Your Gateway
usa special
hyd scene
You are at Home > Celebs > Interview > D Suresh Babu
Interview with D Suresh Babu by Jeevi

Date: 8th January 2002 Venue: Rama Naidu Studios
Other Interviews
Mahesh Babu (Hero)
Lisa Ray (Heroine)
Sravanthi Ravi Kishore (Producer)
RP Patnaik (Music Director)
Smita (Telugu pop singer)
Shyam (Producer)
Karunakaran (Director)
Sri (Music Director)
Gudipoodi Srihari(Film Critic)
SJ Surya(Director)
AM Ratnam(Producer)
Tammareddy Bharadwaja(Producer n Director)
Jayant C Paranji(Director)
Kodi Rama Krishna(Director)
Chakri (JD Chakravarthy)(Hero)
Ramana Gogula(Music Director)
Naga Babu(Producer n Actor)

When I called up D Suresh Babu for an appointment, the first question he asked is if I sell pirated DVDs on my web site. When I told no, then he invited me to visit Rama Naidu studios and take the interview.

D Suresh Babu, undeniably the most successful producer in the current lot, is the son of legendry producer D Rama Naidu. has met with D Suresh Babu on 8th of January 2002. Here are the excerpts of the exclusive interview that lasted for more than one hour.


Tell us about your educational background?

I did my schooling in Don Bosco school, Madras. Then I did my PUC in Loyola College. Later on I did 2 years of my engineering in College of Engineering, Guindy before transferring to USA to finish my mechanical engineering in University of Michigan. I graduated from Michigan in 1981.

I came back from USA to set up an Industry. That did not work out. My father is into making movies. So I got into my family's business. I started off my career with the film 'Devatha' in 1982.

Are you genuinely interested in films at that time?

I love movies. But I was brought up in a way that I should chose a profession other than films to make a better living. My dad wanted one of us (Me and Venkatesh) to become a doctor. At that time, Suresh Productions was not a big player. Some producers asked me to act in film when I was a child. I did not act. It was the same case with Venky. My parents did not want us to get into movie business as moviemaking was considered to be a risky business at that point of time. We have to gamble with money and the returns are not assured. That's why I got into engineering. My uncle was an engineer. Hence, I also wanted to become engineer, start up an industry and serve the society.

When I returned back from USA after studies, Suresh Productions was not doing so well in movies. Then I thought that I should help my father by joining him in moviemaking. I have natural skill of making good stories and identifying right things. One after one, the things started working for us. The company was in the up side again.

When did you migrate from Madras to Hyderabad?

We started making films in Hyderabad since 1982. My father used to make lots of movies with ANR. ANR used to prefer shooting in Hyderabad. We helped in setting up Annapurna studios at Hyderabad. Our film was the first film to be shot in Annapurna studios. At that time, we also did a Hindi film titled 'Maksood'. We thought flying people from Bombay to Hyderabad is more economical compared to flying them to Madras. We also had affiliation with Annapurna studios.

My father always wanted to come back to home state. The government has given us some land and plots in Jubilee hills. That's how we shifted to Hyderabad. After that we shot most of our films over here since 1984 though we stayed in Madras. Later on, we built our houses and guesthouses in Hyderabad.

After my son was born and when he came to the age of schooling, I decided that we should stay permanently in Hyderabad. We applied to the government to grant us some land to construct studios. They gave us land. We constructed Rama Naidu studios. As our films started doing well, we slowly expanded by adding floors and facilities to the studios. My father's goal is to have one-stop-shop where the entire film can be made. And we did it.

When did you start producing films independently?

Once my brother Venky started his career as hero, I started making films independently. Though I was involved with the making of 'Dhruva Nakshatram' and 'Brahma Putrudu', I started putting my name as producer from 'Bobbili Raja' onwards. It does not matter who produced the films. The company has got brand equity and we go by that.

Your movies and Rama Naidu movies have got contrast styles in production values and story selection. Why is it so?

Yes. We do have different styles. All the stories I make, I tell my father. Sometimes, he makes the films even if I don't okay the story. I will make the films even if my father does not approve them. But all the stories made by me are narrated to my father.

Most of the Suresh Production produced films will have same formula. Don't you change it?

Telugu film's industry success rate is 15% and failure rate is 85%. But Suresh Productions has 85% successes and 15% failures. We try to play to the commercial success. Keeping that in mind, sometimes we are trendsetter and sometimes we are followers. Always trendsetters are very successful. At the same time its very difficult to set a trend.

