Petta production designer Suresh Selvarajan on the dream experience of working with Rajinikanth, Karthik Subbaraj

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Jan 14, 2019 08:31:20 IST

Suresh Selvarajan’s journey in cinema began as an assistant to production designer Sabu Cyril in Shankar’s Enthiran, featuring superstar Rajinikanth. There couldn’t have been a better start to the career of young Suresh, who went on to work with Cyril in 14 films for nearly a decade. Having predominantly worked in Bollywood, Suresh didn’t expect to be offered another opportunity to work on a Rajinikanth starrer but when Petta came his way, he was pleasantly surprised and saw it as a big sentimental moment in his career.

Rajinikanth in Petta. Image via Facebook

Rajinikanth in Petta promotional still. Image via Facebook

“I grew up as a Rajinikanth fan and I still remember how after I finished my tenth board exams, I went and watched Padayappa in school uniform. When I joined Sabu Cyril as an assistant on Enthiran, I told all my friends and family how I got an opportunity to work with Rajinikanth sir in my first film. It was a very special moment and I told myself that there can’t be anything bigger in my career that can beat this feeling. As I continued working more in Bollywood and eventually settled down in Mumbai, I never thought I’d get another opportunity to work with Rajini sir,” Suresh, who has also worked on Mahesh Babu’s Bharat Ane Nenu and Vikram’s Irumugan, told Firstpost in an exclusive chat.

Destiny willed otherwise for Suresh, who got an opportunity to work on Petta through the film’s cinematographer Tirru. “Tirru sir has known me for quite some time. When we were working on Bharat Ane Nenu, he asked me if I’d be interested to work in Rajinikanth’s next film. I couldn’t contain my excitement and I instantly gave my nod. It was through Tirru sir’s reference I got offered the opportunity. When I was signed, I realised there can’t be a bigger high than working in a Rajinikanth film.”

Rajinikanth and Simran in a still from Petta. Image via Twitter

Rajinikanth and Simran in a still from Petta. Image via Twitter

Suresh’s work in Bharat Ane Nenu, especially the assembly set, is highly spoken about even today. “As production designers, we don’t get to work on an assembly set every day. Therefore, there was a lot of hype even as we were working on the set. In Petta, we built different kind of sets and I believe on the whole my work will stand out. For instance, we recreated most of Darjeeling in sets and the best part is that you can’t identify which parts in the film are sets.”

On the experience of working with Rajinikanth, he said that he was appreciated for his work on multiple occasions. “There were a few instances where he wanted to meet me just to convey how much he liked a particular set. For someone of his stature, he need not even care to appreciate but he did on multiple occasions. Words of appreciation from him meant a lot and it inspired me to work harder.”

Having worked on several big ticket Bollywood films such as Ra One, Krrish 3 and Om Shanti Om, Suresh didn’t find working on Petta challenging, but shooting the film within a short stipulated period of time really tested his abilities. “When I began work on Petta, the only concern was whether my team and I will be able to deliver quality output in just under six months. We were shooting in multiple cities and my team and I had to race against time to deliver what was required. Even for just two hours of shoot, we had to work on a set for two weeks. I wouldn’t say the work was challenging but it definitely called for a lot of concern as we didn’t have time in our hands.”

Another still from Petta. Image via Facebook

Another still from Petta. Image via Facebook

Petta, which released on 10 January, has been directed by Karthik Subbaraj. Suresh said he enjoyed working with Karthik Subbaraj as he’s a fan of his work. “I’ve always seen his film as an audience and I am a fan of his work. His film Iraivi really disturbed me for days. When I got an opportunity to work with him in Petta, I was honestly more curious than excited to know him as a filmmaker. He was very open-minded in his approach and gave me a lot of freedom to work. It was really fun to work with him because both of us are nearly the same age.”

Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 08:31:20 IST