Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rev'erberate! - An Inteview with Revathi Sankkaran

Seeing the multifaceted Revathy Sankkaran on TV is one thing. But nothing prepares you for her warmth and exuberance when you actually meet her.

Ever popped the cork on champagne? That’s her.

So how does one begin to define Revathy? She has modeled for TV commercials including one where she played a nun totally engrossed in munching a chocolate bar! She scripted and produced many radio dramas and short films, has done voice-overs and also sung the title track for a TV serial! She says, “Director K. Balachander calls me his ‘find’ – he brought out all facets of my personality in his TV serials. I’ve acted in four of them – Anni, Kasalavu Nesam, Kadhal Vangi Vandhen and Adutha Veettu Kavidhai.”

With her two sons away in the US, and a very supportive Mr. Sankkaran, Revathy packs in quite a schedule in an average week. Despite this, she does stop to smell the flowers often enough. She says, “I guess I’ve retained the little girl in me – even a kite can make me happy! Glass bangles are my indulgence. And people who know me, are aware that I won’t balk at shaking a leg!”

Has she always been this way? “I celebrate the clown side of my personality and have always been an entertainer. At the age of three, a typical scenario at home was that we would return from a movie, and I would perform the dances for the family. I used to insist that the cook also join the audience, as I didn’t intend putting on the show again separately for her benefit! My two favourite pastimes were climbing trees and riding a bicycle!” she recounts.For sure, this is one lady who doesn’t live her life based on stereotypes!

Post her 60th birthday, Revathy has been anchoring Mangayar Choice, a TV program for women that stands apart for its conversational style and focused content. She is also editor of Mangayar Malar, a womens’ magazine, with her key focus now being to increase circulation without compromising on content. She has also played sutradhar (narrator) in Anitha Rathnam’s programs.

For harikathas, she transforms herself into a character, Sakku Bai, innovatively weaving concepts with song. She says, “As Sakku Bai, I can combine my love for music, dance and story-telling! I love wearing the costume and the jewellery and going on stage!” she says and adds, “The highpoint in life for me was when I performed a harikatha on the life of M.S. Subbulakshmi, in her presence on her 83rd birthday. Imagine my audacity - singing her songs in front of her! When she applauded me and said Sabash, I felt like I had won the Bharat Ratna!”

“Every phase of my life - the translations, the editorship, the TV serials and programs – all these came to me. I believe that if something good comes your way, you must respect it, take it up and give it your best shot. In fact, more than my belief in my ability to so something, if another person shows confidence in me, I go the extra mile.”, she says.

On a more serious note, she says, “After the age of 50, one tends to take things to heart. But what happens is, one’s wise side also becomes stronger. When one is hurt, there’s also a voice telling you that you’ve been through so much earlier, this too shall pass.”

So how does she define life? “Life is like a walk on the beach – there will be some pretty shells, pebbles and also crabs. We have to accept the entire package and be amazed by its wonders every day.”

- After the age of 60, every day is a bonus. Those who think their lifetime is over, and that there is nothing to look forward to, are missing out on so much!
- At this age, we must ensure that we have (a) enough money to live so that we needn’t borrow, (b) a roof above one’s head so that there are no debts, and (c) the ability to live within one’s means. In short, be independent.
- Think like a 40-year old. Meditate and do yoga to maintain yourself.
- Stop living for others - especially your children. They are merely arrows shot through you into this world. Rise above the mindset and go beyond caring only for your family.
- Be like an umbrella. But remember that those who seek your shade, are not yours.
- Think good thoughts for the world. Think of people who are sick – if you can’t spend time with them, at least send up a prayer. Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu (May all have happiness) is not only a motto, it’s a way of life.
- Consider pledging your body to research. This is the ultimate sacrifice. An ego-less life is a life of happiness.
(edited version published on May 26, 2005 in Madras Plus, the city features supplement of The Economic Times, Chennai)

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