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Interview with Venkatesh

Venkatesh is undoubtedly the most consistent box officer performer in Telugu film industry today. He has been consistently churning out box office delights for many years. In spite of huge successes, Venkatesh always keeps low profile and let his work speak for himself. met with Venkatesh at his plush office in Rama Naidu studios on the afternoon of 20th April for an exclusive interview. He had a couple of books (a biography of Marlon Brando and a spiritual book by Ramana Maharshi) on his desk. Here are the excerpts -

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Tell us about Subhash Chandrabose that is releasing on 22nd April?
It has a novel story. We had an opportunity of taking the present story to period time. Films with this backdrop have not come in Telugu for a long time. Hence I was tempted to start on working on this particular storyline. It is also a prestigious project to Vyjayanthi banner. It is the 101st film of K Raghavedra Rao. 60% of the film is period-based and 40% of the film is contemporary. The period part of the film would give a different experience to the audiences. At the same time, this character of Subhash Chandra Bose is not the character of Netaji. It is a fictional character called Bose who is an ardent admirer of Subhash Chandra Bose. Even though it is a serious subject, the narration goes in a lighter vein commercial pattern. The period part of the film is not treated as a documentary. We cleverly blended the novel subject with commercial touch. It excites me as I have never done a film with this kind of backdrop in the past.

We deliberately tried not to make the film a documentary type. This film would have masala scenes, good music and an ending that gives a message. Subhash Chandra Bose offers some variety to Telugu film lovers for this summer. This film comes up with a message that national traitors would not be spared. Somebody from public would rise to the occasion to finish off the national traitors (desa drohulu).

Subhash Chandra Bose is star packed flick with two heroines (Shriya & Genelia), a white heroine playing Britisher's role, Gulshan Grover, Tom Alter, Brahmanandam, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Venu Madhav, Ali. We are trying to give new flavor with this film. Let us hope for the best.

Did you take any precautions while dubbing for the character in period era?
There is not much variation in language and modulation aspect for that character. We used simple Telugu. There are a couple of emotional scenes of confrontation with British people in which I used different way of modulation.

Which song did you like the most in Subhah Chandra Bose from visuals and picturization point of view?
Neredi Pallu is the best song which is picturized in a very voluptuous way. Another catchy song of the film is Jajiri Jajiri. We have a patriotic Jaihind Vandemataram song that comes in 2-3 places of the film. This song has got certain emotions and is visually shot well.

Tell us about your latest blockbuster Sankranthi?
I have interrupted the schedules of Subhash Chandra Bose to accept and make Sankranthi film. I knew that people were expecting a family oriented film like Sankranthi after Gharshana film. Sankranthi is playing really well even after completion of 50 days. It is poised to create a record in Vizag and in lots of B and C centers. It has become a big silent hit. People always accept a well made family drama. The family audiences above 40 year old who never venture out of their house to watch films are coming out and watching Sankranthi film. I had been toying with the idea of doing Sankranthi for the past 3 years, but only gave a go-ahead last year because I knew it was the right time.

You are clicking in a big way whenever you make family oriented sentiment films. People are not embracing you with the same fervor whenever you do mass films. What do you think is the reason?
I just believing in doing my part with 100% conviction for any film I am offered. I am not affected by the result of success or failure. I have stopped playing the game long back. I am watching myself now. I can say that I am more sincere in my work than before and I am more concerned towards the producer. I am strict with my work. There are only two states for a film. A hit or a flop! Either people accept the film or not! And I accept what people give me. But it does not stop me from continuing my work.

Your kind of films like Sankranthi run for a long period of time and collect at par with any of the big mass hits. Where as films done by mass stars start off with great openings and falter in the long run. Due to the openings mass heroes get, media and people tend to give more hype for mass stars than stars like you who have more potential in the long run. Do you feel being robbed off the fame due to this?
I attribute this phenomenon more to the media. Media try to focus on films with huge openings and they often tend to ignore films that run steadily and win in the long run. As of today, I am in a position where I don't have to ask anybody to promote such kind of films. Most of the people don't even know how much silent hits like Vasantham and Sankranthi collected in the total run. Media should find out how the films are running after a couple of weeks of release and it should encourage others to attempt these kinds of films. That is the reason why I attempt a family oriented sentimental film for every 3 films I make.

You started doing roles that suit you age now?
I know that I have matured in age now and I am attempting those kinds of roles that suit my age. If you checkout my character in Sankranthi, it is of an elder brother of 4 siblings. I am gracefully started looking into those kinds of characters.

If you look at the Hollywood, all top stars start their career literally in 40's. Heroes have their prime time in their 40's and 50's.

Tell us why Gharshana failed to get the cash registers ringing?
Gharshana film would not appeal to larger class of audience. It has niche market. Hence we must have made Gharshana in a limited budget. I think that Gharshana slipped out of the budget by a couple of crores. I get fan mail for every film I do. The fan mail I got for Gharshana film is from totally different set of audience. I got tremendous applause from my friends in states. It appealed to youngsters and urbane audience who love sleek films.

