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A perfectionist to the core



Film-maker Rakeysh Mehra.

He had honed his film-making skills not through any film institute but by making a number of commercial advertisements. In fact, he made a coup of sorts when he got Amitabh Bachchan to endorse for a leading brand for the first time in his career and some time ago also won rave reviews for his debut film, "Aks".

Meet Rakeysh Mehra who has more than 200 commercial advertisements under his belt and has broken new ground in film-making by making a supernatural thriller with imaginative and thought-provoking cinematography.

Here in Gurgaon this past Wednesday for a function, Rakeysh said: "Since childhood I had grown up watching supernatural films. I used to regularly watch the television serial "Vikram Aur Baital". "Aks" was a paranormal film. Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai made a perfect pair. Both these actors are so immensely talented. The chemistry between them showed on screen."

A perfectionist to the core, before directing Amitabh Bachchan for "Aks", Rakeysh not only browsed through extensive literature and viewed documentaries, but also met a number of people who could enlighten him about spirits.

"Some of the scenes that I had shot have been etched in Indian cinema. The gigantic waterfall scene was shot near Nasik, while the one in which Manoj chases wolves was shot in Budapest. Manoj did a fabulous job in that scene. Wolves are normally unpredictable and we had to take a number of precautions."

As for his experience of working with Amitabh Bachchan, Rakeysh said: "It was simply mind-blowing. He had so much to give that every moment of working with him was a learning experience. In fact, Amitabh Bachchan was the first member in my unit to give the go-ahead to the idea of showing the scene in which Manoj Bajpai's spirit was shown entering inside his body. In an actor-director relation discussion is necessary. I always allow healthy discussion with all my actors." After a three-year sabbatical, Rakeysh will show his craftsmanship on the silver screen with his second film titled "Rang De Basanti". In this film he has managed to rope in Aamir Khan. And no, it is not a period film. "I wasn't tempted to make a period film just because "Lagaan" was such a big hit. To be made with an eight million dollar budget, my film will be a contemporary one. Shot entirely in Delhi and its suburbs, it will also feature Arjun Rampal and Atul Kulkarni. I will be selecting a British actress to act opposite Aamir. This bilingual film will be titled "Paint It Yellow" in English. The genre will be drama."

Rakeysh said the transition from a commercial ad filmmaker to a full-fledged filmmaker was a "seamless" one. His long innings as an ad filmmaker kept him abreast about the socio-economic situation prevalent in the ad world. "It sharpened my skills as a technician. I realised the importance of a budget and how it had to be spent in 30 seconds."

By Madhur Tankha

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