Rao Ramesh is the son of the legendary actor Rao Gopal Rao. He never wanted to become an actor. He wanted to become an acclaimed still photographer. But the destiny has other plans for him. He became a late bloomer in Telugu film industry. His character as reformed Naxalite in Gamyam film changed his future forever. He got excellent feedback for the terrific portrayal. Idlebrain.com met with this humble Rao Ramesh for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts
I was born in Srikakulam and brought up in Chennai. I completed my B. Com in Chennai. I wanted to drop out of school in my +2. I got interested in still photography during that time. I used to go to British library and American library to study books on photography. I used to be so much passionate about reading that I used to forget shaving my beard.
I joined KS Prakasa Rao (brother of K Raghavendra Rao) as an assistant. But he did not give any petty work because of the respect he carries towards my father. During that time cinematographer VSR Swamy encouraged me and sent me to a friend of his at Bangalore. I learnt about industrial photography over there. They used Cinar cameras which costs around 16 lakhs each. I also applied for a course in live action and animation in The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, California. But my parents did not want to get into it.
My father Rao Gopal Rao passed away in 1994. I did not know what to do. I was idle without doing any work for 7 years. My mother was a Harikatha exponent before she got married. My father belongs to Rajas dynasty. And theirs was a love marriage as he liked my mother seeing her performing a Harikatha. My mother side belongs to the family of Karnatic musicians.
I penned a couple of stories and wanted to direct films. But my mother suggested that I should act. I did not know anything about acting. She brainwashed me for a year and made me agree to act.
Ghantasala Ratna Kumar was doing TV serials and he made me act in one such serial. The opening shot was about getting intimate with a girl and I was all nervous. That serial was stalled in the middle.
Then I got an offer to act as the brother of Simran in Bala Krishna’s Seema Simham. It was a small and passive character without a dialogue. I thought that I would get many offers as I was the son of Rao Gopal Rao. But Telugu film industry proved me wrong and sent me away. I was back in Chennai and started acting in serials like Pavitra Bandham, Kalavari Kodalu etc. I had done over 1000 episodes. I worked on TV serials for over 4 and half years.
Bibo Srinivas, Murali Srinivas and Panguluri Srinivas were my classmates in Chennai. Director Krish is the brother-in-law of Bibo Srinivas. Krish was trying to direct a film for the past three years. I am an avid reader of poetry and am very fond of C Narayana Reddy’s work ‘Kavitha Naa Chirunama’. When I was in Hyderabad 3 years back, they made me narrate some poetry to Krish. Krish liked the ferocity in my narration and promised me a role in his film. I thought that the film would happen in a couple of months. It took over three years to start Krish’s Gamyam.
Narayana Murthy Yeleti is another person whom I should be thankful to. During that time I met Chandra Sekhar Yeleti who gave me a small role in his Okkadunnadu film. I am the guy who holds the blood wanted placards during the beginning of the film. I was flown to Mumbai to do those scenes. I was so real in that film that when I stood at Haji Ali, Mumbai with that placard, an old lady gave some money to me thinking that I was a begger. I refused any remuneration from the producer Cherry for giving me an opportunity to work in that film. I liked Chandra Sekhar Yeleti eye for details in the film.
I shifted my base to Hyderabad only because of the faith I have on Bibo Srinivas, Murali Srinivas and Krish. They asked me to shift to Hyderabad. I did the role of a reformed naxalite in Gamyam film. And the response has been terrific.
What do you think is your strength?
Ravi Radha told that I look different on screen, in photograph and in real. This is a very rare ability and only few people like Sivaji Ganesan are gifted with such qualities.
What are your future projects?
I had been signed for SS Rajamouli’s film with Ram Charan Teja even before the release of Gamyam film. I would like to thank Rajamouli for reposing his faith on me. I am doing a shocking role in that film. I completed my part of it in the Rajasthan shoot that was held in the last month. I am also doing interesting and vibrantly different roles in Kotha Bangaru Lokam, Avakaya Biryani etc..
What did you learn as a son from your legendary actor father Rao Gopal Rao?
1. Never lie: My father was a great fan of leaders like Jaya Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Acharya Ranga etc. He hates people who lie. He warned all us kids not to lie.
2. Discipline: My father comes from the lineage of Rajas. And he made sure that we are thoroughly disciplined.
3. Reading Telugu: My father is very fond of Telugu language. I never saw him uttering any bad word. He used to have a big library of Telugu literature and used to read Telugu literature extensively whenever he gets some free time. He used to make me read editorials of Eenadu newspaper and Indian Express. If he finds any fault with my reading, he used to scold me a lot. I used to practice Telugu reading a lot just to make sure that I would not do any mistakes in his presence.
Do you have any regrets regarding your father if you look back?
Yes. I should have interacted with him for more time. My conversation with him during the entire life time would not exceed a page. He was like a tiger when he was home. I wish I had interacted with him more and shared lots of joys with him like many of my friends used to do with their respective parents.
He has a heart of gold. And every day around 50 people used to visit our house for lunches. When my father was in ICU, those people who enjoyed the fruits of my father were never around us.
What did you like in his philosophy?
A year before he expired, my father asked me what I wanted to do in life. I was interested in share market (during Harshad Mehta scam time). My father told me, “share trading ante okkadive bratakaram. Naluguritho brathike profession enchuko” (Trading shares is like living for yourself. Do a job that enables to share the fruits with the people around you). He used to think that stock market is about exploiting the hard work that is done by others.
How did you cope up with financial pressure?
I should thank my brother Rao Kranthi Kumar who has been working as senior systems analyst in a software company at Tampa, USA. He helped me a lot and supported during the time of crisis.
What about your marriage?
I am happily married. I have two kids. A son and a daughter.
Do you have any favorite actors?
I don’t have any favorite actors. I try to learn positive things from everybody. If I fall in love with any actor, I might get inspired by them and end up imitating them. Hence I try not to have any favorites.
What are the films you liked among the ones your father did?
Muthyala Muggu, Vetagadu and Yamagola are few among the others.
What is the goal of your life?
I want to live a meaningful life by helping out the people around me.
Gopi Mohan (Writer)
Ajay Sastri (Director)
Vara Mullapudi (Director)
Bhumika Chawla (Actress)
Jagapati Babu (Actor)
Vijay C Kumar (Cinematographer)
Sekhar Kammula (Director)
Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
Srinivasa Reddy (Director)
Mickey J Meyer (Music director)
R Narayana Murthy (Producer)
Baba Sehgal (Singer)
Buddhadev Dasgupta (Director)
Tom Alter (Actor)
Kundan Shah (Director)
Priyadarshini Ram (Director)
Selva Raghavan (Director)
Vijaya Bhaskar (Director)
R Ravinder (Art director)
Chandra Sekhar Yeleti (Director)
Mohana Krishna Indraganti (Director)
Dega Deva Kumar Reddy (Producer)
Nidhi Prasad (Director)
Hema Chandra (Singer)
Vijay C Chakravarthy (Cinematographer)
VN Aditya (Director)