Telugu film Actor
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How do you select script?
My most momentous time for any film is the first day morning show. I love watching my films in a public theater along with the crowds. The cheers and whistles for a good movie is what thrills me. Whenever I listen to a script, I keep morning show crowds in my mind and judge if they are going to cheer for it. I also feel that no star is bigger than the cinema. That’s motto I stick to till the end of my career!
Were there any instances where you felt that you fell short of being good?
Yes. In ‘Ride’ movie, I thought I was pretty loud in the scene with priest. In ‘Paisa’ movie, I was very dramatic in the episode with Charan Raj towards end of the movie.
How do you respond to successes and failures?
I am not the kind of guy who gets overjoyous with successes and goes into depression with failures. I get disappointing if I didn’t do justice as an actor to my films.
Tell us about your next film?
My next film is being produced by 14 Reels banner in the direction of Hanu Raghavapudi. 40% of shoot is complete and film will be ready by Nov/Dec. It will have a realistic feel and has Ananthapur/Hindupur backdrop. It will be a full package for movie lovers.
What do you think is the reason for an extraordinary response to Bhale Bhale Magadivoy in USA as it’s collected over $1 million?
My previous films had a decent run and I have generated good will among audiences in USA. My films Ashta Chemma, Ala Modalaindi, Yeto Vellipoyindi Manasu and Yevade Subramanyam did do well in USA, though not in this magnitude. Telugu people in USA love entertaining films. Since BBM is a clean entertainer, it helped families to watch the film. Good reviews created an impact. BBM has passed all the parameters that requires a film to become a blockbuster in USA.
What’s most easiest scene and difficult scene you had done in Bhale Bhale Magadivoy?
Going to BBM shoot is like going to a playground and play your favorite sport. The only scene which is special to me is the dining table episode during pre-climax. The callsheet time was for 9 pm to 5 am. Maruthi has planned entire episode in bits and wanted to shoot it over 8 hours as they were highly emotional scenes. After reading the scene, I have realized that the emotion can’t be sustained for an actor if this episode is shot in bits and pieces. I told Maruthi that I would do it at a stretch. He has hesitated as it was a lengthy scene with over dialogues written in 2 pages. I tried to to do it as one scene. The total length of the scene is around 4 and half minutes. We have started it at 9:45 pm and finished at 9:50 pm. Everybody has clapped for it once it’s done. Maruthi was sitting behind monitor. He got up and came near to me. He has a layer of water in his eyes. He shouted ‘pack-up’ with utmost satisfaction. I can say that this is my most satisfying scene in my career. I had done a lengthy interval episode for Yeto Vellipoyindi Manasu, but the camera had a panoramic view. In BBM, it was more like a close up and into-your-face kind of shot.
Did you do any homework for playing a character with mind diversion?
No. As I told you earlier, I play the scenes narrated to me in my mind and see how best I can fit in. Forgetfulness is a fun element in the film and I had to slightly modify my body language.
How did Bhale Bhale Magadivoy happen?
Maruthi likes me a lot. I saw his film Prema Katha Chithram and loved it though I am not a fan of horror films. Whenever somebody narrates me a script, I imagine myself in lead character and try to view it from audience’s perspective. I got hold of my characterization and the body language I should apply for it. But at the same time, if the film is not done well it’s a risky proposition. Vamsi (UV Creations) has been my friend for a long time and I was supposed to do a project for him. Geetha Arts also chipped in. In earlier films, I had to involve till the film is released. For the first time in my career, I just did what an actor is supposed to do. I did my job and went home with a peace of mind that release is going to be smooth. Though I liked the idea and characterization in the first narration, we (me and Vamsi) didn’t like the second half. Maruthi reworked on it and gave a narration a month later and we loved it.
You had two releases on the same day (Yevade Subramanyam and Jendra Pai Kapiraju). How do you analyze the results?
It’s a bad experience for any actor to have two of his own films releasing on the same day. If 10 people are watch my film, they might split into 5 each. NV Prasad has cautioned me of it before release. But, both the producers had their valid reasons for releasing them on the same day. On the day of release, both films opened to houseful theaters and Yevade Subramanyam has opened to superior talk. NV Prasad has called me again and told me that I have passed as a hero. I feel that if I had only one release, the collections would have been far better for any of these two films. Yevade Subramanyam character had two shades and I played two roles in Jenda Pai Kapiraju. My biggest satisfaction on that day was that if anybody watches two films they will find 4 shades of me. Yevade Subramanyam gave me renewed energy.
For people constantly in the public eye, is there any silver lining to this forced social distancing?
Yes, I’m definitely enjoying my time with family and I’m making the most of it.
There’s a general sense of panic and anxiety in the air. Is there anything you recommend people watch or listen to calm their nerves?
Apart from your primary source of information or news, refrain from reading all kinds of forwards and random stuff and spend time with your family. No recommendation in particular. But I spend most of my time listening to Ilaiyaraaja sir’s music.
During this Covid19, world over film shoots are stalled, theatres shut, releases are pushed, daily wage workers are under threat – what worries you most about how the industry will brave this storm?
I know for sure we’ll sail through this. The industry has already come together to make sure everyone overcomes these difficult times. However, my biggest fear is how the movie watching experience might change in the future. Watching a film in a packed theatre is the best experience, I believe. With all the phobia around, I’m worried it will get affected.
What’s on your binge list?
I watch everything and anything. Last year, I’ve been working on films back to back and I missed out on a lot of nice films and series. I’m planning to catch up on them. I just finished watching Knives Out, Uncut Gems and Fargo and I enjoyed all of them
Are there things that you’ve put off for a while that you hope to do now?
I always used to write down ideas and develop stories as an assistant director and I enjoyed that process. After I became an actor, I never found the time to write and I think now is the best time to start again. Also, I’m trying my hand at cooking which I always wanted to learn but never could.
How do you stay creatively motivated at times like this – when you don’t know when you’ll shoot again?
Watching movies was always my way of being creatively motivated. Now that I’m home and I have all the time in the world, I’m getting to catch up on a lot of films that I’ve missed. I’m obviously very pumped about getting back to work, though the timeline is uncertain.
How can art save us from the gloominess outside?
I guess that is the only distraction for the entire world considering our lockdown situation. With all the information across social media/WhatsApp groups and the related panic around us, the only way to be sane is to indulge in art and it’s various forms.
What’s your mind space right now (during this lockdown)?
I’m in a space of uncertainty right now. I’ve realized how much we’ve taken things for granted. I’m looking forward to seeing our lives get back to normal. If not normal, at least close (to normal).