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Interview with Aswini Dutt by Jeevi

: 17th August 2002 Venue: Vyjayanthi Office, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad

Aswini Dutt, the man behind Telugu Cinema's one of the prestigious banners - Vyjayanthi Movies, is a senior most producer of Telugu film industry. He has produced blockbusters with all the stars of Telugu Cinema ranging from NTR to Taraka Rathnaa. is the frontrunner in putting efforts to kill video piracy. Aswini Dutt is going to extreme ends to eradicate video piracy in AP and USA. Aswini Dutt gladly accepted to give an interview when we asked him to talk about the steps he is taking to kill piracy. He is also taken as platform to communicate the news about his anti-piracy-drive to the millions of Telugu movie lovers across the planet. met with Aswini Dutt, at his plush office in Jubilee hills on 17th August. Here are the excerpts --


What are the steps you are taking for preventing movie piracy?

For the past one and half years, the AP Film Chamber has become inactive. I suffered a lot during the release of 'Choodalani Vundi' due to video piracy. That was when I decided that I should fight against piracy for my next film. We producers invest up to 15-16 crores by selling all our properties and make films. And some rascals pirating the movies rob us off our worthy earnings.

In AP, black marketers and pimps carry out video piracy. The same piracy is going on in USA too for Telugu films. Telugu white collared people who are either doing software jobs or studying in universities do this. Recently, we arrested three people in Vijayawada, who gave us the names of the persons in the US with whom these people form a piracy network. The issue being investigated now and I should not reveal their names. But I can say that one person among them is very close to me and closely associated with me. I will give out the names and photographs of those people to the Federal Agency in the US and I will also give out that information to

I don't see any difference between the maniacs who masterminded the 9/11 tragedy and these idiots who are carrying out piracy in the US. Whatever their intent, both these groups are a bane to many innocent people. These people who are carrying out this piracy are bringing disrepute to the entire Telugu NRI community in the US.

I have decided to spend each and every penny I earn from 'Indra' film in the USA, to trace these pirates and bring them to justice. I have also appointed an attorney to tackle this problem. I would be personally visiting the US along with other producers like KL Narayana, Teja, D Suresh Babu to take care of this. We have spoken to our CM Chandra Babu Naidu regarding the same and I have informed Honorable Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mr. Pramod Mahajan too about this, when I met him a couple of days back.

For a Hindi film, the overseas market is very huge. Hence they are selling the rights to USA NRIs. As a result they are suffering because the pirated cassettes and DVDs are being dumped into India from USA. The market for Telugu cinema in USA is very minimal. The amount we get through selling USA rights is peanuts. We producers send prints to USA, only to entertain the Telugu NRI crowds out there. Whatever we get (15k to 20 k dollars) from USA market is nothing. Out of which we give 50% to the people who distributed it, as it helps their studies. But these same distributors are obtaining pirated cassettes from Vijayawada and other areas in India and reproducing pirated DVDs in USA. That's why we want to stop sending prints to USA for one and half year. We may not release any more Telugu films in the years to come. Indra is my last film to USA. Here after, I don't want to send prints of any of my future films. Because of 10-11 bad guys, the entire Telugu community in USA would be suffered.

I have the entire details of Balarami Reddy (I can't reveal more details about him as it is under investigation). I know the person to whom he speaks over the phone in India. I know how he forged my signature and created a fake agreement. I have appointed an attorney and I will sue him. The kith and kin of the NRIs in India are proud that the cream of their families is in USA and this is what some people do in the USA. If they want to do get into such cheap acts, they could do it here. Why should they go to USA and do these kinds of things and get disrepute to the entire Telugu NRI community.

We have taken rigorous steps here in AP as well to curb piracy and save our properties (Telugu films). For that, we would be taking action lawfully and if needed unlawfully too. Because the copyright laws have some loopholes, these pirates are doing piracy and earning money. Due to this piracy, a producer loses crores of money. To be honest, Santosham and Jayam films should have collected crores of rupees more. These two films are terribly affected by piracy.

If you take the entire film industry of India, only Andhra Pradesh film industry is doing extremely well. This is because of our 'prekshaka devullu' (audiences). The public is coming to theaters and watching movies. That is the reason why Telugu NRI's traveled hundreds of miles to watch Indra screening at New Jersey. That passion for films is very much present in our Telugu blood.

The AP Government is introducing a new act called Andhra Pradesh Criminal Act to tackle pirates. If you analyze, there are around 20 people who are doing piracy in AP for the past 10 years. Rathan Rai (Bangalore), Jeeva Rathan Reddy (Tirupati), Star Videos (Chittoor), Bhaskar Rao (Bejawada) etc are the guys who are in the piracy business since many years. If these guys are put in jail, they get the business done by their relatives. The Government is going to put all these guys behind bars on the basis of an act on organized crime.

I came to know that Indra DVD is available in a shop in Detroit. I will make sure that Indra pirated cassettes/DVDs are not circulated. Balarami Reddy has given the DAT to a DVD maker in San Jose to make copies. I will go to any extreme to curb piracy.

