. When Mrinal Sen made ‘Mrigaya’, he chose the best theatre artists to enact as tribals, so did Satyajit Ray when he made ‘Aranyer Din Ratri’. But Ranjan included almost thousand tribals in his movie, the boy who played the lead role, hadn’t seen a television or camera in his lifespan.
For Ranjan, every movie was a Herculean task and this break was like opening the windows to welcome the fresh breeze, the moonlight that sieved in from between the leaves and the stars that glimmered beyond them all. He boarded a train to Kashi, slept on the banks of Ganga. He watched the reflections of the city lights on River Thames from over the London bridge. He crossed boulevards, and stone strewn streets to sip coffee in cosy cafes in Paris.
Ask him, if he took to traveling to find an inspiration or to break free? He says, “I don’t travel to get inspired, I go to places to empty myself. To create a vacuum, so that I can start writing again. In some ways, thinking limits you.”
His thought process cannot fail to amuse you. “People say ‘Meesamadhavan’ is the story of a thief, but for me, it is the story of a guard (Kavalkaran). A petty thief who stays awake all night and safeguards his village,” he says with ease.
You may feel it all comes down to money, but everybody wants a different thing from cinema. The actors, the directors, the audience, everybody has conflicting ideas. So is it luck that decides the fate of a film? Ranjan doesn’t believe so, “There is no art in cinema. Art is in the perspective. The fate of the film mainly depends on how well people can relate to the story, how well they can identify themselves with the characters,” he says.
Ranjan has now decided to follow the KISS principle. Keep It Silly Simple principle. So far, all his films are diverse, apart from the recurring emotional element that an orphan brings along. But he is planning a love story next.
Raised eyebrows at this point.
“Love never loses relevance. Movies influence my personal life. I want positive energy around me and that’s why I'm planning to do a love story next,” he says. Ranjan has not disappeared. He sits on a brown couch, in Room no 301 at the Edassery Mansion, flipping sheets, and making calls to his casting teammates. A phoenix the Malayalam film industry lost or forgot about is rising from the ashes.