To debutante filmmaker Rajesh M Selva, directing Kamal Haasan in Thoongavanam was an absolute dream come true. A long-term associate of Kamal, Rajesh says he got to learn a lot from him. “I have assisted Kamal sir for eight years, but never thought that he would make me direct Thoongavanam. Not many debutants get this opportunity to direct Kamal Haasan in their first film, and I consider myself lucky. Sir and I had discussed many scripts. Initially, he was supposed to direct the film. Only later (after pre-production work) I came to know I was directing it. I took the responsibility very seriously and made use of the opportunity,” adds Rajesh.
Ask him if he was nervous directing Kamal, and Rajesh says, “I felt like I was going to write an exam, but it was easy to direct him. The screenplay is his, yet I had absolute freedom to execute my thoughts. Often people ask me what’s the biggest compliment I have received from Kamal sir, and I say it was when I showed the film to him and he didn't utter a single word — that made me happy and it’s a very big thing. When sir doesn’t say much, it indicates appreciation,” he smiles.
There are reports that the film was completed in less than 39 days. Are they true? “No, they are absolutely baseless. We completed the Tamil version and the Telugu version in about 60 days,” he says, and proceeds to explain that, “There’s something for everybody in the film. Though it is inspired from a French film, we made a lot of changes in the script according to the taste of the audience who are here. I can’t say it’s a heroic film, but it will satisfy Kamal fans like any other film of his.
Originally, Trisha’s and Madhu Shalini’s characters weren’t there in it, but we added it. Raaj Kamal Films has obtained the rights for the film.” Rajesh was also all praise for the team. “Be it Prakash Raj sir, or Trisha or anybody else, everybody was dedicated on the sets. When you watch the film, you will get to see it clearly. We didn't even have a single day lag in the middle of the shooting. It went on continuously.”
What’s next up for him? “I have a few scripts on my mind as of now. I might assist Kamal sir or even take up a role on the production side. Also I have been getting offers from the outside banners as well, but I would love to direct Kamal sir again. That might happen soon,” Rajesh signs off.