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Interview with Teja by Jeevi

: 19th May 2003 Venue: Rama Naidu Studios

From a cinematographer (Raatri, Antham, Money etc.) to a sensational director (Chitram, Famliy Circus, Nuvvu-Nenu and Jayam) Teja has come a long way. met Teja at Rama Naidu Dolby Recording Theater, where he was busy with the Dolby work of his latest venture Nijam. He squeezed half-an-hour from his busy schedule to speak to about his latest film Nijam. Here are the excerpts from his frank interview -


Nijam - Teja - Mahesh Babu
Nijam Juke Box
Sreya Audio Review
Nijam Photo Gallery
Nijam Wall Papers
Nijam Screen Saver
Nijam Trailers
Nijam Mega Posters

What is the story of Nijam?

All the stories of my films (Chitram, Nuvvu Nenu, Jayam and Nijam) are old stories. I am just trying to present in a different way. I am trying to present the old wine in a new bottle. Audiences will have to say if I am successful or not after watching the film. It's a normal story made by a normal director called Teja.

Why there is so much hype for this film?

I never tried creating hype for Nijam. I held back all the stills and I did not give many interviews. But some how, this hype was created in the market. After the release of the film, I try to talk in promos to sustain the collections of the film. But I never speak high about my films. I never praise myself. I never praise my films.

In all the films you made so far, you have a low profile casting. But for 'Nijam' you have taken popular faces like Mahesh Babu, Raasi, Jaya Prakash Reddy, Prakash Raj, Brahmaji etc.

Do you think big names make the movie run? No! What makes any movie run is the story and perfect casting. 'Nijam' story needed this sort of casting. Hence I selected these actors. You would understand it once you see 'Nijam'. I don't believe in stars or stardom. I believe in good story shot with perfect casting. This film would not run on the name of either Teja or Mahesh Babu. It would run if the film were good. Nobody watched any film just because Teja made that film. That's the reason why I have not kept my name in the even in the titles of the Nijam film. 'Teja' name would come during interval point in 'Nijam'.

Is 'Nijam' a Mahesh Babu's film or Teja's film?

Mahesh Babu has lots of fans. After 'Okkadu', the fan base of Mahesh increased a lot. I don't know if I have fans or not. But, I would like to say that whoever watched 'Jayam' and 'Nuvvu Nenu' would definitely watch this film.

The songs of 'Nijam' have the flavor of Teja. The songs remind us the style of 'Nuvvu Nenu' and 'Jayam'. The songs do not sound like that of Mahesh Babu. The audio of the film turned out to be a typical Teja's product. What about the film?

For the public, Nijam story is directed by Teja and enacted by Mahesh Babu. It's neither Mahesh Babu's film nor Teja's film. I made a film for the public of Andhra Pradesh.

If you look at the posters, the caption of 'it's a lie' used to come at the bottom of the logo 'Nijam' before the start of the film. But now the 'it's a lie' tagline comes in a prominent place above the logo. Does it have any significance?

Its purely poster designer's (Krishna Digitals) decision! I don't have any hidden truth or heavy thought for it.

In an interview given to 'Number One' film magazine, you told that 'Rathaalu Rathaalu' song is not going to be there in the theatrical version of the film. Is it true?

I had two minds about the song earlier. By giving that statement, I sent feelers to the audiences. I got a feedback from audiences that the song should be there. Hence I decided to keep that song in the final version.

There is so much of negative publicity and comments about Nijam that the film has not come out well. Did you hear these kind of comments?

There is bound to be negative industry talk for all the films that generated hype before the release. The latest examples are Gangotri and Dil. Both these films turned out to be hits after release.

In this film industry, if 4 people work the remaining 400 people gossip about the things. We are around 30 people who were working for Nijam. And around 400 people talk about 'Nijam' without knowing what's going on inside. Nobody has seen the final cut of the film including myself. How can anybody tell if my film is good or bad before the release? The people who talk much about the other's films are the people who do not have much work. They have cerebral lethargy.

What went wrong with the actor Murali Mohan? Can we have your version about that controversy?

It has become quite a big controversy. I don't want to rake it in again by opening my mouth. To keep the respect of the elders in the industry in tact, I have decided not to talk about it.

How is the performance of Prakash Raj (who replaced Murali Mohan) in this film?


What is your experience in working with Mahesh Babu?

He is a very good actor and he is totally professional!

I heard you have given 25 lakhs as remuneration for Prakash Raj's small role?

I do not want to reveal the figure of remuneration. But I paid him very high amount because, He helped me by gave dates immediately when I wanted him.

What is the new sound system that is being introduced through 'Nijam' film in Telugu?

Dolby Digital Surround EX

How much would it cost for the theater owners to equip their cinema halls with this new sound system?

Most of the theaters have got either DTS or Dolby SR. To upgrade those theaters to this new sound system, it would cost anywhere between 2 lakhs to 5 lakhs. For a theater owner who does not have any of the earlier formats, it would cost 15 lakhs for installation.

It would not workout for theater owners to upgrade their sound system to a new format, unless many more movies are made in that format in future?

The film industry runs on sentiment. if one film becomes a hit in Dolby digital, all the makers would follow it.

How many prints are getting ready for Nijam's release?

