A passionate photographer-cum-film buff once got forced to try his luck in film making. And to his surprise, the 23-year-old director received the Kerala State Film Award for best director for his debut movie.
This was in the year 1975. He later became busy with his other ventures and bagged many accolades including national award for best director. Forty years down the road, T Rajeevnath, the current chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, thinks his tryst with film direction was an accident.
“In fact, we were planning to make a film with K G George as the director. We friends, including cinematographer Ramachandra Babu, started discussions regarding the subject. When it was progressing, unexpectedly, they all suggested my name as the director. Though I was hesitant, they forced me and convinced me to head the project. That’s how Thanal happened,” remembers Rajeevnath.
“It was an unexpected turn as I was not thinking about a film of mine. Though I was addicted to movies, my passion was photography. I had 6 mm and 8 mm still cameras. But that discussion completely changed my focus and I ventured into the film with out proper training and only the experience of watching movies to rely on,” he says.
The production of Thanal was started in 1975, with the screenplay by Dr Sathyaseelan. Rajeev’s uncle Vikraman Nair and friends were the producers. “Though I had planned to start movie with Ramachandra Babu, he got busy with his other commitments. Thus Hemachandran was roped in as cinematographer for the project,” Rajeev says.
The movie, which bagged best director award for Rajeevnath and best actor award for M G Soman, had set another record. “This is the first Malayalam movie which had a noon show. That was in Sree Padmanabha theatre here in East fort. It completed around 52 days of screening,” he remembers.
Film makers G Aravindan, Ramu Kariat, lyricist Kavalam Narayana Panicker and film-editor Ravi are his godfathers in the industry. “Their support and blessing were my strength when I decided to start a career in the industry. When Aravindettan and Ramu Kariat supported me in the beginning of the career, Kavalam and Ravi collaborated with me in many of my movies,” Rajeevnath says.
If his uncle was the producer of his maiden venture, most of Rajeev’s movies were produced by his own production houses. “Rasika Movie Arts was my first production house. Later it was renamed as Sree Sankara Arts, under the banner of which Mohanlal-starrer Aham was produced. ‘Chaya films’ was launched with Janani for which I got national award. All my movies since Janani were produced under that banner,” he says.
Producing his own movies gives him freedom from intervention of others, says the director. “I want to do movies without intervention from others who have a say over it. If it is my project, then it should be completely under my control, not others. That’s why I choose to produce my movies,” he says.
In the 40th year of his movie career, Rajeev is ready to make an impact with Rasam, starring Mohanlal and Indrajith. “It is a simple movie which can be called a ‘foody-flick’ as it deals with the story of a chef and his family. The movie is a portrayal of some incidents that take place after they move to Doha for an assignment,” he says.
While Nedumudi Venu, who co-wrote the screenplay, plays the chef Valliyodu Tirumeni, Indrajith dons the role of his son. Mohanlal plays himself in the movie. Krish Kymal cranks the camera and Babu Ratnam has done the editing. The movie, with songs from Kavalam Narayana Panicker-Job Kurien team, will hit theatres on Friday.