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Interview with Sayaji Shinde by Jeevi

Coming from farming background, Sayaji started his career as watchman with a meager pay of Rs. 165 per month. But his passion for acting drew him to the theater and films. At present, he is one of the top notch villains of Telugu film industry and charges around 14 lakhs per film. met up with Sayaji Shinde at his private residence. Here are the excerpts -

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Tell us about your background?
I belong to a farming family of a tiny village in Maharashtra. I completed my BA in Marathi in Satara town. After completion of my BA, I worked as a watchman for Government's Irrigation Department for a salary for Rs. 165 per month (around year 1974). I worked in that position for a couple of years during which I developed interest in theater with the influence of theater personality Sunil Kulakarni. I started my career in theater in 1978. I acted in lots of one-act plays. Then I shifted to Mumbai and got trained in workshop of Rohini Hattangadi. I worked my way up in theater of Mumbai. I acted in a play called Hizda (Eunuch) in 1987. The people who saw me in that role thought that I was a hizda for real. Theater celebrities like Poola Deshpande and Vijay Tendulkar predicted that I would reach greater heights. I got maharashtra state award for my performance in Marathi film Abholi.

How has Shool happened?
Majon Bajpai happened to see photos and an article on me in TOI (Times of India). He recommended me to Ram Gopal Varma. Ram Gopal Varma just glanced at me for 20 sec and he selected me for the role of Bichoo Yadav in Shool film. That is how entered Bollywood.

Later on I acted in a Tamil film called 'Bharati' (a biographical film on one of the greatest poets of Tamil). I got tremendous appreciation for my role in that film. I also acted in blockbusters like Alagi and Dhool.

How did Tagore happen to you?
I worked for Calcutta Mail film that was jointly produced by Allu Arvind and Aswini Dutt. They selected me for the role of villain in Tagore film.

What is you experience of working with Chiranjeevi?
I remember the day 1 of Tagore shoot. Chiranjeevi asked me if I were comfortable doing the role. Then I requested him that I would like to do my own dubbing. I can't see somebody else dubbing my voice on screen. Voice gives life to the character (aawaz is jaan). Chiranjeevi responded immediately and cancelled my shoot for that day and assigned me an assistant who would teach me dialogues in Telugu. Since I am from theater, I have the habit of byhearting the entire dialogue version a day before. I followed the similar pattern for my film career also. I byheart all the dialogues a day before the shoot. I dubbed myself in all languages - Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Marathi and Kannada' - I acted in so far. I would like to thank Chiranjeevi from the bottom of my heart for understanding me and letting me to dub my own voice.

How old are you now and how do you keep yourself physically fit?
I am 47 now. I do Yoga regularly for physical fitness. I practice voice exercises to keep voice effective.

All the characters you played so far are of villainous nature? Don't you want to play any other characters?
All the characters I played so far are of political villain type. For a change, I am doing a positive character in Nagarjuna's Super. I play a cop. I would be interacting with comedians like Ali and Sunil and comedy arises out of situations. I am playing heroine's father in YVS Chowdary's Devadasu.

How different is Telugu film industry from Hindi film industry?
It takes less time to make films in Telugu. It takes 2 - 3 years to make most of the Bollywood films. It's easy to stay concentrated in Telugu film industry. There are lots of politics and ego hassles in Bollywood and environment in Telugu film industry is cordial. Telugu filmmakers are thorough professionals.

You solo photo is featured on the cover page of India Today Telugu. How do you feel about it?
It's been 17 years since I came into Showbiz. For the first time a magazine came up with my photo on cover page. I am feeling extremely happy. I am grateful to India Today.

You started your career as watchman with Rs. 165 per month as salary and now you are one of the top notch villains in Telugu film industry charging 14 lakhs per film as remuneration. How do you feel about it?
I do definitely miss those days when I used to do one-act plays. When I was earning Rs. 165, I used to give 150 to my family and do partying with remaining 15. At that time, my dream salary was Rs. 400/-. I attribute it all to the destiny. I am happy now because I have been doing the work which I always wanted to do. More than money what matters to me is job satisfaction.

What are the Telugu films you acted in so far?
Tagore, Veede, Andhrawala, Gudumba Shankar and Nayudamma

What are the films you are working in now?
Super, PB Arts film (Bala Krishna), Athadu, Andhrudu, Devadasu and That is Pandu.

What is your objective?
When I did stage plays, I used to think that I would change the entire world with my performance in plays. Later on I realized that it is not possible. Right now, I want to entertain people. That is my aim in life.

Other Interviews
Gangaraju Gunnam (Producer)
Meghana Naidu (Heroine)
Venkatesh (Hero)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
Deepak (Hero)
Siddardh (Hero)
MS Raju (Producer)
Chiranjeevi (Hero)


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