As of today, it crossed 180.

How many theaters?

Number of Theater and prints are counted by the people whose ego banks on it. I don't have any ego problem. I don't mind releasing 100 prints in 120 theaters. It's not prints, theaters, 1st week share records that are important for me. The film has to become a hit and people should like it. That's what matters to me. I don't make my films run by tearing tickets or paying the theater rent in reverse. I don't claim that my film would run for 100 days in so many centers. I would never fall in to that trap. I am here to entertain the people. I would do my best to entertain them.

I heard that you are taking help of Mahesh Babu's fans to prevent the piracy of 'Nijam'?

Yes. 3 people would be there in each and every theater that is playing Nijam. One guy would be there in projection room, one guy would be there in theater and another guy would be there in lobby. The guy in projection room make sure that nothing goes wrong from the operator. The guy in lobby checks the belongings of audiences to see if there is any camera. The guy in theater makes sure that nobody is shooting the film secretly. I also have codes on prints. Before handing over the prints, I am signing a document by the theater owner that I would claim a damage of 50 lakhs if it were found that a pirated print is shot in that theater. These people would also take care that toilets are clean and women are well taken care of in the theaters. This is just the beginning. For the next film, I would make sure that everything is streamlined.

Don't you think it's the responsibility of the film chamber and exhibitors association to take care of such things?

They would also do it. But it's my responsibility now as the film that is releasing is mine. I want to give the audiences the best possible comfort, as audiences are important to me.

I heard you are following 'recoverable advances' method for selling Nijam to buyers. What exactly does it mean?

Let me explain the system of 'NRA' (Non-recoverable advances). If a distributor buys a film for Vizag territory for 25 lakhs and if he made losses, he can't claim any thing from producer. If he makes any profits, those profits are shared between distributor and producer (normally 80:20 percentage). In MG (Minimum Guarantee) basis, if buyer buys the film for 25 lakhs and if he makes any profit, it would be shared between distributor and producer in 50:50 ratio.

I am selling Nijam on recoverable advances basis. Every paise would be returned if my movie does not work. I am not here to make money. I am here to make a hit film and entertain the people. Money would automatically follow. I need money to make films. I don't make films for money.

If you follow recoverable advances model, how do the distributors ensure transparency? Most of the first week collections include money earned through black tickets and flat rates.

I will have my people stationed at theaters to check these things. 20 minutes after starting of every show, I would be getting complete reports for each and every theater.

I am trying these new things. Lets see how it works out. I am not a person who does not try anything.

I heard that buyers went back from the commitments for Nijam after seeing the fate of Johnny, which made you change the business proposition from NRA to Recoverable advances. Is it true?

Nijam theaters and Johnny theaters are different. The distributors for these two films are different. Johnny is done on NRA basis. I sold that Nijam to distributors on recoverable advances basis before the muhurat of Nijam.

There is another rumor that you signed Raasi by saying that she is paired up Mahesh Babu and later on you revealed that she is playing female companion to the villain Gopichand. Is it true?

I do not have intentions of cheating anybody. I am not in such a position. I never cheat. I am a straight-forward person. I narrated entire story to her and explained her role. She signed on the dotted line only after listening to her role. I never try playing games with people, that's too in my profession!

Tell us about your next film?

I would decide about my next film, if Nijam runs well and makes money.

When would Sambaram (made by Chitram Movies and directed by Dasarath) would release?

It will release after 100 days run of Nitin's latest film 'Dil'.

It is also rumored that you are playing the role of Godfather to Nitin in film industry?

Yes. Its 100% true!

There is another rumor that you made the producers of 'Dil' to pay 1 crore as remuneration to Nitin for 'Dil'?

I do not interfere in money matters. Nitin or his father Sudhakar Reddy would deal remuneration matters. It's their personal thing. I guide Nitin in terms of selecting good scripts and good producers.

How much share did 'Jayam' collect?

I don't want to reveal it. People with ego would like to boast about the shares.

Do you have any new publicity plans for Nijam?

If the movie is good, it would become a hit. The best publicity for any film is the mouth publicity by a satisfied audience. A film would not become a hit because of publicity. If that were so, all the films made by owners of TV channels would have become hits.

What went wrong between you and Tussar Kapoor during the making of 'Yeh Dil'?

Most of my films are shot in single schedule with the bulk dates given by the hero. But Tussar Kapoor failed on his promise to honor the bulk dates, hence the delay in release of 'yeh dil'!

You films are becoming big hits. But the critics and intelligentsia downplay your movies. What is the reason?

I have not made great films. My films are liked by the masses more than the smart people. I am a cheap filmmaker who got a cheap taste. I can never make great films like K Viswanath, K Raghavendra Rao, Ram Gopal Varma, Krishna Vamsi, Poori Jagan or Vinayak. I am from the streets. I used to live on the streets. I used to watch films by sitting on the floor (nela class). My taste would be that only. I don't make films with aesthetic sense. I am a cheap stuff who makes cheap films for the people like me.

When is Nijam releasing?

The censoring board is going to watch Nijam from 2 pm onwards today. If there were no major cuts, I would be releasing it on 23rd May 2003.

Checkout 1st interview of teja for

Interviewed by Jeevi
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