We all are aware of how difficult it is to clear the tests for Indian Administrative Services. After becoming a IAS cadre some officers get posted in the Censor Board since they are believed to posses the acumen to judge what is fit to be watched as films. But Gnana Rajasekaran who served as an IAS Officer has turned as an acclaimed filmmaker who has given just four films in a career spanning two decades and each of them have made a mark in their own might. Not only his bureaucratic background but Rajasekaran’s perspective about cinema is what makes him stand tall from all other filmmakers in Tamil main stream cinema.
Born in Pallikonda, Tamilnadu, Gnana Rajasekaran completed his Master degree in Chennai. While he was working in Mumbai he wrote many plays that were successfully staged. He is known to be a voracious reader and wrote his first novel ‘Yanai Kuthira Ottagam’ which won the award for the Best novel from Thiruppur Tamil Sangam. A collection of three stage plays written and directed by him has been published as a book titled ‘Vayiru’. He became an IAS Officer and was posted in Kerala before he decided to make films.
When Gnana Rajasekaran decided to make a film his penchant for literature came to the fore front. He opted for highly acclaimed novel ‘Moghamul’ written by prolific writer T.Janakiraman to make it as a film. The stage writing experience helped Rajasekaran convert the 600 and odd paged novel into a film running close to three hours. However there were no takers for the new attempt which had predominantly less known actors in the lead roles. The film released in only one theatre in the year 1995 but successfully completed a 100 day run with maestro Ilaiyaraja’s re-recording and soul stirring songs rendering able support. Apart from this the film won high critical acclaim for transforming the master piece of a great writer in celluloid. It is to be noted that unlike the earlier attempts to make Tamil films based on novels, ‘Moghamul’ retained the soul of the novel that had readership cutting across generations. The film also won the Tamilnadu State award for Best film.
After a gap of four years Gnana Rajasekaran teamed up with veteran actor Nasser to give a film titled ‘Mugham’. Though the film had a realistic content highlighting how it has become easy to cheat people with fake identity in cinema industry, it was a box office dud.
However the failure of ‘Mugham’ did not hamper the passion of Gnana Rajasekaran to give films with good content. This time he took up a biopic which is highly ignored genre in Tamil cinema. While all other filmmakers used the national poet Subramania Bharathiyar’s poems and anecdotes in their films, Gnana Rajasekaran dared to make a film on the life of the revolutionary poet. Casting newcomer Shayaji Shinde and Devyani as Bharathiyar and his wife Chellammal, Gnana Rajasekaran made the film ‘Bharathi’ that was released in the year 2000. Music was again rendered by Ilaiaraja who made some brilliant poems of Bharathiyar into beautiful and most memorable songs which find a place in the play lists of even today’s youngsters.
Gnana Rajasekaran’s script concentrated more on the revolutionary side of the poet and his efforts to eradicate caste hierarchy and male domination. The film was commercially successful and critically acclaimed. It also won four National awards including the award for the Best Tamil film and six Tamilnadu State awards.
Gnana Rajasekaran proved that he makes films with purpose. The success, recognitions and awards could not shake his resolve to give meaningful films. He took a gap of six years to strike back with a film based on the life of another revolutionary leader E.V.Ramasamy fondly addressed as Periyar. The founder of the Dravidian movement dedicated predominant part of his long life for the eradication of caste and emancipation of women from the clutches of the patriarchal society. Gnana Rajasekaran brought the comprehensive life of the leader of an important rational movement in Tamilnadu who lived close to 100 years. The film included every political and social move in the life of the white bearded man who became the synonym of revolution in Tamilnadu.
Though the film did not do well at the box office, the content as well as veteran actor Sathyaraj’s performance as Periyar in the film received critical acclaim.
Again taking a gap of six to seven years Gnana Rajasekaran is back with his third consecutive biopic on renowned Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam who lived a very short life in the pre independence era and won international acclaims for his mathematical wizardry. Gnana Rajasekaran has said that the genius has not received his due in his homeland, Tamilnadu. The film titled as ‘Ramanujam’ with new comer Abhinav Vaddi playing the lead role is going to hit the screens in a few weeks from now.
When asked about the long gap he takes between one film and another, Gnana Rajasekaran has said that he does not want to make films that entertain the audience but he wants to engage them. The term ‘engage’ used by him can also be understood as taking the audience to the next level. That is what the creator in his is striving for nearly two decades and that makes him different from every other director in the film industry.