his first film - Manavadostunnadu
father Rayaparaju garu owns hundreds of acres in west Godari district.
He sold all the properties there and migrated to Madras. Producer
Arjuna Raju of Roja movies is a cousin of my father. After getting
inspired by him, my father started the business of making Telugu
movies in Madras. He made five to six films. But that did not
make my father happy.
I was a kid I used to watch lots of movies. I used to like old
films a lot. There used to be repeat runs of old films and I used
to enjoy the ingredients and depths in those films. After completing
my education, I started my career in films with the help of a
friend. I made a film titled 'Manavadostunnadu' with Arjun
and Sobhana in the main leads. It was not hard for me to make
a film, as I was very keen observing my father when he made films.
My father's good will helped me in getting financiers.
his first film on Sumanth Arts banner - Satruvu
I wanted to start a new banner called 'Sumanth Arts', I approached
hero Sobhan Babu, who is a very close family friend of ours, and
asked him to act as hero in my film. Then he replied that moviemaking
is a risky proportion and that he did not want to spoil the friendship
with my family because he would be in an uneasy position if my
film became a flop. I really liked his point and took his suggestion
in a sportive way.
that period Venkatesh's career took off in a big way but he faced
a few flops at that time. Hence everybody suggested me to go to
Nagarjuna. I do not like to approach people when they are riding
on the success wave. I prefer approaching a hero when he is down.
So when I approached Rama Naidu, he suggested that Venkatesh was
tasting failures at that time and asked me to come back after
he gets good hits. But I preferred making the film with Venky.
Then Rama Naidu appreciated my guts and said that 'you are proving
to be a person from rajula vamsam'.
and I are of the same age group (may be 6 months difference).
Hence we clicked right away. At that time, Venky suggested me
the name of S Gopal Reddy as the cameraman. Since then, Gopal
Reddy and I have had a very good rapport.
provided the basic story idea of the film. Kodi Rama Krishna and
Venkatesh appreciated the basic storyline with an open mind. We
roped in Satya Murthy as the writer and we worked with him to
develop the storyline.
that time Nagarjuna's Shiva was released and became a blockbuster.
It was the best technical film ever made in Telugu with great
visual effects and sound system. That film inspired us and we
wanted to make a film like that. We roped in Vijaya Shanti as
heroine. During the making of the film Vijaya Shanti had the blockbuster
Karthavyam. Venky had two blockbusters - Dhruva Nakshatram
& Bobbili Raja -released during the same time. Hence,
by the release time of Satruvu, it was a hot cake in the
industry. I started this film when everything was down and by
the time it was to be released, Satruvu was a hot proposition.
With that incident, I realized that its pure luck to have your
film as a crazy film or dark horse. But one must trust the story
and work over it instead of depending on the craze stars have.
Kota's different characterization, the manner in which he says
'Thanks' and the catchphrase 'Ee phone evadu kanipettadandi
babu' helped the film a lot. This film also helped Kota's
career in a big way. He created lot of entertainment. People revisited
the theaters because of Kota's character. Initially Kodi Rama
Krishna opted for a newcomer for Kota's character, but I some
how convinced Kodi Rama Krishna to take Kota for that character.
I learnt a lot from Kodi Rama Krishna about how to inject nativity
into the film and generate humor through characterizations. Satruvu
released and became a big hit. It was also successfully dubbed
his films with Vijaya Shanti - Police Lock-up and Street
we were making Satruvu, Vijaya Shanti closely watched my
involvement with moviemaking. When Kartavyam became a big
hit, lots of big producers approached her. But she called me one
day and said that she wants me to make a film with her as solo
heroine. I made a storyline and titled it as Police Lock-up. I
took the basic characterization of Vijaya Shanti from Karthavyam
and added another role of innocent girl. Vijaya Shanti did a dual
role. She did daredevilry stunts for Police Lock-up. This
film also became a big hit. The Tamil dubbed version was also
a big hit. With two successive Telugu and Tamil hits, I became
popular in the industry. With three successes, I could stabilize
the financial position of my family.
the making of Police Lock-up, Venkatesh gave dates for
another film. But I could not utilize those dates because of the
delay in the making of Police Lockup. I asked for Vijaya
Shanti's dates and started the film Street Fighter with
B Gopal as the director. We did the film in a hurry to fill the
gap. That film became a big flop. Now I realize that I did the
film with some over confidence of delivering three continuous
the flop of Street Fighter, my fortunes turned upside down.
One such day, I was humiliated by a few friends at a party. They
said that I was a history. With the feeling of dejection and humiliation
I drove my car (an old one with no paint on it) to my place. I
honked the horn few times and expected the watchman to come and
open the door for me. It was around 12 in the night and an old
neighbor was watching as if I had become insane. By looking at
his expressions, I realized that I have sold that house [which
was on my wife's name] to somebody else to pay my debts. Financiers
still carry lot of good will on me because I sold the house -
which is on my wife's name - to pay the debts.
was the first and last time I felt dejected. The next morning,
I realized that one would get both successes and failures and
that one has to maintain cool temperament for all kinds of results.