When can we expect 'Professor Parvatisam' film from you?
I seriously get tempted to make that film. It needs at least 6 months of workout to get my body molded to the character. The other day I saw an ad in TV with Amir Khan doing the role of woman. It needs lot of alteration of my body.

I want to do different characters and wide variety of roles. I am not able to get access to directors who could offer me such kinds of roles. Nobody offers me 'out of the world' kind of characters because of the kinds of audience we have.

Do you read books related to film personalities?
I picked up this book on Marlon Brando because I like him the most. I also like Robert Redford. I don't read many books related to films or film personalities. I am a great follower of Ramana Maharshi. He opened up a lot in me. I grabbed the maximum knowledge from his works. I enjoy reading books by Ramana Maharshi.

What is your opinion of percentage system that is recently introduced by AP State Government. This kind of system would affect big budget films. Subhash Chandra Bose being the first big budget film to be released after this system introduced, how do you feel about it?
Honestly, I never looked into the business side from the beginning. So I never studied about which system is right and which system is wrong. I finally feel that one should look into how much work they put on the script while making any film. If you have a good script, it would become a hit film no matter which system is prevailing. Most of the filmmakers are not concentrating on making good scripts and they are commenting about advantages/disadvantages of a system. They do have a right to comment about it, because some people of getting affected by it. What I personally feel is that the Government should have given some time (couple of months) before implementing it so that the producers could chalk down their budgets to suit the new system. I respect whichever system is introduced by the Government. Beyond all that, we should be more disciplined in script work and budget of the film, which most of us are not currently doing.

Suresh Productions has got such a facility that a producer could walk in with a script, finish his film off and go out with the prints. When you have such a terrific infrastructural support, why don't you produce experimental/different films in low budget and act in them?
A couple of years back I mentioned that I would do such films. But it is all about time management. I am spending little more time with my family right now. Once I get some time, I would start doing it. At that same time, I have to be successful when I do such kinds of films so that it would encourage other filmmakers and heroes to experiment with low budget films. There is no point in making such films if they were going to fail. When I make such films, I ensure that I make commercially successful films.

Who do you think is the most brilliant Indian heroine?
One has to be very camera friendly to become good actor/actress. At times, few very good directors manage to exploit the histrionics from the heroines. Among the young heroines, I find Trisha to be the best. She could express herself very well. Earlier Soundarya was very comfortable with camera. Sridevi is great. I find Kajol and Rani Mukharjee to be the best camera friendly actresses. Kajol is a very good example for lots of heroines. Others are of little more conscious of their looks etc. Kajol mastered the technique of being free to the camera.

You are racing ahead in terms of connectivity in your films. The audience tend to connect themselves with you when you are doing emotional scenes. How did you master that art?
In my early films, my emotions were not natural. At that time, industry was going through such a phase that emotions are said to be performed in certain formats. During Chanti time I started doing crazy things by standing in front of the mirror. I started getting genuine emotions when I focus on something. I used to take common man (men on the road) as an example and perform those things naturally in front of mirror and acting out. I have been through lots of emotions since childhood. I knew deep down that I could come up with any expression. Since then I started applying them while doing my characters in different films. Whenever I have the most natural expression, I knew that I was going to make audience laugh/cry. I was honest whenever I do an emotional scene and I believed in the situation. That is when I decided that I am going to stay here for a long time and some director would come and exploit me as an actor.

What about the comedy?
Times are changing and lots of new films are being appreciated. You should look at those films and observe the expressions. Regarding comedy, I always felt comfortable. At one stage, I saw Jim Carry's film and he took the comedy into another level. He got something else which nobody got.

Which film brought the maximum performance out of you an artist?
I got drained out when I did Ganesh film. That film was set up in Hospital backdrop and scenes were emotional. I tried to do emotions in different fashion. It took really a month for me after the film to get out of the spell it created.

Which is best film you saw in the recent times?
Recently I saw Black film. I was amazed by the film and wondered when I were going to get these kinds of roles. I am really happy for Rani Mukherjee who has done a wonderful job. And great performance by Amitab Bachchan! Sanjay Leela Bhansali is awesome.

Tell us about your favorite Hollywood films?
God Father is my all time favorite film. I do never get tired of watching it again and again. I like all old classics like Gone with the wind, Roman holiday, Ben Hur etc. Forrest Gump is one of my hot favorite films. I am looking forward for some director who could offer me such a kind of role. In the recent times, I liked Gladiator. I am planning to watch Million Dollar Baby very soon.

Do you have any message to visitors?
Work hard, but try to find your trueself. Don't think that the outside world is really real. The real world is with in you. No matter how big successful person you are outside, you grow as much inside. To grow inside you better take up God seriously. Get the spiritual knowledge as fast as you can. Don't postpone the God within you. Keep in touch with your trueself, not with the ego. If you are going to postpone the Truth, you would end up living in a prison called outside world.

Interview by Jeevi

Other Interviews
Gowri Mumjal
Deepak (Hero)
Siddardh (Hero)
MS Raju (Producer)
Chiranjeevi (Hero)
Raj Nidimoru & Krishna DK (directors)
Allu Arjun
Charmy (Heroine)


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