We did a standard Atha-alludu story with forest backdrop for 'Bobbili Raja'. 'Preminchukundam Raa' is again a standard romantic film. That film started off the trend of young romantic films in Telugu, though a dubbing film like 'Prema Desam' has come.

My aim is not to be a trendsetter, but to be a successful producer. I want to be the successful Producer.

What goes into making a film?

We should get a good script. That's where the first skill stands. Then you cast it right with apt artists. Then you make the film in a disciplined manner. And then you market it right.

What is the percentage breakup in terms of time for pre-production, production and postproduction work in your films?

It takes roughly 60% time for pre-production work. The production takes 30% time. We don't spend as much of time as it is necessary for postproduction, as lot of post-production goes along with production simultaneously. Another reason is that we do not have extraordinary post-production skills in our company. I don't spend a couple of months on DTS mix or editing. We take more than 200% time when compared to industry average for the process of finalizing script.

Why do you prefer new heroines in your films?

They look good. They are reasonable. They probably listen to you. You will not have date problems. And usually many of these scripts need younger heroines. If you take the new heroines I have launched, 'Kaliyuga Pandavulu' had Kushbu. I wanted a new heroine for 'Bobbili Raja'. The director wanted to cast Radha. But I was keen on casting a new heroine Divya Bharati. But 'Kalisundam Raa', which was the Industry's biggest hit at that time, did not have a new girl, but still it worked. Simran got stardom in Telugu with that film. And we also did Tabu, Preethi Zinta, Anjala Zhaveri and Arti Agrawal. We are making the same old stories. By adding fresh heroines, we get freshness to the film.

You have mastered the art of selecting new directors and making blockbusters with them. How do you spot that talent?

I still do not know how to spot it. I wish that every good directors and storywriters who is there in the market came to me. I invite all of them with open arms and I have all the time in the world to listen to them. I will definitely give them a break. Any number of them!!

It's very difficult to get a good story. I do have loads of money. But I do not have a good story to make a film. Checkout all these heaps of paper (referring to bunch of filed papers all around his desk.) All these papers have stories and scenic orders submitted by lots of writers. Anybody who is reading this interview can send their stories, if they think they have excellent storyline to narrate.

So when you announce your next film, can we presume that a good film is already half made as you found a good enough script to start a new film?

No. There are many times I made a film knowing that it is not a best film and it can be made much better. But the time and environment at that time forced me to complete that film. I was not 100% satisfied. But still we did it.

Who does the script for your films?

Different people!

Let's take the recent examples. For 'Preminchukundam Raa', Deena Raj and I made the majority of the script. Then I fixed Jayant to do the film. Then, Paruchuri brothers joined us and made it a full script.

Tirupathi Swamy came up with the story and I Okayed it. I was very angry at the hospital system at that time. Uday Shankar came up with storyline of 'Kalisundam Raa'. The writers did the script. Writers are given more importance in our company.

We do not have good number of storywriters in the Telugu film industry. Paruchuri brothers have given stories for 80% of my films. Earlier, we had Satyanand and Jandhyala garu as the good storywriters. Only Trivikram Sreenivas stood out as the best among the latest storywriters. We hardly have any storywriter who has done more than 10 successful films. I also like the people who are well behaved and disciplined. I can't handle too much of indiscipline. This is the main policy in our company.

Suresh Production seems to be making one film per every two years to get Nandi awards. Do you have any strategy of doing on award film after two commercially successful films?

When you make a commercially successful film, your bank is full and you are full of funds. At that point of time, money is not an important issue and a hot topic comes up which I am really angry at and we make an award film. It does not bring you the money, but it gives you satisfaction.

I remember one incident when we were making 'Bobbili Raja'. Venky was a successful star by that time. People came and commented that Raja Sekhar has Ankusam and Nagarjuna has Shiva but Venky does not have a path breaking film yet. That comment hit me hard, when somebody in the press asked me. And we really did a great film 'Bobbili Raja' which shook and broke all the records. Later on 'Chanti', a remake film was released and became the industry number one grosser.

You told that you get fed up with some social issues and make films on them. What are they?

I still have not made any film as hard as I should have been making it for the commercial reasons. For example, I was really upset with the hospital systems and the way hospitals are run in India. I saw my friend suffering in a government hospital. Then Tirupati Swamy came up with the story and I made this film.

Again, I am against the caste system that runs in our society. I hate the people who ill-treat the lower castes. That's why I made 'Jayam Manadera'. And we camouflaged it, as I did not enough guts to say that I can make film that we will get rid of reservation system. At the same time, I am also unhappy that lots of upper caste people are also not treated well. But I don't have guts to make a film on it. Gentleman was the film on that concept. There are lots of personal issues I have, which I can't really make films on. I am trying to strike a balance between my personal emotions and economics of cinema.