If movie collections go down due to video piracy, it's not just the producer who suffers. The entire Telugu film industry and thousands of families that are dependent on industry suffer. Irrespective of the place where piracy occurs, we requested the Government to change the area of jurisdiction to Rangareddy district court as all the producers are based in Hyderabad. Even if there are any practical difficulties, we don't mind going to other areas as well. Recently, Teja and me had a trip to Vizag regarding anti piracy operations. All the producers would be making frequent trips to curb piracy.

Watching pirated cassettes and DVDs is also crime. These pirates are surviving because the public entertains piracy. Are you taking any steps to educate the public?

We are appealing to the public to understand the efforts that go into making films and request them to watch them on big screen instead of viewing them on a pirated cassette in closed doors. We are roping in all popular heroes to create awareness about piracy by giving advertisements on the television.

Most of the public and DVD selling shops complain that they do not know which DVD is original and which DVD is pirated. Do you have any plans of officially releasing a list of Original Telugu DVDs available and the details of the makers of those Original DVDs?

Henceforth, the producer council is going to give an advertisement about the latest Original DVD as soon as one is released. We are also planning to make theater owners sell Original DVD/VHS in the outlets of theaters.

Now coming to your mega movie Indra. What is the response you got for 'Indra'?

I am very happy. I am grateful to the audience of Andhra Pradesh. This film is on its way to erase all the records and set new standards at the box office. I have also received critical acclaim for the film. I am very proud of the entire unit who worked very hard for this film. We worked as a one united force.

Chiranjeevi is believed to have said that there is a major mistake in the second half of the film. He has also announced that the producer would give Rs. 10,000/- to the person who identifies it. Do you know what the mistake is?

No. I do not find any mistake in 'Indra'. I do not know what Chiranjeevi garu has on his mind. I am also trying hard to find out the mistake myself so that I can given Rs 10,000/- with one hand and take it back with another hand. Lets wait for Chiranjeevi garu to announce that mistake.

What are your predictions about 50 days and 100 days centers of Indra?

Indra will run for 50 days in all the released stations. You may have to ignore some of the second theaters in those stations. Indra is going to run for 100 days in 110 theaters to 115 theaters. I am also expecting quite a number of centers for 175 days.

Can you predict the number for 175 days centers?

I can't give out the number. But, if we look at the current trend, Indra has all possibilities of creating records in 175 days centers. The rainy season is ahead. Lot of films are releasing in the next month. All these factors affect the long run of Indra. I can definitely tell you that it will create an all time record in the history of Telugu cinema.

Tell us about your future films?

'Okato Number Kurrodu' - a joint venture with K Rghavendra Rao - is releasing on 11th of September. Siri Media film - a joint venture with Allu Arvind with Venu as hero in direction of SV Krishna Reddy - would be releasing in the month of November 2002. Currently I am concentrating on my film with Pawan Kalyan. I am also planning a film with Venkatesh Babu as hero very soon.

Balayya fans feel that you owe a big hit movie to Balayya. Do you have any plans of producing a film with Bala Krishna?

Currently, I am working with the heroes with whom I am very much comfortable. I am always on the watch for an excellent story to do with Balayya and I will start the project as soon as I find one. I am promoting the culture of making films will all heroes. I think I am only second to D Rama Naidu in the terms of making films with all the heroes.

Do you have any long-term future plans?

I have one lifetime ambition. That is to represent my hometown Vijayawada and enter parliament as MP. I am not sure when I would contest. This is one of the unfulfilled wishes I have. I want to do something good to my hometown Vijayawada.

Which political party do you wish to join?

I don't have any concrete idea about it. At present, I am a sympathizer of BJP and TDP though my father is a very strong communist. But I might even contest as an independent.

Tell us about your academic background?

I am a graduate and I come from a well-to-do family. My father is an A-class contractor in Andhra Pradesh and we were the sole distributors for Kalinga pipes in AP for many years. Since I came from a business community, I wanted to deal movie as a business. The strong force behind my success is my wife, who is a postgraduate. And my daughters are enjoying my success now. When I am down after my unsuccessful films, my daughters encourage me with words of courage. They are my strengths.

Aswini Dutt and Vyjayanthi Movies banner are the forces to reckon with in Telugu film industry. What are the factors behind you becoming such a big producer? Is it pure luck and dedication towards work? Or do you have any strategies?

Luck plays an important role in this film industry. Without luck, whatever you do might boomerang. First and foremost, my hard work and dedication helped me to become successful. I started my career as an executive producer for a black and white film directed by K Viswanath. Luckily I got a chance to work with a great director like K Viswanath in the beginning. Then I landed up producing a film with my favorite actor NT Rama Rao. NTR is a role model for discipline. Then I worked with ANR, who is a great actor. I learnt a lot from both of them. Chiranjeevi garu and Raghavendra Rao garu are always with me to support me. Both these people are very dedicated towards their profession. So there are many factors that have contributed to my success.

When you produce a film, do you at any point of time get a suspicion that the film might become bomb out?

Yes. Definitely! Whenever we chose a storyline, we have 70% good qualities that dominate the story. Based on those good qualities, we start the film. During the making of the film, the negative points in the storyline might dominate the film.

