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The Rediff Interview / Dr Rajasekhar
From medicine to script doctoring
February 12, 2007
Dr Rajasekhar is a happy man. His latest film, Evadaithe Naakenti was appreciated by the censor board.
Known for doing remakes, Dr Rajasekhar wrote the screenplay and dialogues for the new film with his wife Jeevitha, Mohan and Swami. His wife also co-directed the film along with V Samudra.
Basking in the afterglow of the censor board's praise for the film, the filmmaker revealed more about the film, his social work and medicine during an interview with Radhik Rajamani at his residence. Excerpts:
Evadaithe Naakenti is based on the Malayalam film Lion. Did you write the screenplay?
I know what people expect from me. Producers are not expanding the canvas and they are coming up with similar subjects made on low budgets. The public is interested in seeing films in the genre of (his earlier films) Ankusham, Aagraham and Magaadu. The people are disappointed with the previous films.
So I wrote the story (it was changed quite a bit), screenplay and dialogues. My wife Jeevitha and two youngsters Mohan and Swami helped give the script a shape. In fact after the puja we shot two songs in Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. At that time we thought we could change the main protagonist (who is a party worker) to a lawyer to make it more impactful. After the songs we decided to improvise and felt the protagonist could play a major in the army.
What is the message you want to convey through the film?
When you ask a student what he/she wants to become, the answer is always an engineer, doctor, software engineer, MBA etc. Most people say politics is dirty. Nobody says he wants to clean up the system. Politicians worry only about retaining their seat. They do things to remain in power. The tagline of the film runs, 'Leadership is not a possession, it's an action.' I hope the film will inspire the young to join politics and work for the development of the country.
What are the problems you tackle in the film?
I look at day-to-day problems. I have brought in some changes with the police and they are made more honest in the film. Even intellectuals will appreciate the film.
There are two credit lines for the director, Samudra and Jeevitha...
Samudra did a good job. But we felt that he needed more assistance and Jeevitha chipped in. The picture resulted out of good team work. I appreciate Samudra as he had no ego problems in this regard.
What roles do women play in the film?
Samvriddha (the Malayalam female actor who makes her Telugu debut) is the love interest who later becomes the protagonist's wife. Mumaith Khan plays a rough-tough honest cop who likes the main protagonist (the home minister) as he is dynamic and gives the police department power to discharge their duties.
You seem to be doing films with a moral lesson.
Yes. I like films with a message.
You also seem to favour doing remakes.
It's easy to know about the subject. The first impression is the best impression and to beat that one has to work very hard. Remakes mean good business too. It's most challenging for actors in remakes to match up to the level of actors in the original. If one performs according to character and situation and renders dialogue in a natural way without imitating, one can get the audience involved.
Is creativity being undermined in Telugu cinema? There are few original stories and experimentation here.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu both boast of high literacy rates, with experimentation more in Kerala. The youngsters are coming up with some good subjects in the Telugu industry now and experimentation will happen in the future.
You advocate social causes like HIV/AIDS and are the brand ambassador for the Government's RNTCP programme (for tuberculosis control) mostly in the field of health. Is it because you are a doctor that you take them up?
I have been associated with such activities since school and college days. I have been in the NCC, and a member of the Blue Cross, Blue Cross, Lions Club, Leo Club etc. I have been donating blood every year for more than two decades. I believe when we learn we should spread that knowledge to others. After studying all about blood I started donating blood and talking about the fact there is no harm in donating blood. This way, the layman will get to know things.
Medicine and acting are two diverse professions? How did you get into acting despite doing medicine?
In 1984, I completed my MBBS. When I was studying, I was not as serious and my main aim was to clear the exams. However, when I became a house surgeon, I became serious and later I had my own clinic. I was a fairly successful general practitioner. Right from childhood, I was fascinated with cinema. Even my classmates at medical college would tell me I was wasting time doing the course as I should have been in films because of my looks. Quite a few patients also told me I resembled actors like Mohan and so on. I was scared of entering acting as I never spoke much because of a stammering problem (now there is no trace of it). I shied away from speaking in public.
I applied for a course in the Acting Institute at Guindy (Chennai). Though I got into both, I decided if I don't act then I could never act. But because of my private medical practice, I could attend only a few classes. Then I got a break in films and continued to act. I have been in the film industry for more than two decades.
Do you still practice medicine?
Yes, to some extent. I am a doctor to the family. Sometimes when people in the unit fall sick, they come to me and I treat them. I feel I am a good doctor now. I have read about alternate systems of medicine and healing like ayurveda, siddha, homeopathy, acupuncture, Reiki, pranic healing etc. I am treating a few cancer patients as well without resorting to chemotherapy and radiation.
I am a psychiatrist too. I have studied all about the systems (through books) and picked up useful things from all. I believe there is a cure for everything. I want to go to London next year and take the Alternate therapy exam to get a certificate to practise. I also want to join the Emergency Medicine course. Though the course is one year I would have to seek more time to pursue it given my film commitments.
How has the journey in cinema been?
It's a never-ending journey. It's satisfying, and when everybody appreciates you it's a good feeling. I have no regrets.