Directing the mentor

Directing the mentor
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Directing the mentor. For Rajesh M Selva, director of superstar Kamal Haasan-starrer ‘Cheekati Rajyam’, the thought of wielding the megaphone for a project never crossed his mind. “I began my career as Kamal sir’s third assistant director for ‘Marmayogi’ in 2008.

On the third day of shoot, I was shooting with a kid who didn’t get his act right. I went to sir and asked him if he would check the take and he replied, ‘It’s your job; that’s why I’m paying you.’

– Rajesh M Selva

For Rajesh M Selva, director of superstar Kamal Haasan-starrer ‘Cheekati Rajyam’, the thought of wielding the megaphone for a project never crossed his mind. “I began my career as Kamal sir’s third assistant director for ‘Marmayogi’ in 2008.

On location: Rajesh giving instructions to Kamal. Trisha is also seen in the background

Though the film was shelved, I continued to work with his production house as they were regularly into films irrespective of the box-office results. After a journey of eight years, he felt I am ready to direct him,” says a smiling Rajesh, who studied Visual Communication. “It is like he is sending me to the examination hall now and I have to pass the test of what I learnt from him.”

Describing the film as an action thriller peppered with romance and family drama, Rajesh, who has his roots in Nellore, says, “I can vouch that Kamal sir hasn’t done this kind of film in a long time. It’s his safest commercial bet.” Chennai-bred Rajesh is touched by the complete support and liberty that he is receiving from the versatile actor, who is also producing the film.

“He gave me the freedom to choose my team – from cameraman Sanu Varghese to acting talents like Prakash Raj, Sampath and Kishore,” he exclaims, adding, “So far, I was his assistant director meeting his demands and now I’m looking at him from a director’s point of view. When he refers to me as the director, I feel like I’m in a dream world.”

After a pause he adds, “On the third day of shoot, I was shooting with a kid who didn’t get his act right. I went to sir and asked him if he would check the take and he replied, ‘It’s your job; that’s why I’m paying you.’ What more can I ask for?”

And admittedly, Kamal is everything for him. “Whenever I was down, I used to get a call from him asking me to work for him,” he recalls with a choke in his voice. “During the first three days of ‘Cheekati Rajyam’, we were really worried and had a feeling that something was going wrong.

After the fourth day, we showed him the footage. He was happy with what he saw and said, ‘You are going in the right track, go ahead.’ It was like a big pat on our back.” The director remembers how Kamal went out of his way to do prosthetic make-up for Trisha and Prakash Raj for a portion in the film. “It was actually a slip-up on my part.

I was supposed to call the prosthetic team but I forgot. When I explained the situation to sir, he said, ‘The shoot is tomorrow, right? We’ll figure out a way.’ But to the team’s surprise, though it was his reserve day, he dropped by the location and did the make-up for Trisha and Prakash Raj.”

By Nagaraj Goud

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