Veteran on a rewind

... in

... in "Autograph"  

KNOWN FOR his powerful and subtle acting and impressive dialogue delivery, Rajesh has completed 25 years in cinema.

His first film, "Kanni Paruvathilae," was released in 1979, the landmark movies being "Achamillai Achamillai," "Sirai," "Andha 7 Natkal" and the recently released "Autograph."

The actor is keeping himself busy with roles in selective serials on the small screen. In this talk with S. R. ASHOK KUMAR, he shares his experiences.

Born in Mannargudi in 1949, it is surprising that this actor actually trained to be a teacher. He finished his graduation in Karaikkudi and teacher training course in Chennai, where he landed to try his luck in movies.

After a stint with Royapuram Kannappanayanar Kazhagam, he shifted to Sacred Paul Higher Secondary School, Purasawalkkam, and later to Kellet Higher Secondary School, where he worked for more than seven years.

Rajesh ... in tune with the times.

Rajesh ... in tune with the times.  

And the opportunity he was looking for came when he got the offer to act in ``Kanni Paruvathilae."

And there was no looking back, to employ a clich�.

Rajesh looks at his films as those that ran for more than 100 days and won awards and those that earned him fame.

To the first category belongs "Kanni Paruvathilae," "Andha 7 Natkal," "Achamillai, Achamillai," "Alayadeepam," "Sirai," "Nilavae Malarae," "Makkal En Pakkam," "Melmaruvathur Adiparasakthi," "Melmaruvathurin Arpudhangal," "Sarvam Sakthimayam," "Sathya" and "Autograph."

Some of the films in which his performance was especially appreciated: "Kann Sivandal Man Sivakkum," "Deviyin Thiruvilaiyadal," "Ilankeswaran," ``Mahanadhi" and "Manakkanakku."

He is happy that two of his films "Achamillai Achamillai," directed by K. Balachander, and "Sirai," directed by R. C. Sakthi, have found a place in the encyclopaedia and "Autograph" has been adjudged best film of the year and screened at the Montreal film festival.

Dabbled in theatre even as a student appearing in Tamil and English plays, historical in particular.

A fitness freak and lover of outdoor activities, Rajesh learnt horse riding, silambam, rifle shooting, swimming and fight with deer horns.

His connection with television started as far back as in 1982, Suhasini being the co-star and Mahendran, the director.

Has made it a point to greet important personalities on significant days, through phone calls or cards.

``Thank You" letters are on their way as soon as he leaves the place he has stayed in.

With Bhagyaraj and Vadivukkarasi in "Kanni Paruvathile" ... debut film.

With Bhagyaraj and Vadivukkarasi in "Kanni Paruvathile" ... debut film.  

Has preserved the tapes of interviews he made during his visits to the Chennai Central and Pondicherry prisons.

Has a collection of autographs and photographs of people met.

While on a tour makes it a point to meet saints, astrologers and yogis. Included in the itinerary is a visit to ancient temples. Stickler for punctuality — be it shooting or functions.

Lent voice to Malayalam actor Murali for his Tamil movies.

The list is long but three names are important — S. A. Rajkannu, thanks to whom debut was possible, K. Bhagyaraj, whose ``Andha 7 Natkal" highlighted Rajesh's histrionics and K. Balachandar, author of another success story ``Achamillai Achamillai" in which Rajesh was hero.

Jeppiar for all his help and guidance, P. Susheela, S. N. Lakshmi, Kanthimathi and Rajnikanth and Kamalahaasan who were reassuring in times of financial difficulties.

Had the good fortune to know both MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. They were with him on important occasions, including wedding.

Kept in touch till their end. Cherishes the treasure house of books, which he'd like to leave for posterity, to use and benefit.

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