Even people like Raj Kapoor, Man Mohan Desai, Rajasris delivered
flops. We work hard to make every film no matter what the fate
of the film turns out to be. Then I approached a couple of heroes
who sent me feelers when I was in success. Those two heroes did
not entertain me.
his first devotional film - Devi
next day when I was taking a morning walk, all the previous incidents
- friends humiliating me and heroes rejecting me - crossed my
mind. That was when I decided that I should not depend on heroes
and I should trust the story and make it a hit. Hence I decided
to cast a snake as the hero for my film. I cast every unknown
Tom, Dick and Harry for that film. I took a Malayalam guy Sijju
as hero and booked Abu Salem - a police officer in Mangalore -
as villain. Then I saw a girl called Prema in a shooting - who
has a strange nose that resembles that of snake - and booked her
as heroine. She had three continuous flops. Then I spotted a chubby
girl on a poster and found that she is Anitha, 3rd daughter of
actress Manjula. I went and told Manjula that I wanted cast Anitha
as heroine in my film and asked her to make Anitha shed some kilos.
Anitha had two flops in Tamil at that time. With this negative
starcast I made Devi film. I worked on this film for two
and half years with dedication. I did not eat non-vegetarian food
during that period. That film became super hit in three languages
- Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. All the bigwigs who commented that
Devi would never see the light of the day were shocked
at the smashing success of Devi. I regained my lost glory
and heroes started sending me feelers again.
I preferred my hero Venkatesh for the next project and conceptualized
Devi Putrudu. It is a film, which could only be made with
directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The story of
the film was wonderful and I became emotional and started that
project. After starting the project I realized the depth, duration
and budget. Then we realized that it would take 10 years to make.
Hence we wound up the film and released it. The film became a
flop and my position was back to square one. I had to compensate
my buyers, my finances and my ego, very dearly.
I started the film Manasanta Nuvve with a relatively new
hero and a new director on the recommendation of S Gopal Reddy.
Paruchuri brothers did script work for this film with vengeance.
They slept in my office during the work. I released Manasanta
Nuvve all over AP on my own. It was a jackpot for me. I paid
all the finances to the financiers with just one-week collections
of Manasanta Nuvve.
and Devi Putrudu were released at the same time and both
these films bombed at the box office. I know the pain of a film
becoming a flop and I do understand the agony Guna Sekhar was
going through during that period. I told Guna Sekhar that we should
make a movie together. Mahesh's acting in Murari inspired
me. And thats when Okkadu came up.
project Okkadu needs a high budget and Mahesh Babu opined
that I could do justice to that subject. The three of us trusted
each other and made a good team. For the betterment of Okkadu,
Mahesh Babu and Guna Sekhar took lots of pains and worked like
slaves. Films like Sholay (Hindi) and Shiva (Telugu)
created commotion in the industry when they were released. There
are chances for Okkadu to create that kind of commotion
some of his favorites in the industry
have to give a big hit to Venkatesh soon. I would also make another
film with Mahesh Babu. I am going to make a film with Uday Kiran
again. I am currently working over 3-4 projects. I got a lot of
grip over the music aspect in the recent films. Paruchuri brothers
treat my projects as their own. I treat all my technicians very
specially. I give my editor three times than what the others pay,
because its very hard to tolerate a producer like MS Raju for
Sneham brought unique openings for Uday Kiran. Okkadu
is a rare kind of film made on Telugu screen.
his family members
the cast and crewmembers have share in my successes. I had gone
through very bad phases that I can't even reveal. During that
time, my family helped me immensely to gain my mental composure
and re-establish myself. There are always ups and downs in business.
But you should have the feeling of security in life. That security
could only be given in form of moral support from wife and children.
I am really proud to have such kind of understanding and encouraging
family members. I would like to narrate the attitude Sumanth (MS
Raju's son) developed. When I was in financial mess and when having
a hundred rupee note in my pocket itself was a big deal, Sumanth
- who was a pizza freak - never asked for a Pizza (as it costs
around 140) and used to say that he does not like pizzas any more.
Without asking a single question, my wife used to give the property
and jewelry that is there on her name. She used to give valuable
suggestions in the storyline. My daughter (second child) Rishita
was born before the release of Devi film and there is 11-year
gap between the Sumanth and Rishita. A new momentum started in
my life after the birth of Rishita. My family would definitely
be my strength in all my future endeavors.
on launching his son, Sumanth, as hero
is a handsome body and he wants to become an artist. But I want
to see him as a technician. Artist needs good judgment. One should
know the technical aspects to arrive at good judgment. He is doing
his +1 now. He should be in this business after 3-4 years. But
he is already on the track. He suggests me good songs and tunes.