Kamal Hassan’s ‘Thoongavanam’ will bring in a new way of filmmaking in Kollywood, says director Rajesh Selva.
Although director Rajesh Selva worked as an assistant director with Kamal Hassan for eight years, he never knew he’d be directing the veteran actor one day. His film Thoongavanam is up for release this Diwali and the debutant director says he’s a little nervous now. In an exclusive chat with dna, Rajesh Selva talks about the film and working with Kamal Hassan.
Considering Kamal Hassan is an established director, what was difficult about directing him?
I was nervous during the preparation stage, but once we got into production, it was easy. Kamal Hassan has written the screenplay. We all know he has written and directed films earlier, so I was a little tensed. When I worked as an assistant director (AD), he used to give me the script and we would conceive the scene in a particular way. But when we’d get on set, he’d do it in a completely different way and we would be amazed at how it would turn out. I had that fear of whether I’d be able to live up to his expectations and if he would approve. But he said this is your film, so you do it in your way.
Were you confident you’ll live up to his expectations?
I was nervous about that, but he handled it very well. Initially, he just left us alone, so the cameraman and I would discuss the shots and go ahead. I was worried because Kamal sir didn’t see the frame or what we had shot. I showed the rough edit to him after a few days and he said you’re going in the right direction, so just go ahead.
What’s different in the way you shot this film?
We had a plan before we went to the actual shoot stage. When you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s not shot in the conventional way. It’s shot in a new pattern and if everything goes well and the movie is a hit, then people will have another way of filmmaking altogether. We didn’t shoot the film with the camera on a stand, it’s floating – the camera is always on the move. I think Kamal sir also liked the idea.
Having worked as an AD, did you ever want to write a screenplay for Kamal Hassan?
Who wouldn’t want to? Everyone does! (Laughs) I’m not a writer and I don’t believe in having credits like story-screenplay-direction for my film. I believe it’s teamwork and you need more brains to work on a film. But I always had one big wish and that was for Kamal sir to write a screenplay for me. Three years back I narrated a story to him and requested him to write a screenplay for it. Kamal sir advised me to do it as a comedy but told me that him writing the screenplay would turn out to be too expensive. (Laughs) So my big wish was for him to write a screenplay for me – him acting in my film is a bonus!
Why do you think he chose you to direct Thoongavanam?
I think you should ask him this question. (Laughs) I was always working with him on other projects. He usually calls me and asks what I am up to and if I am free, asks me to work on his project.
Is Thoonagavam in line with your vision?
100%. I am really satisfied with the film. In fact, I just got back from Los Angeles because I did the sound mixing and design sound of the film there. I think you’ll get this kind of opportunity only with Raaj Kamal Films and Kamal sir. The amount of money we have spent on sound alone for this film is huge – we have spent ten times as much as we would have spent here. I don’t think anyone would send a first-time director to Hollywood to mix the sound. But he and the producer Chandra Hassan did. I’m really happy with the film.
Tell us about Trisha’s role.
Trisha has done an extraordinary role, she has never done a role like this in her career. This may sound clichéd, but it’s really true. She travels with the story and contributes to the screenplay, taking the story forward.
What did you learn from this work experience?
Kamal sir is very particular about preparation. Everyone is talking about how quickly we finished shooting the film. But we actually started work on the film three months in advance. We spend a lot of time and money on prep in Raaj Kamal Films and I applied that here as well. I think I’ve achieved 60-70% efficiency in this film. We did script reading sessions and rehearsals before going on the floors. The post-production plan was also ready in the pre-production stage. We finished shooting the film and the next day, we started dubbing.
What reaction are you expecting from the audience?
I was not tense while shooting the film, but now I’m a little nervous. But everyone was very happy during the process of making this film right from Kamal sir to the technicians. I enjoyed making this film.
Have you signed another film with Kamal Hassan?
We are in talks as of now. I might be involved in the production for his next film and might direct a film with him after that.
Nothing is finalised as of yet.
Thoongavanam Censor Result?
Kamal Hassan’s upcoming film ‘Thoongavanam’ has been making headlines from quite some time. The censor Board officials who watched the flick yesterday has awarded U/A certificate for the film without any cuts. The flick is an official remake of French film Sleepless Night. The film including the song, will have a runtime of 125 minutes. The film stars Trisha Krishnan as the female lead who will be seen romancing Kamal Hassan and the flick is expected to hit the screens on 10th of November.