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Chitchat with Mahesh Babu
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Kalyani Malik

June 6, 2006

Super star Mahesh Babu took his time off to chat with scribes today afternoon at 3 pm. This is his first interview after the stupendous success of Industry hit Pokiri. He shares his views about Pokiri and Sainikudu with us -

What is the reason for calling press for an interview 5 weeks after the release?
I feel very uncomfortable to talk good about my films just after the release. It looks like I am marketing the film. Since 5 weeks have passed and Pokiri is doing extremely well, I thought it is the right time.

Pokiri is becoming industry hit now. How do you feel about it?
It is a mind blowing experience. More so because it came during the time of my sister’s marriage!

How you do feel when somebody calls you the new superstar of Telugu cinema?
I don’t listen to all that. I will concentrate on my work.

How are you celebrating the success of Pokiri?
I did not have time to celebrate the success because I had been working continuously for Sainikudu film. Till yesterday I was working for Sainikudu. I am going to Chennai day after tomorrow for 20-day action episode shoot. I worked the whole day even on the day of my sister’s marriage.

You donned lungi for the first time in Pokiri?
That is because Pokiri is a mass film and people would like to have certain songs where hero wears Lungi. It does not look nice if I wear lungi in Athadu songs. There is scope in Pokiri for mass mannerisms.

You changed your dialogue delivery in this film?
My dialogue delivery has been the same in all films. But for a couple of dialogues (cinemalu sudatledeti, nenenta edavano naaku teleedu), Puri Jagan suggested uttarandhra dialect during dubbing time. Because of the novel characterization, the dialogues might have appeared new.

Whom do you attribute the success of Pokiri?
Definitely, Puri Jagan. He is completely responsible for the success of Pokiri with his story, dialogues, characterization and direction.

How is it like working with Puri Jagan?
Working with Puri Jagan was very easy to me. We started the film in November and completed it by April and released the film on 28th April. For the first time in my career, we could able to complete the project as per the schedule.

What is the reason behind the biggest hit of Pokiri?
For all my previous films, the market penetration of C centers was not good enough. For the first time, Pokiri film is doing extremely well irrespective of type of center.

For the first time I have done an out and out mass film. The mass characterization of hero character is very good. Pokiri just happened, we did not plan it to become such a big hit.

Pokiri has expanded the market of Telugu cinema in AP and overseas?
Before Pokiri, everybody expected the Telugu film potential to be 30-32 crores. Pokiri is getting bigger figures which is very good sign for Telugu film industry.

How much do you think Pokiri should collect?
I am expecting it to collect 40 crores including overseas and other states.

How do you compare Athadu and Pokiri?
We are very much satisfied with Athadu as that film set standards among the audiences for Mahesh films. The big achievement of Athadu is that people stopped comparing my films with Okkadu. Everybody watched Athadu as an independent film without keeping Okkadu comparison in mind.

Pokiri is a huge turning point in my career. I might get super hits in future, but getting record collections is a turning point in anybody’s career. I am very lucky to get that kind of hit so early.

Where are you planning to hold 100 days function of Pokiri?
Talks are going on at present. We are going to do a very big function. That function will be the biggest function ever held. Lots of guys are coming up with lots of options. Somebody is suggesting to hold the function wherever Pokiri collected highest share.

How are you going to control the business of your next film Sainikudu after the success of Pokiri?
I need to deliver a big hit with my next film Sainikudu. I have no other option. My advantage is that we are already into making of Sainikudu even before Pokiri release. Sainikudu would definitely be a big hit. I am not bothered about the business aspect.

As a hero, don’t you take up the responsibility of business?
The business of Sainikudu is definitely more than what Pokiri has done before release. We have to keep up the business range of the film by delivering a good film. Dutt is a clever producer and he is there to look after the business of Sainikudu. Business will be done in correct standards in stead of going to outrageous figures.

Pokiri was an economical project before release because it had a bound script. Fight master Vijayan used all his experience to compose the fights very efficiently. I worked for 38 days non-stop for 4 songs and one climax of Pokiri. I even went to hospital one day because of shoulder problem.

