The Star Behind The Show – A Chat With Edavela Babu

In conversation with the multi- talented actor and event planner Edavela Babu

He has been a part of Malayalam Cinema for more than three decades. Through his many roles as a hero, villain, comedian and a supporting actor, he has become an indispensable part of Mollywood. He has been the secretary of AMMA (Association for Malayalam Movie Artists) for 18 years now and over the years, he has also donned the role of a seasoned event planner! He has been the mastermind behind popular shows like the Asianet Film Awards, Amrita Film awards, Surya Film awards, Mazhavillazhakil AMMA, Gulf Malayalam Music Awards (GMMA) and several AMMA Shows to name a few. RITZ is in conversation with the multi- talented actor and event planner, Edavela Babu, who talks of his journey.

Interview: Riya Sonny Datson

You started acting at a very young age. Looking back, how has your journey been as an actor?
My first film was ‘Edavela’ which was released in 1982. There were four main characters in the movie and I was the hero. Ever since then, the name ‘Edavela’ stuck to me. No one else in the film industry has that name. I had not completed college back then and my parents were insistent on my finishing a degree. So during that phase, I did dubbing for other artists and took a break from acting. But I through the years, I have always been a part of the films and the industry I have done over 200 films till date.

You have held the post of Secretary of AMMA for the last 18 years ever since its inception. How do you handle the odds that come with the post?
Yes, I have been lucky enough to hold that post for so long. It is not easy to handle the responsibilities that come with it as you have to handle so many stars. But one has to be humble, patient and diplomatic no matter what the situation. It is very important to maintain a cordial relationship with everyone. Being a patient listener helps! If you respect and care for others, eventually, others will reciprocate the same. I think being a chronic bachelor also helps as I don’t have to face tensions at home! (laughs) My life completely revolves around Cinema and event management and I absolutely enjoy what I am doing.

You are the mastermind behind award shows held in Kerala and abroad. What is the secret behind the success of your shows?

Over the last 30 years, I have worked hard to build relationships in the industry that involves a lot of faith and trust in me and my work. I am very particular about maintaining relationships, be it clients, vendors or artists and I make it a point to stick to my word especially when it comes to deliverables or payments. I always get the best professionals to handle every show. The most important point about planning a show would be to work backwards. Once you have a clear picture of the final product, work backwards. That is my motto. Also as you plan, you have to see the show through the eyes of the audience. The minute you feel a program is boring or there is a lag, you have to make changes. I never delegate my responsibilities so as to avoid miscommunication. I think in the end, your hard work and perseverance always pays!

Which is the biggest show you have handled till date?
In terms of cost, a few years ago, I had organised a show for Deepika In Focus to honour superstar Mohanlal who had completed 25 years in Cinema called ‘Priyapetta Mohanlal 25 Vayassu’. The cost of the show came upto 1 crore 60 lakh which was a huge amount back then and yes, the show was a grand success to say the least. The last show hosted by AMMA, that was directed by director Siddique and managed by me had featured a stage that was 240ft…I think it was the biggest stage Kerala has ever seen. The show went on for 8.5
hours!

How do you prepare for a show?
There is a lot of home work that goes into each show. Every show throws up a new challenge and you can never be fully prepared. I watch a lot of videos of similar shows and try to draw inspiration from them. A lot of planning and rehearsals go into every piece of work.

How do you handle the stress amidst it all?
If you plan well, half your problems are sorted. I have learnt that no matter what the situation, you have to stay calm. Thankfully, I have built strong relationships in the industry and outside that I cherish. So at any point, if I need help, I can always depend on friends and colleagues. It has reached a point where I enjoy even the stress.

What are the main hurdles that you face while hosting shows in Kerala?
Of late, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a venue in Kerala to host large format events. We also have time restrictions for public events as we are not allowed to host events past 10pm. When it comes to music, there is also the issue of royalty and copyright now. There are a lot of permissions required to play music at a show and the charges can be very high as well.

Inspite of hurdles, what is the one thing that inspires you to take up more events?
The thrill and the excitement of doing a show! It is very much like making a film. Each time you create new content. No two events are the same and the satisfaction that you get out of doing a great show is beyond words.

Apart from handling film award nights, you have also handled the famous fashion events…
There was a year when I handled 8 award events in a row. It had become so monotonous that I felt I really needed to try something different. That’s when we got into the KFL or Kerala fashion league. I handled the 4 th and 5 th edition of the show. The latest edition was very different from the previous ones. We had a lot of innovative rounds with top designers and an exclusive fashion round with models who were married as well as with transgenders. The show was a big hit and was telecasted in the Flowers channel. We also launched the Indian Fashion league (IFL) and brought the concept of Mrs. Global to Kerala. The show had 25 married women participants from across the globe who were
groomed and trained for 10 days before the show, which was held at CIAL. It was a great experience for us as well as the participants.

What’s next?
I just finished the show for Asianet film awards which will soon be aired. We have some interesting fusion ideas in the pipeline for the next edition of Kerala Fashion League (KFL). We will soon start working on the same.