Reba Monica John, the actor who primarily works in Malayalam and Tamil cinema, is gearing up for her first Kannada release, Rathnan Prapancha. The film is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday and the actor says her character in it is a “beautifully written one” that takes the entire plot forward.
She stars opposite actor Dhananjay, who got his breakthrough playing the antagonist Daali in Tagaru (2018). Rathnan Prapancha is directed by Rohit Padaki and produced by Karthik and Yogi G Raj.
According to the makers, the film is the emotional yet amusing journey of Ratnakara (Dhananjay), who sets out on a quest to find his roots while working through the perils of his current life. In this journey, he is accompanied by Mayuri (Reba), a journalist who is trying to break a never-before-told story.
In conversation with Silverscreen India, Reba says Mayuri is “very pro-active, someone who wants to make a mark for herself and get breaking news.”
“She is always on the lookout for news, and she chances upon Ratnakara. He has a story and she wants to help him but also has her personal agenda of wanting to break the story. However, during this journey, she realises that she is emotionally involved and what happens in the journey forms the rest of the plot,” the actor adds.
Reba notes that she could relate to Mayuri, with whom she shares many characteristics. “Like her, I am also extremely focused, pro-active and always plan for things, for the future. So those I was easily able to portray. Understanding Mayuri was not difficult. On the other hand, being a journalist is something I honestly don’t know anything about – the work, the mannerisms, the behaviour of someone in that field. So I sat with my director and worked on it. I also tried to understand her journey.”
Rathnan Prapancha translates to Rathnan’s world, which makes it seem like a film that revolves primarily around the male protagonist. Asked how much of an impact her character has in that world, Reba points to a line from the trailer that goes, “My life was settling down and right then, a girl came into my life.” The actor adds, “His journey and revelation begin with Mayuri; she initiates the entire thing. Initially upset, he then realises how crucial a step it was and how much his very personality could change as a result of it. Everything starts off with her and she takes the plot forward. It is a beautifully written character from whom the entire plot begins to unfold.”
Born to a Malayali family in Bengaluru, Reba was brought up in the same city, but is only just making her debut in Kannada through Rathnan Prapancha.
The actor, who has predominantly worked in the Malayalam and Tamil film industries, feels there has been a “sudden drastic change” in Kannada cinema in the past 4-5 years. “Amazing content is coming from the Kannada industry and especially with OTT boom, there is an opportunity for people from everywhere to view these films.”
Her first project in the language, Sakalakala Vallabha, is still awaiting release.
Reba notes that she was looking for “something that really moved” her and was waiting for the right project with which to dip her toes into the Kannada industry when Sakalakala Vallabha happened. “I had thought of maybe not doing anything else in Kannada until its release. But all that changed when Rohit [Padaki, director of Rathnan Prapancha] narrated this script to me. Above all, it was the character that made me say yes to this film. I had a feeling that this would work.”
The actor mentions that she does not have a language barrier anymore. “Despite being a Malayali, I have done more Tamil films and am comfortable with the industry there. But that apart, one of the things to be grateful for with the pandemic is the OTT boom, thanks to which people can watch content from other languages. For example, the Malayalam industry has broken out and many from other regions have started to watch Malayalam content,” Reba points out.
The actor, who has been part of the film industry for six years now since her debut Jacobinte Swargarajyam (2016), says the biggest draw for her is the ability to connect with the “soul and emotions” of the audience. Revealing that she is partial to emotional drama as a genre, Reba says, “I did Bigil and it was an emotional one. So was my debut film, which was about family relations. I think that genre is something that I prefer. People can relate to honest emotions.”
Reba’s future projects include the Tamil web series Akash Vaani, alongside actor Kavin, the Tamil-Telugu bilingual multi-starrer October 31st Ladies Night directed by filmmaker Vijay, and the action thriller FIR.
“October 31st Ladies Night is in a genre that I have never tried – horror. I absolutely enjoy horror though. The release of FIR is stuck due to the Covid-19 situation but it will be out soon. And Akash Vaani is a sweet rom-com that people can connect to,” Reba says as she signs off.