You have been around in the industry for a couple of decades. What do you think are the milestones achieved by Telugu cinema in these two decades?

The major triumph achieved by Telugu film industry is shifting from Chennai to Hyderabad. I am really proud of being one of the main people involved in bringing Telugu film industry from Chennai to Hyderabad.

As far as technology or technique is concerned, we have not done too well. We have done very well in terms of being together as a producer's council. We had been quite successful in Telugu in terms of studios compared to Tamil or Malayalam industry. But we have not really gone into any new path in terms of marketing of films and quality of filmmaking. Tamil films have better technique compared to our films. That's because we lost out huge chunk of creative talent in Madras when we shifted to Hyderabad.

Since we are completely settled in Hyderabad as a superior industry, now we should concentrate making films with superior technique compared to other languages. A big example of successful and technically superior film is Shiva (by Ram Gopal Varma). Ramu has gone a way ahead compared to rest of the filmmakers as far as technique goes. We need more Ramus.

Why do you think we lost Ramu to bollywood?

Ramu wanted to go there. It was always there in his mind to make Hindi films.

There are lots of negative comments in Industry about Suresh Productions that you make the movies run forcibly as you have distribution system and exhibitors in your hands. How far is it true?

I never run my films on deficit. I will be the last man to lose money by paying for deficits. People have that perception that we run our films. It's not true. We place our product in the right theaters. We do the right publicity. We take right terms from exhibitors. We don't sell our films. We don't want our risk to be passed on to somebody else. Since everything is with us, we take more care. Our managers make sure that the film gets its full run without running into deficit.

Even as hero, my brother does not insist on running his films for many centers for much number of days. If you take the list of my films and my brother's films, we have the highest number of films, which were removed between 90th day and 100 days. Those numbers are not really important too to us. They are good milestones. But they are not end of the world.

Are you taking any actions to curb VCD and DVD piracy?

Yes. I am desperately trying to take some action against pirates. I wish that people do not watch or distribute pirated stuff. It is a social obligation on our part. It's unfortunate that we are not growing, because people are watching our films without paying anything to the makers of the films. I am not against the new technology. But people should pay to view films using this technology. But people are viewing it for free, which is the saddest part.

What's sad is, we are not getting money that is due to us, legally. If we get to know then we can enter into the league in a bigger way. We are trying to fight it. But, we do not have enough support within the industry. We do not know the gravity or seriousness of this problem. If we complain to the police, they have 100 better things to handle on priority basis compared to raid on the pirates. It is very unfortunate that the people in power do much of the piracy in the state. We need to fight all that.

If a person is buying a VCD/DVD illegally means he loves that product. When ever he buys a pirated VCD/DVD he is hurting the Telugu film industry in a big way. I was also telling exhibitors that piracy is their problem too. If a person watches VCD illegally at home or watches illegally shown cable TV, it's a certain percentage loss to the exhibitor as well. And the laws here are very weak. Implementation is weaker.

All the producers know that piracy is the most important thing. But we do urgent things in life and ignore the important things. We are making a committee for this and collecting money.

If you take USA, dubious companies are making lots of pirated DVDs. A Telugu movie lover does not mind waiting for two more months and paying two extra dollars if he is assured that he gets original and high quality DVD. Do you have any plans of selling off the Suresh Productions movies rights to any DVD maker?

Earlier, I wanted to keep the DVD rights for some more time. We are selling off the DVD rights now. But my only apprehension is that if official and high quality DVDs come out in USA, there will be DVD rampage in India too. All those DVDs will come to private cable operators. Now they are showing the inferior quality movies on TV. Now, they can show the crystal clear quality film on their cable net illegally. That's why we have been holding the rights back.

At one point of time, we wanted to pass a resolution in AP Film Chamber Producers council to cancel the entire Telugu film business in USA. If we think that 10 or 20 thousand extra dollars of money producers earn is the reason why the pirated VCDs/DVDs are coming in India, we wanted to ban releasing Telugu films in America.

Because there has been lots of talk that the people who are distributing the films in USA are themselves the principals behind the DVD racquet. A couple of distributors in USA traded charges against each other. They sent me pages of information maligning each other. I wanted to have a talk with them and asked them to meet me together. But, they did not have guts to talk to me and clear their names. But still, they are doing business. If that's the way they want to cheat and do business, if they are really cheating, then God help them. We can't do much. We can only hope that sooner or later, they would be in trouble.

