Ravi Varma was better known by his stage name Mankada Ravi Varma, was an Indian Malayalam cinematographer and director. He is exclusively known for his association with renowned film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. He has associated with other major directors such as G. Aravindan and P. N. Menon. He has also directed two films. He has won two National Film Awards and seven Kerala State Film Awards in various categories.
Ravi Varma was born at Mankada in Malappuram district to K.K. Thampuratti and A.M. Parameswaran Bhattathiripad on 4 June 1926. Varma was keenly interested in photography since a child. He had his graduation from Victoria College, Palakkad and later learned motion picture photography at the Institute of Film Technology in Chennai.
Ravi Varma died on 22 November 2010 evening in Chennai. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years.
After his studies from FTII, he worked as a cinematographer for several documentaries and short films. His debut film was Aval in 1966, which was directed by Aziz, another student from the institute. His first notable work was Olavum Theeravum in 1970, directed by P. N. Menon and scripted by M. T. Vasudevan Nair. It was a landmark film in Malayalam as it was the first Malayalam film to be shot entirely outdoors. His other notable works as a cinematographer include Dikkatra Parvathi by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Uttarayanam by G. Aravindan, and almost all the works with Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
In 1984, he directed his first film, Nokkukuthi, which won him another National Award and a State award. It was based on a poem by noted Malayalam poet, M Govindan. He also directed Kunjikoonan in 1989. He also wrote a book Chitram Chala Chitram about cinematography which won him the State award for the best book on cinema.