Can you tell us about your educational background?
I studied in St. Pauls, Hyderabad till 7th class. I did my 8th, 9th and 10th class in KCP Siddardha Adarsh Residential School, Kanur (Vijayawada). I completed intermediate in Vikas. I did my engineering in Coimbatore. I went abroad to completed my masters in Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. After completion of masters I returned to Hyderabad to join films.
What was your career ambition when you were studying?
Till 10th class I was so fascinated by films that I wanted to take up the profession of heros characters in films. If hero were a businessman in a film I liked, I wanted to become businessman till I see another entertaining film. But my stint as a child actor in Bala Gopaludu changed it all. I loved the ambiance of film shooting. I realized that this is where I belong. Since then I wanted to become an actor.
What is the reason behind doing masters when you want to become an actor?
I reason behind my higher education are my parents. In our Nandamuri family nobody has done masters. I am the first guy to complete masters in our family. My grandfather used to say to my father that somebody should complete masters. After completing my BE, I asked dad that I would join films. My father asked me to study masters, as it was the ambition of NTR. And he left the final decision to me. Main policy in my life has always been to keep my parents happy.
Did you do any groundwork in acting while pursuing education?
I have not done any homework in acting, but I love watching films. Even today I watch all the films in theaters. I watch films and learn.
With Athanokkade, you proved not only as a good actor, but also as a producer who can spot the right talent?
Honestly, I feel that Athanokkade is a gift from God. I dont claim to be great strategist. Each and every actor try for all their films all the time. It just happened that Athanokkade came at the right time. It was me who took the decision to do Toli Choopulone and Abhimanyu. Those films misfired. I watched each of those two films for more than 30 times in order to analyze what went wrong.
What went wrong with Abhimanyu, which I found to be a decent film?
Let me tell you about the fans. First impression is the best impression. It is the fans that watch Nandamuri films on the day one. Any Nandamuri film, which is not liked by fans, will not run. Regarding Abhimanyu film, fans expected second half to be a power packed mass action drama like Samarasimha Reddy, Narasimha Naidu and Simhadri after watching the first half. We have presented the second half in a soft way as against the expectations of the fans. Certain films need to be dealt like the films I mentioned above in Andhra in order to click at box office. That is when I decided that I should not go out of my way in scripts.
Athanokkade was a different script?
For Athanokkade, I went out of my way in terms of technical glossiness. But the script of the film is an out-and-out commercial film with revenge drama. The takings and shots of Athanokkade film are in western style. I am happy that my hard work has paid off.
What is the reason behind you becoming producer of Athanokkade?
Why would a producer put 3 crores on a hero who delivered flops? The producers I approached with the subject of Athanokkade were not willing to chip in more than 2 crores as budget. That made me change my approach. Why should I trouble the producers who are not having confidence in script? I decided that I should produce Athanokkade. I took this decision on 29th June 2004. I opened NTR Arts office on 19th August 2004. We fine tuned the script and launched the film on 15th November. We prepared a bound script and stuck to it.
How did Asadhyudu film materialize?
After the success of Athanokkade film, lots of producers and directors approached me. My priority has always been the script. I feel that crazy combinations would never work. I have listened to lots of subjects. I liked the screenplay aspect in Asadhyudu.
How different is Asadhyudu compared to Athanokkade?
Athanokkade was a revenge-based film. Asadhyudu is a revolt-based film. In Athanokkade hero takes a personal revenge where as in Asadhyudu hero revolts for the society.
To my best of knowledge Shiva is the only film where hero revolts for the cause of society without being rubbed on the personal front. If we see something in the society, a few people react and a few people doesnt. Asadhyudu is about a guy who reacted to a situation by going out of his way.
There are certain positively shocking elements in Athanokkade. Can we expects those kinds of episodes in Asadhyudu too?
There are a couple of shocking episodes in this film, but not as many as Athanokkade had. Interval episode of this film too is going to be pretty shocking one.
