Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Interview With Mahesh Babu

he son of the Superstar and the reigning prince of Telugu filmdom - that's Mahesh Babu for you. You say this and you have said everything you need to say about this ebullient actor. The celluloid world welcomed him as a child artiste with the movie 'Poratam' and his place in the Telugu cinema was firmly cemented with a succession of movies including 'Balachandrudu', 'Koduku Diddina Kapuram' and 'Anna Thammudu'. Today with films like 'Rajakumarudu', 'Takkari Donga', 'Nijam' and 'Okkadu' which have stamped him as actor of a high caliber, he is on the peaks of success with 'Athadu' which has set the cash registers ringing and the audience highly excited. Here are the excerpts from an interview with him.

What do you feel about the success of Athadu?

I feel that this is the biggest hit so far in my career in all respects including the money it has collected. Its success has filled me with a new zeal and new inspiration.

What, in your opinion, are the chief features of the movie that attract you?

Most importantly the characterization of the hero. That is what holds my utmost interest. As far as I know this is the first subject of its kind in any Telugu movie. The hero's character in 'Athadu' has two sides. His transformation from a negative role to a positive one is really fascinating. The script writer and the director being the same led to the advantage of molding the character in a way that is really interesting. I okayed the role because I was sure that the script writer and the director being the same, the hero's character would shape up very well, and I was not wrong.

Is it totally a director's movie, or ..?

Sure, it's a director's movie. Trivikram Srinivas is a highly skilled technician. He shaped the hero's character much better than he made me believe he would. I am ready to do another movie with him.

You claim that this is a fresh subject. But on the release of the movie, the talk was that it was a copy of 'Antham' and 'Varasudocchadu'. Your comments?

That's all so much of nonsense. For one thing I have not seen those movies. One reason for the talk perhaps is that the person playing the role of the hero in both the movies steps into the shoes of a member of the family who has been missing for a long time and tries to pass off as the missing person. I assure you, there is no similarity between the stories of those movies and that of 'Athadu'. The talk did get about the movie being similar to 'Antham', but to be honest, I haven't seen the film at all.

The hero's character in your father's starrer 'Neramu-Siksha' is on lines very similar to your role in 'Athadu'. Did your people discuss this with you?

When 'Neramu-Siksha' was released, I was not even born (laughs). Now that you have mentioned it, I will get a cassette of it and watch it and look for any coincidence.

The climax of 'Athadu' is said to be similar to that of the English movie, 'Face/Off'. Your comments?

The climax scene in 'Face/Off' might have appealed to the director and inspired him to shoot it the same way. The adoption of a scene or two does not make a movie a copy of another, does it? The fights in 'Aparichitudu' are very impressively composed, and if a director, impressed by it, includes similar fights in his movie, he or she cannot be accused of copying.

You would have nothing to do with the publicity of the movie before or on its release. But you are talking about so much about it now. Your comments?

Success makes all the difference. Once a movie is a success whatever one talks passes. I had been silent until the movie turned out to be a success, because none can predict the success or the failure of a movie. I was hesitant mainly because three of my movies had flopped in a row, though I was sure right from the beginning that 'Athadu' was going to be a hit.

On the occasion of the release of 'Athadu', you offered worship at Sri Kalahasti and people ascribe its success to your pooja there. Your comments?

It was just a coincidence. My pilgrimage to Sri Kalahasti was the first after my marriage, and my purpose was to seek the lord's blessings for a happy married life. I am a sentimental and religious person. Why are you asking this question? Is it because 'Athadu' is a success?

How much has this movie contributed to your fame and popularity?

Success makes people talk. People talked about me in the past with the image of 'Okkadu' in mind. Now when they talk about me, they have the image of 'Athadu' in mind. In both the cases people are talking more about the success of the hero's role than about the appeal of the film. That certainly makes me happy. And that certainly increases the pressure on me to perform as well or even better.

The delayed release of 'Athadu' has given rise to the speculation that it is an over budgeted production and it had to be released with a deficit. Your comments?

I don't agree that it is an over budgeted movie. The producer is better qualified to talk about it, though. The movie was completed within the projected budget. And the collections are soaring and are making us happy. 60% of the investment has already been recovered. Just think of it!

The movies of the super stars flopping, the putting off of the dates of some of the movies and the film boxes not being lifted, recently, people think, is due to the expenditure exceeding the budget and the high remunerations demanded by the super stars. Your comments?

We hear that kind of talk only when movies flop. Cinegoers look for novelty in a movie. Movies flop because they lack novelty. Over budgeting cannot always be the reason for the failure of a movie. Athadu is a success mainly because it has shown the audience something different from the other movies. I have no comments about the failures of the movies of the super stars.

'Athadu' was released only a year after 'Arjun'. Does it mean you want to limit yourself to one movie a year?

Nothing of the sort. I care more about the quality than about the quantity or the number. One thing at a time – that's my policy. From now on I want to do only three movies a year. At present I am signed up for six movies which will keep me fully busy till 2007.

Puri Jagannath had three flops in a row. Are you still prepared to work with him?

Puri Jagannath is one of our best directors. A few failures do not mean anything. I feel sure that our combinations can definitely yield big hits. I am sure he will make a super hit with me. Once a failure doesn't always mean a failure. My 'Athadu' has proved it.

Your comments about your senior's reactions?

Soon after the preview of 'Athadu', Chiranjeevi garu sent me a bouquet and a letter of congratulations written in his own hand to me. That was a real thrill. When 'Okkadu' was released, he did the same. I thanked him over the phone. I cherish these events. Dad told me that Athadu would certainly rake in forty crore rupees. And he is not going to be far wrong. Dad is always realistic about things and frank in expressing his opinion. He is so even in this case.


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