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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Interview with SUMAN


A handsome, tall guy, skilled in martial arts climbed up the ladder of success pretty fast in Telugu films at one time. Suman was on the ladder of becoming a top star. Fate has it that he was in news and out of industry for quite some time for wrong reasons. He fought the tough times and came back with successful films like Bava Bavamaridi, Peddintalludu etc. He even won Nandi award for Bava Bavamaridi. In the recent years, he was mostly doing character roles. A few years ago he was seen as Lord Venkateswara in the film Annamayya and he is The guy now for any devotional roles. Luck smiled at him one more time when he was casted against Rajani Kanth for the film Sivaji. The film released and got good reviews for Suman. An Interview Held with Suman...

How are you enjoying the success of Sivaji?
It is definitely encouraging. I know that it will be a big success from day one. One of the India's best director, South Indian Superstar, Music legend AR Rehman and top class technicians teamed up for the film; One of the biggest production companies in India produced this film. So any one could predict the success of the film. And that is proved true today. Success of Sivaji is more special for me not just because I am part of this film but also got good reviews. It is a different Suman who is not seen or shown that way so far. And I am introduced to entire world with this film. I am very thankful to the producers and director Shankar.

How is the working experience with Shankar?
Personally, he is a good human being and is very good at heart. He is very simple and humble. Professionally, he is the great director I have ever worked with. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he is Hollywood range director. He knows what he wants and does not compromise on any thing. He brought out the best in me. I acted in more than 350 films in various languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marati. With even such experience, I still had lot to learn from him. one of the comforts working with a director like Shankar is - he explains everything clearly and some times he even enacts the scenes himself. He is careful and very choosy about every character including getups, makeup, costumes. In my situation, I assumed the role to appear as a huge guy with terrific appearance. In contrast to my assumption, Shankar asked that I remove my moustache and act without any makeup. I applied gel to my hair, if you call it make up. That is all. Look at how he projected the character of Adiseshu. It got good recognition.

How is the it working with Rajani Kanth?
I am a good friend with Rajani Kanth. I also came from Tamil industry, remember. Even though Rajani Kanth is a good friend, I rarely met him. Because of Sivaji, I got to work with Rajani Kanth for almost one and half year. He is a great person. It is very surprising to see how simple he is inspite of the stardom he enjoys. He is very friendly with every one on the sets. He is on the sets 30 minutes before the scheduled time. And also, he never wanted to leave early or take a break. Once he is on sets, he is totally involved until the director calls for packup. It did not matter to him if he had any shots remaining for the day, but he would stay on the sets until the entire unit packed up. He would tell every one when he left the sets.

We talked a lot on the sets. I learnt many valuable things from him. He is a great philosopher too. I would not hesitate to call him Modern Guru. He has immense knowledge in any subject. Even though my character dominated at times in the film, he did not interfere and on top of it, he prompted me to do well. He is simply great.
You alloted a year of dates for this film. Was it uncomfortable?
I was asked the dates for an year. It eventually became 1 year and 4 months. I was given schedules of 15 days a month. That way I could do other films in the rest 15 days. It is a fact that I missed some good films because of this schedule. But I dont have any regrets. Because Sivaji can happen only once. It will not come again when I feel ready. So I did not want to miss this kind of an unique opportunity. Makers of other films that I was working at that time were also very understanding and helpful.

You were wearing glasses through out the film. Eyes contribute a major share for expression. How did you manage that?
Ya.. that was tough. I had to move facial muscles to express smile or anger. Shankar helped me a lot with that. He threw in his suggestions but gave me full freedom with my character. I am glad that efforts are paid off and my performance got good reviews.

You were in the industry for almost 3 decades. How do you analyze these years?
Firstly, I never entered the industry with the intention of becoming an actor. I got a chance to act in a Tamil film 'Swimming Pool' by chance. With the encouragement from my friends and well wishers, I did that film. It became a super hit. So naturally I got more offers. Even then I did films as just a hobby. Gradually it became my career. My friends gave me a good reason to take up acting as career; It is tough to settle in the industry without any backup support. Since I already landed up with good offers, it is better off that I continue my career in films. I took up the idea. So I am thankful to the producer of Swimming Pool who got me into films.

It is Thammareddy Bharadwaja who introduced me to Telugu. The film is Iddaru Kiladilu. However, it took time with production and my first film to release in Telugu is Tarangini. Tarangini became a good hit and ran for 1 year. And there was no looking back from then for few more years to come. Vamsi's Sitara, Neti Bharatam, Bava Bavamaridi, comedy films including Alludu series films and many more stood as big hits and continued my success streak. There were ups and downs in this journey. I took every thing in an optimistic way and kept bouncing back.

Even though I did many films as hero, it was K.Raghavendra Rao who gave me break as a character artist. He prompted me to play father to Allu Arjun in the film Gangotri. He is the one who proved that Suman could do character roles too. If all of this is one leg of my carrer, getting to do devotional roles is the other. I feel blessed and great about doing the roles of Gods after NTR. Annamayya, Sri Ramadasu, and Satyanarayana Swami - I did God roles in all these films. I will be always proud of it. Once again I am greatful and thankful to K.Raghavendra Rao for that. And now with Sivaji, Shankar introduced me to lot more audience. So, my career is going on satisfactory, overall.

Even when you are doing character roles and hero roles, you did some low films that were not even known to audience that they released. Why was that?
Firstly, I dont want to stay doing nothing. You have to keep saying that you are in the industry and the only way to do that is keep doing films. It doesnt matter if they are small or big. Secondly, I did mistake in picking few films. That too, I was narrated one script but later on the makers changed it the way they wanted either due to budget or whatever restrictions they had. Because of that I became part of some bad films. Thirdly, I never rate films as big and small. I always look at them for either good or bad. In fact, it is one of the small films that got me role in Sivaji. You wont believe it but it seems Shankar saw me talking in one of the pressmeets for a small film and thought to give me a try for that role. The call came one day and I landed up with the role.
What is a good cinema in your view? What is your view on present cinema?
Well, it is a tough question. In simple words, a movie that can give the two hours of entertainment to the audience is considered a good film. Audience come to film to relax.

Coming to present trend of films, I think the films are propagating wrong messages. There is too much of exaggeration and obscenity in films. There is a difference in showing beauty and showing skin. Also, cheap comedy on responsible people of the society such as teachers, police and lawyers is also out of bounds now. I hope that the trend changes and good movies make their way up.
What kind of music do you like and what are your favorite songs from your films?
I love music. Any kind of music as long as it is soothing and melodious. I listen to devotional every morning. The only sound I dont have an ear to is Rock and Rap. Coming to the songs from my films, there are many songs. There are a few special songs though. Title song of Tarangini, Gajje gallu mannado from Bava bavamaridi, Manavatvam parimalinche from Neti Bharatam and Kukuku from Sitara are special to me.
How come you are not seen at any functions?
I dont attend functions much. The reason is it is all trash. For example, look at what is spoken during an audio function. Most of it is trash. The reason why I say that is most of the speakers would not have even heard the songs but they go on saying that the songs are superb. It is a whole bunch of hypocrisy. If a noted personality is endorsing the songs to be awesome, audience would take it for granted. If they realize that the songs are a bunch of trash, then the credibility is all gone. And I dont like that happening to me.
Any suggestion for the aspirants?
A while ago, one had to have either good backup in the industry or bundle of talent to enter the film. Now a days, things are totally different. You dont need neither backup nor talent. If you want to become a hero, you can; if you have money. The attitude is also different. If you have money, make a film as a hero. If it clicks, film career continues. If not, go back and do what you were doing before.

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