A child prodigy is one with highly imaginative parents. This is apt for 8-year-old Neha Thota, a Florida born Telugu girl. At the age of 5, she endeared herself to the Telugu audience with her innocent and naughty performance in SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster Vikramarkudu. Later, offers landed up in her little lap – Anasuya, Ramudu, Aadi Vishnu and Sarkar. But, the promos of RGV’s film Raksha for the last few days aroused curiosity among the viewers. Who is this girl, making daredevil performance as the one victimized by notorious and spine chilling black magic? The twirl of her eyeballs with mouth wide open and hair let loose – as all these get focused in the backdrop of menacing atmosphere and sinister music, the audiences are nosy about the girl. In an exclusive interview to Idlebrain.com, Neha, who plays in and as Raksha, says: “My grandmother told me cock and bull stories. I hated them. I wanted stories which could ignite my mind to experience new things.” She speaks about black magic, frightening scenes in Raksha, favorite food and last but not the least – her ambition to become a doctor. Mark her cute funny replies.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Neha. Neha Thota. I was born in Florida (US). But, I don’t know much about the US. My parents came here (India) when I was a three year old. When I ask my mummy where I was born, she said it was there in America. I have photographs with me. But, I don’t carry it now. I will show you if you come to my house. Now, I am studying III class.
How did you get this offer in Raksha?
I don’t know. My parents took me to some office and I was selected. This is not my first film. You can see me in Vikramarkudu. That was my first film. Rajamouli uncle saw my photograph on my school books (published by the management for promotion as the girl looked cute). First, he was angry with me. After many days, my mother told several things to me. First, I was afraid. Later, I became bold. I finished the shots just like that. After that, I did in films – Anasuya, Ramudu, Telugu Sarkar (She wants to differentiate with RGV’s Sarkar), and now Raksha.
Are you not afraid of doing horror scenes?
Yes. Doing two scenes, I was afraid. I kept weeping for two hours after the shots.
What were those shots?
Belts were tied to me and I was lifted in the air with wires. Going up and down with the cot shaking mysteriously – these shots frightened me. But, everything was okay at the next hour.
Do you know what black magic is?
No. I saw some magic works at school. Black magic I don’t know. If the magic is black, it is black magic. Anthena?
What kind of training you took to act as Raksha?
Vamsy uncle (director) would call me and tell me what I should do. I kept his words in my mind. When he says action, I just did it. Everybody liked me and my acting. Many uncles (crew) brought me chocolates. Whenever I wept, chocolate was ready before me.
How many days you worked for the film? Doesn’t it affect your school going?
I worked for 35 days, my mother said. My school teachers and my friends like me very much. Some people talk to me and some don’t. My teachers are very happy with me. My mom and dad spoke to the head master and I don’t know anything about that. When shooting is there, we mark the dates in my diary and take signs (signature) of the HM. That’s all. I have to inform my class teacher also? My quarterly exams are from 23rd.
Did your class teacher see your films?
I don’t think so. She speaks only English. She doesn’t know Telugu.
How do you feel watching your movies?
(Somehow a matured answer) Yes. When I saw Vikramarkudu when it was released, I saw myself in my role. But, after several years (now), I could see a character in that. There is a big difference in my watching films – then and now.
You liked shooting? Or your parents brought you here?
Actually, I didn’t like acting in films. My mom and dad forced me to act. After two films, I liked this shooting.
You like going to school or shooting? Why?
I like shooting, because I get lot of chocolates to eat. When there is no shot, I can play. Going to school, there is nothing but just sitting in the desk and looking at the blackboard. If I don’t do homework, I will be full of tension.
What is your favorite dish?
Bendakaya Fry (Ladies Finger Fry). This will improve the brain.
Non- veg dish?
I don’t like non-veg much. But, in shooting they get me that stuff. I like chicken… only very little… not much. Mutton, I don’t like.
Who is your favorite hero?
(Looking suspiciously she shows the picture of Jagapati Babu on the poster at the Press meet venue of Raksha. When asked to say, she kept laughing)
Who is your favorite heroine?
Nobody, I don’t like anybody.
I don’t know. I don’t like them. That’s all. Why should I like them?
You worked with a big heroine like Bhumika in Anasuya. Do you like her?
No. How many times I have to tell you that I don’t like heroines?
What kind of films you see? What about TV programs?
I don’t watch films regularly. I do it once in a month like that. I like Tom & Jerry.
Your mom said you have a brother. How you play with him?
More than playing, I quarrel with him. His name is Badri. I hide his pen or geometry box in my bag. He beats me, and I will beat him. But, he likes me very much.
What is your hobby?
I like piano game.
What is your favorite song?
Dhoom II – Crazy.
You get lot of money acting in films? What gift you get for your brother?
I don’t know about that money. My parents take care of that. So far, I didn’t bring any gifts for my brother.
What kind of stories you like?
My grandmother will say that she has got lot of stories. But, always she tells me cock and bull stories. Mulakkayantha Musalavva, Dosakayanta Donga, Potlakayanta Police… All this nonsense. I don’t like them. The old lady keeps a big pose and asks me to sleep with all these silly stories. I simply laugh at this stuff.
Do you like rhymes?
Yes. I sang one rhyme in Raksha film also. That is … Rain drops, rain drops, where do you stay... It is there in our II class.
Who do you like most?
Just my mom and dad and my brother.
You like Hyderabad or your parents’ place?
I like city. I don’t like villages (mom’s place is Challapalli and dad’s, Gudlavalleru in Krishna district). If I go to village, I will not have any friends. There will be nothing to play.
What’s your next project?
I don’t know its name. But, my parents took me to some office. I got selected.
What’s your ambition?
To become a doctor.
Why doctor? Not heroine?
No, I don’t want to be a heroine. I shall become a doctor. I want to serve people (Praja Seva).
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Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
PG Vinda (Cinematographer)
Hari Yelleti (Director)
Kishore Ganji (Producer)
Ram Mohan (Producer)
Salim Panda (Actor)
Surekha Vani (Actress)
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Uday Kiran (Hero)
Aditi Sharma (Heroine)
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