Pokiri made table profits. Are you concentrating on such projects where producer makes profits even before the release?
There are certain other issues for my previous films about why thy did not meet table profit. I don’t want to reveal those facts now.

Tell us about Sainikudu?
It is also an out and out commercial film. I have a great tuning with Guna Sekhar. This film is being made on huge mount-up. It has a totally different backdrop of Warangal. It is too early to reveal more information about the film.

Lots of people are of opinion that Pokiri became such a big hit because you are in the film and you suited the role very well?
I can’t say that Pokiri became hit because of me. Everything gelled well. The character suited my acting style

Your films Athadu and Pokiri broke the jinx that guns won’t work and only swords work at Telugu film box office?
Telugu film industry is in the brink of change. Audiences are looking for freshness in films. Films made with outdated formulas are not working at box office. Hindi film industry has already changed and Telugu film industry is on the verge of change. Hindi film industry changed because of overseas market. Tamil film industry is always been making very good films. Out Telugu film industry is lagging behind. May be because the way we picturise songs. Films like 7G Brindavan Colony and Anand did well and it shows that audiences are ready for good yet different films.

Why don’t you do films like 7GBC and Anand?
If I do those films, you will come to me and say that these films are not doing well in B and C centers. When we sell films for big prices, we need to cater to all kinds of centers. If I do an intelligent film, will the guy sitting on wooden chair in non A/C theater of C center understand? We need to strike a balance. And it worked for Pokiri film.

There are comments on Pokiri that there is obscenity in certain scenes?
I do agree that there is a bit of obscenity, but in allowable limits. That is the reason why Pokiri got A certificate. If you observe certain films with U/A certificate, there are scenes like playing football with amputated human head.

What is your favorite scene in Pokiri?
The confrontation scene between Prakash Raj and Nasser. That scene turned the film around. The energy levels went really high in auditorium during that scene. Hats off to Puri Jagan. I loved my characterization, body language and dialogues. I could perform very easily on the screen and there is no awkward moment in my performance in Pokiri.

Your mannerisms and expressions in Pokiri are very rare compared to other Telugu films. We have been seeing such kind of performances in Hollywood films?
I was trying that since the beginning of my career. In between I use to get confused whether to do commercial acting or realistic acting. I used to get stuck in between. I started believing in myself after Okkadu film. I stopped listening to others and started trusting my own instincts about acting. I did what I believed in. I think people got connected with my acting with Pokiri film. It is a personal victory for me. I am really happy.

You delivered two consecutive number one films (Athadu & Pokiri) in USA. What do you think of overseas market?
There is huge market in overseas. And we are exploiting it slowly. It is just opening up. We should promote films better and make the market even bigger in overseas.

You have done experimental and different films like Takkari Donga and Bobby in the past. Will you consider doing such projects in future?
It is very convenient for me to call Bobby and Takkari Donga as experimental films. Actually those were stupid films. I was in the learning process at that time. Now I can confidently say that it is very difficult for me to do those stupid films.

What kind of films would you be doing in future?
I will do good films. We get a judgment while listening to scripts. That judgment improves as we make more and more films and gain experience.

Lady luck seems to be working for you after marriage as you got back-to-back hits for the first time?
After marriage, I entered very exciting phase of my career. I never had back-to-back super hits in my career earlier. This point of time is very crucial for me.

What are your future projects?

S No. Producer Name Banner Director
1 G Ramesh Babu Krishna Productions will be confirmed in 10 days
2 KL Narayana Durga Arts Jasti Hemambar
3 MS Raju Sumanth Arts
(Hare Rama Hare Krishna)
4 Arjuna Raju Roja Movies -
5 Manjula Mega Super Good Films -

What compliments did you get from Chiranjeevi?
Chiranjeevi has always been very genuine to me. That is the greatness of that man. He watches films with a comman audience perspective. He spoke to me over phone for 15 minutes and explained me which scene he liked in the film. Chiranjeevi is very happy because Pokiri has become such a good hit.

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