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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exclusive Interview with NTR

NTR The name spells magic among the Telugu audience. For, Late NTR was an icon and legendary actor and politician. His grandson, NTR, is true successor in the third generation. With just first two films, he became a star and after Simhadri, he rose to a position that many stars would envy for. NTR, a true resemblance to his grandfather in physique and to an extent in acting, is now coming up with Yamadonga, and hopes to bounce back and satisfy all his innumerous fans across the world. This is the third time that he is working with his Jakkanna (director S S Rajamouli) and believes that their magic works again. Here he spoke in this exclusive interview about various issues. Excerpts from the interview

Lets begin with Yamadonga. How did the film happen? Why did you take three years to be re-united with Rajamouli?
Before we talk about Yamadonga, let us talk about my association with Jakkanna (Rajamouli). Both of us began our careers almost at the same time. When Ashwinidutt and Raghavendra Rao garu called me for their office and introduced Rajamouli to me, I had no confidence on him. I didn't know anything about him. My first film, Ninu Choodalani, was not a big hit. Here he came after directing a TV serial, Santhi Nivasam, to direct me! But we began working and he gave me the first hit. Today whatever I have achieved and having huge fans, it is because of Student No.1 that made me dear to the audiences.
Then Aadhi and Simhadri followed. Both films are special to me. Though Aadhi became big hit, it is Simhadri that changed my life. Rajamouli had given me biggest hit in my career and put me in a position that every hero would envy. Again, the film also had adverse impact on my career. During these three years, none of my films satisfied the fans and audiences because they compared every film of mine with Simhadri. For fans, Simhadri was Vindubhojanam. So when regular meal was offered, it didn't taste them better.
Rajamouli and I wanted to work again but we felt we should come up with something that is drastically different from the So it took three years to reunite again.
Yamadonga is a socio-fantasy film. Most of your films are mass masala movies. What made you change tracks?
In the last three years, Raakhi came like a light. It gave me space to breath. With that little encouragement, Rajamouli and I had begun discussing this project. When he asked me to what kind of subject we should choose, I said that we should go his trademark style of action movies. But Rajamouli reasoned that we have been missing a section of audiences with this kind of movies. "We need to make people laugh, cry and go to the homes with happy mood. So we should make such film that caters to all section of the audiences," he suggested. He first told me the title - Yamadonga and said that it would be in the style of Yamagola. I felt happy doing a film that my grand father did and at the same time shocked. Yamagola is trendsetter in socio-fantasy films. People would naturally compare with that, so I naturally had apprehensions.
Rajamouli reasoned that Yamagola and later other movies that came with Yama backdrop had two elements - a star who has mass image and a director who is known for mass entertainers. So he convinced me that it works in our case too. Then I told him that only Mohan Babu alone does the justice to the role of Yama and convince him to do the movie if we were to go. Rajamouli went to him and told the subject. Mohan Babu gaaru immediately okayed the film saying he would accept it only for Rajamouli and me.
So we went ahead with it. But frankly speaking, I didn't know the complete story. In fact, I never asked Rajamouli. I had immense faith on him and his direction.
How was it working with Mohan Babu?
From childhood, I have great rapport and relationship with Mohan Babu uncle. When Tatayya was doing Major Chandrakant, I used to visit the sets and his house. I used to stay at his home for days. Vishnu, Manoj and Lakshmi akka are my good friends. Mohan Babu uncle is very close to me than them. He treated me as his third son.
Apart from that, I have always been his fan. There is royal ness in his style of acting. After my grandfather NTR and SVR, you find such quality in his style. Coming to working experience with him, I should say it was great learning experience and memorable one too. To his stature, he can come to the sets anytime he wishes to be. But he comes to the location on time with full-makeup and stays till the end. He is dedicated towards acting and very professional. I have learnt those qualities from him during the shooting.
People have wrong notions about him because of his temperament. He is straightforward and speaks truth and doesn't mince words. That is why he is branded as 'tough man'. Only few people like me know his kind-hearted and child like sweetness beneath his tough nut nature.

