Chennai: Having donned different roles as an actor, writer and director in his over two-decade-old journey in southern cinema, multi-faceted veteran Ramesh Aravind feels that there's nothing more "rewarding" than an actor's job, but that direction is a "satisfying" creative process.
"I find acting more rewarding. It might not be in terms of monetary benefits, but generally the success you enjoy as an actor is bigger than anything else. I don't think anything can replace the success you derive out of being an actor," Ramesh told in an interview.
"Direction is a creative process. It gives wings to your creativity. It allows you to create a world you might not envision as an actor. A director can make a flower look different on screen, add the colour he likes the most to his creation, and nobody will ask questions," he said.
Those who like to get "creatively high" should direct, said Ramesh, who finds writing as a "very lonely job that needs a lot of patience".
Ramesh, who made his directorial debut with 2005 Kannada blockbuster 'Rama Shama Bhama', is currently busy with the post-production work of his upcoming Tamil directorial 'Uttama Villain'.
Incidentally, both the films feature Kamal Haasan, who has also worked with Ramesh in several memorable movies such as 'Sati Leelavathi', 'Panchathantiram' and 'Mumbai Express'.
Kamal is "more than a friend, he's mostly a guide and a mentor," said Ramesh and added: "We bond because we share the same sensibilities on various things in life. It's easier to build relationship with a person when you share same ideologies and tastes."
Soon after 'Rama Shama Bhama', Kamal and Ramesh were to "collaborate for a Hindi film, but it never materialised".
"We wanted to do a Tamil film too. But our idea to collaborate never really happened. Last March, Kamal sir asked me to direct 'Uttama Villain'. I stopped everything I was doing in Kannada because I wanted to concentrate on this project. I felt I needed a big leap in my career at this point," he said.
'Uttama Villain' is "extremely different" from Kamal's 'Vishwaroopam'.
"It has a lot of emotional content. The best part is that it has a very profound message which attracted me to it," he added.
For Tamil film audiences, 'Uttama Villain' is a special film as it reunites Ramesh and Kamal with their mentor and filmmaker K. Balachander, who had introduced both of them many years ago.
"Kamal was very keen that we should only cast Balachander for the role because he felt only he could naturally fit in it. When you watch the film, you realise nobody else could do the role besides KB sir," he said.
Kamal plays Balachander's disciple in the film, which also features legendary filmmaker K. Vishwanath in an important role.
"Had we cast someone else, then we would have had to include a few more scenes to establish the master-disciple relationship. We wanted to avoid all that because there are certain advantages and a liberty when you cast certain people together," he added.
Ramesh hopes 'Uttama Villain', which is expected to come out in 10 weeks, makes them "proud".
"After wrapping up the film, I sent a message to my crew. I told them that we've made a film we can be proud of, and I'm confident about it," he said.
As a director, Ramesh has made commercially successful ventures, but he feels "the recovery of initial investment in a project is critical. If the film makes more money, it's an added bonus."
On other fronts, Ramesh is currently hosting TV chat show 'Weekend with Ramesh' and he enjoys it thoroughly.
"It gives me an opportunity to be myself. I don't have to be any of the characters I play in my films."