Lets take the storyline of 'Azad'. South Indians don't have so much emotional attachment towards Pakistan border problem and Kashmir unlike the fervor of North Indians towards the same issue. Even when a few bombs planted by a terrorist organization were unearthed at Nuziveedu, our public did not take it very seriously. Our indifferent attitude towards border problem is one of the reasons why Azad did not succeed in a big way. I was in Waranasi on 15th August 2002. I was surprised the way they celebrated the Independence Day. Each and every person was wearing a tricolor national paper flag on the shirts. Flags were hoisted on each and every house of Waranasi. In Andhra, we don't have even 10% of that attachment.

Likewise for Indra, the first half came out very well. But during the making of the second half, I had to cross check if any comparison between earlier faction films and Indra would arise.

Sometimes, the positive points get diluted and negative points get elevated. I might not have good judgment about the subjects I choose, but I am definitely very talented when I choose music for my films. All my films are musicals.

Before making Choodalani Vundi, you started two projects with Chiranjeevi and they were stalled. Can you tell us what exactly happened?

With the success of JVAS, we wanted to do another vithalacharya kind of fantasy film by highlighting graphics. So we started 'Bhooloka veerudu' with Chiranjeevi as hero in the direction of Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. After completing two schedules, we realized that we started the film only to highlight graphics without having proper story in our hand. We realized that it would become a flop if we complete it and release it. If we release the film, the entire industry (right from producer to exhibitor) would lose money. By stalling the shooting, only I lose money. So we stalled that film.

I was looking out for other stories. Then Ram Gopal Varma narrated a story to me. He was making 'Daud' at that time. Ramu felt that the shooting of 'Daud' might be stalled due to Sanjay Dutt problem. So he narrated the story to us and we liked it. We started the project with Chiranjeevi as hero in the direction of Ram Gopal Varma. After sometime, Sanjay Dutt was released and 'Daud' shooting restarted. Then we realized that the storylines for these two films are similar. I was not comfortable in doing a film, which had the same story line of another bollywood film in the making and I lost money by stalling this project too.

What are the reasons for the flop of 'Ravoyi Chandamama'?

I would like to tell you a strange point here. I made two flops with Nagarjuna. I lost heavily on those films. And Nagarjuna too suffered set back in his career because of me. Though those films failed, you can see all our efforts in them.

I think I made mistakes in these two films. Ram Gopal Varma came with two subjects. One is Rangeela and other one is Govinda Govinda. He told that he prefers making Rangeela with Nagarjuna (Amir Khan role) and Rajnikanth (Jackie Shroff role). I told him that I wanted to do an action film. Since, I am an ardent follower of Sri Venkateswara Swamy, I preferred mixing action thriller with divinity and made 'Govinda Govinda'. The negative points in that films got highlighted and it became a flop.

Jayant narrated two subjects to me. One subject was like that of 'Vetagadu' with full masala and entertainment and the other story was 'Ravoyi Chandamama'. Since Jayant did three love films and met with success, I preferred 'Ravoyi Chandamama'. Nagarjuna also seconded me. But the movie misfired. In retrospect, I feel that the movie would have been different if we had a fresh heroine in that film. Anjala Zhaveri had already acted in three films by then.

What has gone wrong with Aswametham?

In the original script, we had Sridevi doing dual role as twins. But it was later converted into two different heroines. We have also failed in shaping up Sobhan Babu's character in the movie. Besides, the super success of JVAS also made us feel over confident about doing this project.

You have announced that you want to make a film with Pawan Kalyan. But he takes lot of gap between movies. Can you wait for him for so much time?

I don't mind waiting for a couple of years to make a good movie. I waited for Mr. Mani Ratnam for two and half years. After two and half years, Mani Ratnam told me that he is doing a Tamil film and he wanted me to produce the Telugu version. It sounded like a dubbing film, which I refused to do.

I don't mind waiting to do a prestigious project with Kalyan, which would become the talk of industry. Kalyan has got equal fan following in intellectuals, masses and class people. I feel, a moviegoer should extract each and every penny he spends to watch my movies. And I am confident that the movie I make with Kalyan will be one of its kind.

Everybody in the industry is enjoying the success of 'Indra'. When the audience feels that he got the value for his money by watching a film, it's a rare achievement for the producer. At that time, JVAS had given that kind of value for money and now Indra is doing the same. If I make a film with Kalyan, there are 99.99% chances that it would become a much bigger hit than these films. Kalyan is a dedicated artist.

Do you have any plans of celebrating the audio platinum function and 100 days function of Indra?

Your words have now prompted me to arrange a function to celebrate the platinum disk of Indra's audio. But I am not sure about it. However, I want to celebrate 100 days and 175 days of Indra in a grand way with a public function. There are a lot of requests to celebrate the function in Rayalaseema, Nizam or coastal district. We have not taken any decision yet. I will inform you as soon as we finalize it.

Do you want to say anything to the visitors of

I am grateful to the visitors of for reading my interview with such patience. I also feel proud looking at and seeing so many new things. I wish visitors all the best.

Also read another interview by Aswini Dutt

Interviewed by Jeevi
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