Tell us about working with your grandfather NTR. We mean the graphical shots of Late NTR.
I haven't seen them yet. I wish to see them on the silver screen along with the audiences. It was great feeling when I was shooting for. I didn't know how my grandfather would do in that scene (laughs). Imaging him there and doing the scenes was an ecstatic feeling. I am very eager and excited to see him on the screen. You can imagine how fans and audiences would feel when they see him on the screen. That great legendary personality gave us chance to share screen with him in this film. I will always be indebted to Rajamouli for this.
After long time, there is very positive feeling among the fans and audiences regarding your movie. How do you feel for this humongous craze around Yamadonga despite your lean phase?
Yes, true. I have been hearing so much positive talk about Yamadonga. Probably because of our combination (Rajamouli and mine) or the posters or the success of audio, everyone is talking about it. I am glad with this.

For the first time, your mother appeared at a film function of yours!
As I said, Yamadonga is a special film. There is so much goodness and good people (Rajamouli-Keeravani-Gunnam-Cherry family members) surrounding the film, so I wanted my mother to be part of his special occasion. I also found a family (Rajamouli's) outside my family.
This is your third movie with Keeravani too. How does it feel to be working with him again?
Frankly speaking, I am too small person to speak such stalwarts like Mohan Babu and Keeravani. What can I say about a music director who has achieved so much and done about 200 films? After Ilayaraja, Keeravani is my favorite music director. Most people say Keeravani delivers mass songs best, but I like his melodies. Particularly I love his song, "Raalipoye Poova Ragalenduke..", in Matrudevobhava. He is great music director.
When I was doing Student No.1, he was the real hero. Both Jakkanna and I were novices. After huge success of Simhadri, he has given again superb music for this Yamadonga too. Audio of this film has already sensational hit.
You have lost so much weight and completely different now. Whose decision was it to go for this lean look?
These kind of movies (Yamadonga) occur once in a life. Jakkana is planned Yamadonga in a gigantic manner and made everyone work for this movie with so much dedication. So I wanted to do something on my part. When Rajamouli asked me to shed my excess weight, I took up the challenge. After four months, I went to him. He was shocked and surprised. I will never forget in my life the happiness I found in his eyes when he saw me at that time.
Today everyone is talking about my drastic change and makeover. So it is good. Earlier I used to look like a 30 years old guy. Today when I say my age is 24, they don't believe and they think I might just be 21 years old.
Will you do remakes of old classics of your grandfather?
I don't plan my life. I am very practical person. So I don't plan ahead. Whether I do remakes or not but I certainly want to experiment. But it takes some more time. To get that level where I can do varied roles and experiment.
Two years ago there was lot of buzz about you and Sameera Reddy. How much was it true in those rumors?
I am really hurt with those utterly baseless rumors. Media has blown it up very badly. I was shocked reading some of the rumors that I bought her an apartment, etc. I was in deep problems at the time of Narasinhudu. Paid the producer double the amount what I took for remuneration in return. Then how would I do such silly things?
Bollywood press is different and ours is different. I wish that media stay away from writing false news and malign the actors.

Why do you work with new directors often?
Why shouldn't I? We should encourage new talent. If we wouldn't do that and work only with the 'established' directors, how can we get Rajamouli's or Vinayak's. Weren't Rajamouli and Vinayak newcomers at the time of Student No.1 and Aadi respectively? Though Naa Alludu and some of the films bombed, it doesn't mean that the fault lies in the new directors.
Are you introducing any other new directors?
I will be doing a film with Mahadev, Rajamouli's associate. He narrated me a story. I liked it. Meher Ramesh is debuting in Telugu with Kantri, my next film.
Tell us about Kantri?
Kantri will soon go to the sets. It is directed by Meher Ramesh. He is Poori Jagannadh's associate and directed two hit movies in Kannada - remake of Andhrawala and remake of Okkadu. He is very talented; I know for a long time. Ashwinidutt gaaru is producing it.
Is it true that you are going to work with Puri Jagannadh again even after the debacle of Andhrawala?
See. We shouldn't judge anyone by one flop. Andhrawala flopped because of the image that I got after Simhadri. By the time, Simhadri released and became sensation; we have completed 80 percent of Andhrawala shooting. It was too late to change to suit the image that I got after Simhadri. We are going to work together again but it takes some time. I liked the way he portrayed hero's character in the film.
Do you surf the websites?
Yes, I do. I regularly read prominent websites. One among them is yours. These websites are respected by many in the industry too. At least twice or thrice a week I read the sites.



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