RaktaCharitra -1


This is the name of the film I am intending to make as my next after India 24/7.
It
’s inspired by the story of Paritala Ravi from Andhra Pradesh who got assassinated in January 2005. Even though the actual incidents of the story happened and the related characters existed in south India, I decided to make it in Hindi because I strongly felt that the sheer uniqueness of the story deserves to be told to a much wider audience.
Paritala Ravi was arguably the most feared individual ever in the history of the blood-ridden faction politics of South India. He was a prime accused in innumerable murder cases and also survived numerous assassination attempts, the most brutal of which happened on a quiet Friday afternoon in November 1997 when a road near Rama Naidu Studio in Hyderabad was turned into a death field by a bomb which killed 26 people but failed to get its intended target Ravi.
I, in the course of my life have read biographies of various people and have also come to know through various sources the life stories of many highly dangerous men including that of Velupalli Prabhakaran the LTTE Chief to Pablo Escobar the Columbian drug lord to our very own Dawood Ibrahim but all those stories pale in comparison to Ravi’s life story.
How Ravi, a soft-spoken shy guy under a force of certain circumstances retreated into the jungles, became a rebel and how he mounted a volcano of violence to avenge his father’s and brother’s deaths and how in time he became a folklore legend and eventually a minister in N.T.Ramarao’s Cabinet reads more grippingly than any fiction writer anywhere in the world can ever imagine.
Ravi’s name sent shivers up the spines of not only his rivals but even the law enforcement agencies. He was a rebel, a feudal lord, a robin hood, a killer of hundreds and saviour of thousands till the day he was gunned down by a death squad allegedly put together by his arch rival Suri who wanted to avenge his father’s and brother’s deaths, in a bizarre déjà vu.
I have been following Ravi’s rise to power since long, but I first heard of Suri only after the bomb explosion at Rama Naidu Studios. I was both amazed and chilled to see that even after being confined to a prison cell, how the fire of Suri’s vengeance continued to burn unabated for 7 long years till he finally succeeded, armed with nothing but a severe desire to kill Ravi as his one and only weapon.
In my research for the film I have met various associates of Paritala Ravi and Suri and also their family members. I have also met Suri who is presently lodged in Anantpur jail on trial for the killing of Ravi and what I finally managed to piece together from all the various police records and eye witness accounts is the most fascinating story I have ever heard or could hope to hear in my life. This is the story of a man’s phenomenal rise to power and a story of the most intense blood curdling conflict ever heard of between 2 individuals and it is also the ultimate statement on the oft heard disastrous consequences of a fatal mixture of caste, crime, family feuds and politics.
I decided to film this story at one stretch and release it in 2 parts about 3 months from each other, a first of its kind ever attempted in the history of Indian cinema. I want to call the films Rakta Charitra- I and Rakta Charitra-II. Why I want to make it in 2 parts is because, the sheer drama and content the story possesses is so incredibly rich and of such high magnitude that it is not possible to do justice to do it in a film which is lesser than 5 hours. Also Ravi’s life can be broadly divided into 2 parts from the time how circumstances created his rise to how he created circumstances that felled him.
I believe that Rakta Charitra is going to be the most defining film of my career not because of how well I will make it but sheerly because of the material I have at my hand. To put it simply I don’t have to work hard to make it well but I have to work hard to spoil it.


The search for Paritala Ravi
After thinking hard on every actor both known and unknown I have finally zeroed in on Vivek Oberoi as the most ideal choice to play Paritala Ravi. He has remarkable intensity in his eyes which I noticed in the making of Company, a voice which commands attention, an arrogance in his demeanour, an enormous power in his stance, and also a certain vulnerability which makes one instantly warm up to him, which is what is needed to fit in a role of Paritala Ravi’s profile.
After a rough look-test done and when I saw the approximation of how Vivek could look like in different phases of Ravi’s life, from being a rebel in the jungles to a political strong-arm man, I was absolutely convinced that my search ended.

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