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Interview with Venkat
Date: June 27, 2008, Hyderabad

Striking biceps, soft poise, intense looks and spontaneous voice is all about Venkat, whom Akkineni Nagarjuna had introduced to the Telugu film industry with Sri Seetharamula Kalyanamu Choothamu Rarandi. His current film Koncham Kothaga, a murder mystery, is releasing on June 28th. Venkat still holds that strong build to make the girls’ hearts flap. Hailing from Vijayawada, amply exposed to the culture of Bollywood, he believes in God Almighty. “I am thankful to the audiences, who have not forgotten me. But, what can I do? It is a big task to shine in the industry without backing and without a godfather. If your father or brother is not a producer or big actor, never ever think of success.” He says the stalemate was over. “I am not in a hurry, though my confidence level tells me I can deal a thousand projects simultaneously. The greatest gift I got from Telugu audiences is that they recognize me wherever I go and ask me when would be my next film.” He expresses strong doubts about our heroes putting on six/eight pack abs in just a few months, and at the same time, getting incredibly slim in a couple of months. “Drugs or something foul behind these strategies. After all, I am adept to gym and body building for the last one decade.” Excerpts from an exclusive interview to Idlebrain.

Tell us about your journey in film industry?
It all happened when Akkineni Nagarjuna gave me an opportunity to make my debut with the film Sri Seetharamula Kalyanamu Chootamu Rarandi in the direction of YVS Chowdary. Though it seemed long ago, the people had not forgotten me. I am fresh in their minds. A number of heroes have come and gone. Still, I continue to remain with them. Not that I am big star, but I believe in capabilities. I was never after chances. At the same time, I didn’t get any big chances. I am a Vijayawada product. I moved to Mumbai just like that. I observed lot many things. That helps me a great deal. In fact, my media friends ask me why I had taken a big gap in the career. But, I had never missed the industry. On and often, I have been doing some good roles. I didn’t get any commercial break. There was no back support to me, and no guidance. Most of my career, I was left in a dilemma. I don’t blame anybody for the stalemate. Film making involves money. Now, I am into my production house – Sapara Arts. My movie – Koncham Kothaga – is releasing on June 28th.

You were in Mumbai for several years. What about your Bollywood connections?
When I was in Mumbai, it didn’t mean that I was totally after Bollywood. Recently, I starred in the film Rafta Rafta, which was a moderate success. Its production happened for one and half years. It was very happening. Bollywood is like an ocean. If God wills, I can catch the anchor. My first and foremost concentration is in Tollywood.

What is special with Koncham Kothaga?
True to the title, it has something new. It has no songs and it has no powerful dialogues. Everything depends on screenplay, with a thin storyline. My director Raju Rajendra Prasad designed it to be a thriller with a supernatural element too. It is a commercial experiment. You have just six characters. Most shoot is done indoors. There is no vulgarity at all. I don’t say it’s a hero-based film. Story and treatment are dominating factors.

How comfortable are you with this comeback film?
I am happy. Producer Satish Pal Raj is my uncle. He is an MLA. He understood me very much. He knows my urge. It is a blessing in disguise that I got his patronage. Everybody is friendly. Director Raju Rajendra Prasad is a down-to-earth person. He is very accommodative when it comes to creativity. We all worked like team members. These efforts will sure reflect on the screen.

What about your costar Tulip Joshi?
She is a wonderful crazy heroine. She is a busy girl in Bollywood. She just accepted our film because she liked the script. We also thought she alone could do justice to the characterization fixed on her. It has a dash of evilness. I feel happy having co-starred a talented Bollywood actress.

Most people in industry and audience think that you are related to the Akkineni’s family. How did it happen?
I am not related Akkineni’s family. I too heard people think that I am related to Nagarjuna. Just, I worked in Sri Seetharamula Kalyanamu Chootamu Rarandi, which was produced by Nagarjuna. YVS Chowdary was searching for a new guy, energetic guy. I was found to be the right person. Nagarjuna got me the break. My money was paid and I was out, after the project got finished. I will never forget his gesture.

You are well built with striking biceps and muscles. Did you ever try for six pack abs?
Gym and body building is not new to me. Since my childhood, I have been an active guy. A decade ago, I started body building and I have never left my regular practice. I know each and every inch of body building. It is my passion. All this six pack and eight pack abs is a silly thing going on in Tollywood.

In how many months can a young actor get abdominal packs?
It is a difficult process, requires tough regimen. I don’t understand when our people (heroes) develop six pack abs in just a few months. My experience tells me. Building the abdominal muscles in a couple of months is impossible. Some steroids or drugs are definitely involved. They (either directors or heroes) think the audience will get mesmerized with their muscles. Developing muscles that way (using steroids) will pose serious health problems in future. People who do become slim in a few months also must be on abnormal procedures. A health risk is ahead of them.

What is your opinion about present day film industry?
I am both disappointed and happy. Taken aback because it has become a monopoly. Happy because the industry is fast growing, also identifying the new talent. Whether they are given the right place or not, it is always ignored. Tollywood is nothing but the story of just 10 producers, 10 directors and 10 heroes. An actor’s brother becomes the hero. Now, it is the turn of directors to introduce their brothers. They have access to the film producers and they can manage things easily.

Do you think it is difficult for a new comer?
Definitely, hundred percent. Gone were those days. There is nothing wrong in this. Producers do spend a lot of money. They want guarantee to their money. They must get back their money. So, they must depend on running heroes and their kith and kin. Distributors and exhibitors too have joined the fray in this direction.

But, hit films have come with new comers. Why such pessimism?
It’s not like that. It’s the prevailing trend. Films like Happy Days come once in a bloom. It doesn’t mean that new comers have a field day in Tollywood. They belong to where they actually belong to. I hope this is slowly changing for the good.

How do you look at our heroines?
Most of the girls are not our heroines. They are imported for two reasons. Number one: Lack of native girls. Number Two: For additional or unlimited glamour. Most of the imported heroines don’t care for the story. They don’t even care for their characterization. They don’t involve themselves with the project. Just they need money. Everything is artificial. This nonsense will not continue for long. But, our Bollywood villains are doing a good job.

Any sour experience in your career?
Yes. It was when the film Charminar got released. The film was really good. But, there was no publicity at all.

Any costly lesson you learnt?
Heroes of one region will be zeroes in other areas. Heroines, villains and other artistes can fit into the bill of any movie, irrespective of region or language. But not the hero. He should be the son of the soil. Though we admire a Sharukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan, we don’t really enjoy and even shun their films if they act in Telugu or Tamil. Same is the case with our South heroes there.

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