Hello Folks! In this week’s #BlabWithSandy, we have the Internationally acclaimed director Rajesh Touchriver with us. He is man with multiple talent and his films In the Name of Buddha, Na Bangaaru Talii, Raktham have not only won critical acclaim but have also been feathered with International, National and Nandi Awards. Let’s wait no further and dive into the blab I had with him:
Sandy: Namaskaram Rajesh ji! 🙂
Rajesh: Hello Sandy. 🙂
Sandy: It is an honor to have you on board with us. Firstly, could you let us all know about your background?
Rajesh: Pleasure! I come from a family which has no film background. My father was a Kathakali actor. Few of my relatives were writers while my brother has a PhD in Theater.
We used to live in Kerala amidst a forest like set-up. I used to see few shoots happening near my place and that’s how I got inclined towards art and cinema.
I have studied at School of Drama, Thrissur, University of Calicut, Kerala.
Learning direction also includes learning the other trades of cinema like designing, writing, graphics, and even carpentry. 🙂 I also studied at Wimbledon College of Art, University of London.
I came to Hyderabad and joined ZICA- Zee Institute of Creative Arts. I had to learn Telugu as I was getting offers from Tollywood. I started as an assistant art director and soon things fell into place.
Sandy: How did you get your first break?
Rajesh: Raghavendra Rao garu had called me and asked me to join films as the art director. Few of my films as an art director include Student No.1, Manasantha Nuvve, Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu. Soon, my journey moved to the West.
Through British Council, Charles Wallace India Trust gives scholarships to study in London. A maximum of seven scholarships are given and I was one of them to earn the Charles Wallace scholarship. This is how my film journey started and took its due course.
Sandy: Some anecdotes on your first film In the Name of Buddha.
Rajesh: It is based on the Sri Lankan Civil war and is a multi-lingual film. It got banned in India, Sri Lanka and China but did get released in other parts of the world and won wonderful acclaim allover.
Sandy: Na Bangaaru Talli won you National Award and Nandi Awards too! I loved the film. Can you share your experiences whilst directing the film? (Na Bangaaru Talli trailer)
Rajesh: Na Bangaaru Talli won me many awards. It is a real life story and I like to bring realistic cinema to people. As I always say, we can find scripts in our daily news. I directed a sensitive subject in Na Bangaaru Talli without crossing the line.
It is a clean film and the awards showcase the strength the script had! It definitely is a wonderful feeling.
Sandy: Your film Raktham is yet another award winning endeavor. Some tidbits about it? (Raktham trailer)
Rajesh: Raktham is yet to be censored and released in the Indian market. It won us the Best Feature Film and Best Cinematography Award from USA.
It won me the Best Director Award from the Jaipur International Film Festival and a nomination for the Best Screenplay at the Madrid International Film Festival.
The list goes on, it also won actors Bannerjee and Madhu Shalini nominations for Best Actors, we received nominations for Best Music Direction and Editing too! 🙂
Sandy: Could you explain the meaning of your name: Rajesh Touchriver. What is Touchriver? It sounds so unique.
Rajesh: Just like “Touchstone”, it’s “Touchriver”. Stone doesn’t move but water does. 🙂 Well, I never really liked a name which showcases one’s caste or distinguishes one from another.
My name was MS Rajesh initially. I felt I wanted to own my name myself. Just like how Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan changed his name to M. Night Shyamalan, mine is a similar case too!
BBC had invited me for an interview abroad. I was seated at the lobby while a lady came out and was looking for Touchriver and I responded. She was thinking I would be a Red Indian, haha!
Sandy: Interesting! 🙂 I heard that you did get some Hollywood offers. Please describe about those offers.
Rajesh: Yes Sandy! I did get a call from Richard Gere and had conveyed his liking towards my film In the Name of Buddha. He did express his desire to work with me. Angelina Jolie and Warner Bros. too showed their interest but somehow dates did not match and that’s how the journey panned. 🙂
Quick Shot Round:
- Tollywood: Biggest fan base and cinema loving industry
- Close friends in the industry: Many! Naga Babu is a dear friend
- A film of yours which made you fully satisfied: I am not satisfied with anything. No human existence is perfect
- Cinema: Visually Powerful Medium
- Writing or Directing: Both and Screenplay too! 🙂
- Love: It’s a feeling beyond words
- Any regrets? No! Have a habit to not regret anything
- Favorite actors: All are like a family
- You find your stories from? 🙂 We can find many stories from our daily lives
- Motto: I don’t want to be a part of history. I want to create one!
Sandy: Your next film Patnagarh is nearing completion. Few insights about the film. (Patnagarh teaser)
Rajesh: It stars Atul Kulkarni, Manoj Mishra (Odiya villain), Yashpal Sharma, Tanikella Bharani and others. Most of the actors are from the NSD (National School of Drama). The filming is almost complete, except for a song. Once we shoot it, the film will be complete and post production works shall begin.
It is based on a real-life incident which happened this year. You can just google it and find out more about the incident.
We studied a lot about the incident and came up with a fictional story. This is yet again another real story so we did deal with it in a proper manner.
We are not taking any sides and aren’t showing who is right or who is wrong. It will be open to your own imagination.
Sandy: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
Rajesh: Naagali is based on farmer suicides. Apart from it, one Hindi project is being jotted down.
I am having an interesting concept to be worked upon in Hollywood. Let’s see where the journey heads to! 🙂
Sandy: A few words about Hyderabad Local.
Rajesh: I like the fact that you are creating a new path of journalism here! Your writing is different and so are you from the ones that are already present in the industry. The kind of people you interview are interesting. All the best! 🙂
Editor’s note: It was a splendid experience getting to meet and talk to Rajesh Touchriver. He is a multi-talented person with immense knowledge. Learnt quite a few snippets about film making from him. Wishing Rajesh Touchriver a future filled with many more cinematic achievements!
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)