As far as my films are concerned, we are going to take action on pirated DVD makers and the sites that are promoting and selling these DVD's. We are looking at appointing a lawyer out there and file a suit on the pirates and the related sites. We are also looking at doing movie distribution through proper means by AP Film Chamber person heading the distribution out there so that there is a little more control on the proceedings out there. We want the American Telugu NRI get to watch film material officially and legally, if it's going to pay to all of us.

In the month of March, there will be lot of material out on what we are planning to do and what we would be doing. Everybody is busy with New Year and Pongal releases. You can see a major move taken by us by 1st of March, both in India and America.

What do you think is the role a Telugu film web site can play for Telugu people?

It unites that vast number of Telugu film lovers across the world, which is losing touch with Telugu. There are lots of guys who have left AP 70 years ago, who can still follow Telugu/Hindu rituals but still can't talk Telugu. I hope they were brought closer to the language and the people. It would be great that if we can do something like that. And I hope our media and our music has a part to play. Internet has the most extraordinary connectivity to the most remote places. Those Telugu guys, who lost in touch with Telugu films would probably come to know that these four guys are major heroes in telugu today. I wish that we could revive those interests. I know lots of Maurutius people who are originally Telugu, but lost touch with it, long back. Maybe, we can push some Telugu music and movies into them through Internet.

When you say pushing music. Do you mean giving it for free?

I would not mind giving the songs of 'Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu' for free on Internet if a Telugu guy from South Africa want to listen, as long as the site playing those songs gives courtesy to the music company and the producer.

Tell us about your product 'Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu'?

I made 'Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu', because I want to give a break to Kasi, who worked as an assistant director for Suresh productions for a long time. We worked on a simple romantic family story. He took the story up to Tarun and Roja Ramani and narrated the script. They were happy. He got the dates and we made this film. It's a good romantic story with a lot of family atmosphere. I hope that it does very well. I want all the people to bless that new director who has come from our company. The music of this film became quite popular. Audio sales are very good. The publicity given for this film is being appreciated. We have to see how well it does at box office. I don't give statements that my film will break the records. It's not my style. I hope it does well.

If you see some of the big films by big heroes, they are taking a year and more to make it. Do you have any time limit set when you are making films?

We usually shoot anywhere from 65 days to 85 days to make a film. Those 65 days to 85 days would be spread on how the artists give dates and how the climate pattern at that time and how ready we are with the script.

What is the film that was made in minimum number of days by you?

Surprisingly, most of my films take 80 days to make. 'Ganesh' and 'Jayam Manadera' were overshot.

You have made only one flop film in the form of 'Super Police'. What has gone wrong for that film?

The only film that I Okayed the script and went for the shooting was 'Sri Katna Leelalu' many years ago, though my name does not appear in the credits. I knew a week after started making that film, that we were making a flop film. We knew that casting is wrong and we knew that the shooting is not getting done well. We used to fight on it every day and it failed. All other films have done relatively as much as we have expected them to do.

Another average to flop film was 'Super Police', which was also a known failure. We are not surprised that it did not do well. My brother was not keeping good health those days. So we had to go around with the script and we were little confused. We still made money on that film also because of the music by AR Rehman.

There is a comment that Suresh Productions gets new talent, pays less in return and makes movies with minimum budget, thereby getting more return on investment compared to other producers. What's your version of it?

That could be a valid reason. I get good director and pay marginal money to take care of his living. He also does not mind as his gets a break and he is also damn happy. But, the time I spend with him and the facilities that I give him cost me much more than if I had taken the same script to a successful senior director and paid him hefty remuneration. We did that exercise with Raghavendra Rao garu once. If he had to direct 'Kalisundam Raa', he would have completed the film 10 days faster. Budget wise, the cheapest films in the company were directed by Dasari Narayana Rao garu and Raghavendra Rao garu. Hence, there is no money saved when we make films with new director. On the paper, it is written that we are saving 20 lakhs on director. But ultimately, it evens out for the extra number of days we shot with the new director.

What's your daily schedule and personal preferences?

I come to office by 9:30 am and stay on till 1:30 am. Ours is a closely-knit family. And I am into round tabling. That's the social meeting place for us. I also watch lots of sport like cricket and American football and baseball. Even now, I know which team is doing what in states. I also like eating good food.

Do you have any words to say to visitors who want to produce films?

They should come in and do this Showtime business without a show. Cut the 'Show' out and do the business and they will become successful.

Interviewed by Jeevi
emailabout usprivacy policycopy rightsidle stuff