Athanokkade film got tremendous talk, but it did not collect at par with the buzz it generated. What do you think is the reason?
That is true. Athanokkade is a very stylish movie and it did not reach the masses in C centers. The collections are heavy for our family films in B and C centers. We did distribution for the first time. And there were certain unintentional mistakes on our side. We are learning from that trying to improve. But Asadhyudu would cater to the audience in C centers too.
What is your gut feeling about Asadhyudu as an audience?
i have seen Asadhyudu for 9 times so far. It will be a good movie where people will learn to treat society like a family. It will be an out and out commercial entertainer. The film will have good pace and is of 2:10 hours duration. After watching the film, you would come out with an impression that the movie got over in less time.
What are your favorite films in Hollywood?
Gladiator and Brave Heart are two of my favorite films in Hollywood. I would definitely do a film which mixes the elements and characterizations from Gladiator and Brave Heart.
I like the Beautiful Mind from histrionics point of view. I like Bourne Identity and Transporter too. I love cartoons and kids flicks a lot. My last kid flick was Harry Potter.
Though you come from Nandamuri family, you always maintain low profile and boy-next-door attitude?
I attribute it to my parents who raised me in that way. During childhood, we (me and my brother) used to go school in bicycles and city buses. When we studied in hostel we stayed in a small room by sharing it with six people. I used to wash my cloths. Though my grandfather was chief minister, my parents made sure that we are brought up in a very normal way.
When you analyze yourself, what do you think are your strengths?
To be frank, I never analyzed myself. As a person, my major strength is my family. My grandfather has always been blessing me. God and grandfather have always been together for me. Without them, I would not be here.
As an actor, my major strength is to accept the criticism. If people praise me, I dont heed to them. My major critics have been my friends, brother, sister and bava (brother-in-law). I do take criticisms and try to improve upon my shortcomings.
Another strength of me is my ability to interact with the fans. Different fans have different opinions. By listening to their viewpoints, I do get broader perspective of things. If I think about myself and fix preconceived notions, it would not help me grow. If I listen to people, it will help me improve myself as an actor and as a human being.
What are your future projects?
My film in the direction of Teja was launched recently. This film will go to floors either in the last week of February or in the first week of March. My next project is going to be a film to be produced by Shyam Prasad on SP Entertainments banner. We will be introducing a new director called Hari. Lokesh Dattu is going to produce another film. These are the projects I committed as of today.
How important is education to an actor?
Education definitely gives you a vast scope for interaction. It also makes us to be realistic in our lifestyle and to be self-disciplined.
I observed that people who are not familiar with Telugu started noticing you as Athanokkade hero. How do you take that compliment?
It feels good. I had two important events in my life. One is my birth and the other one is Athanokkade film that gave me birth as commercial hero. Without Athanokkade I would not have survived in this commercial world called cinema.
What are your hobbies?
Driving my car, eating out as I love food, exercise and chitchat with friends.
What are your favorite eat-outs?
The Touch, Ohris, Dakshin in Grand Kakatiya, Cinnabar Redd and Subway.
When are you going to get married?
Whenever my parents find the right girl for me.
Dont you want to find the girl yourself?
Parents brought us up for 25 years and they look after us for all the good and bad things we do. I am in this stage today because of my parents. If my parents ask me to marry a girl, I would do it without even seeing who that girl is. My brother's marriage happened in that way and I would also follow it. Marrying the girl of my parents choice would be the greatest thing I could ever do to my parents. I can buy my parents a car or a house. But they can afford those luxuries without my help. Marriage is one thing I can give them exclusively from my side.
Do you want to say anything to the visitors of idlebrain.com?
When I was in US, idlebrain was the only website I visit for movie information. I am really happy to give an interview to idlebrain. I am happy to have graduated from the status of visitor to interview-giving celebrity for idlebrain.com..
Siva Kumar (Director)
(Cinematographer & Director)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)