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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Interview: 'Mutyaala Muggu' Sangeetha

Mutyaala Muggu is one of the famous classic films in Telugu. And, the film brings into memory the names of Late Sridhar and Sangeetha, who played the lead pair in the movie. Nearly every TeluguFilm buff would have watched the movie, in fact! For more than a year before he passed away, I tried to interview Sridhar gaaru, but he refused to talk on films politely saying that films were a closed chapter in his life. I also tried to contact the film's heroine Sangeetha gaaru but her stay in Chennai made things move slower than usual, but I could finally locate her with the help of director Dasarath, for whom she's working in his project with Jagapathi Babu. Through him, I reached her manager Mr. Chinna, and eventually took some time to interview her for TeluguCinema.Com. The excerpts of the chitchat are presented here:

Sri: Where are you originally from? Also, tell us your pre-film life.

Sangeetha: Basically, I am from Warangal. My father used to work in Azam Zahi Mills as a draftsman. Ever since I was a school going kid, I was fascinated by films and my friends used to encourage me to try a hand at acting. We thus landed in Madras to try my luck...

Sri: How did you get a break with your debut, Mutyaala Muggu?

Sangeetha: After coming to Chennai, I started modeling for sarees of local mills like Raasi Silks and Sarada Silks. Seeing these photographs, Bapu gaaru screen-tested me and I was approved for the lead role.

Sri: Do you think you lost out as a glamorous heroine as you entered the filmdom with the classic Mutyaala Muggu?

Sangeetha: Well, as a matter of fact, I had such problems to some extent. But, as an actress (and not as a glamour doll), it was never a problem to me - I feel I was successful as an actress. I did some very good and meaningful film. In fact I am happy about it.

Sri: How was the shooting experience during your debut?

Sangeetha: I was totally new to films at that time. I was to play a girl-next-door kind of role without any makeup. The shooting was a great experience on the whole, and I was actually treated like a girl in their own home. The film was, of course, such a great hit that I am called "Mutyaala Muggu Sangeetha" to this day. The movie released 32 years ago, and still being referred with my debut movie title is a great achievement in itself, I feel. I did about four hundred films so far but none of them are even close to Mutyaala Muggu. The classic movie has given me a place not just in people's hearts but also in the annals of Telugu cinema. A rare honor people can get, I am proud, and glad, that I got it.

Sri: Four hundred films!? What all languages did you work in?

Sangeetha: I did in all South Indian languages, and I am still working in all of them. My first movie in Kannada, Nyaya Elliddi? (1982), was with Shankar Nag. And then, I did some films with his brother Ananth Nag in Kannada. I did some films with Rajkumar production house, but I never acted with the legendary artiste himself - I acted in mother roles in his sons' movies. In Malayalam, I did some films with Soman, Madhu, etc. who were famous at that time. In Tamil, I did films with MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan.

There was another Sangeetha in Tamil then, and I was thus referred as "MGR Sangeetha", since I did three films in a row as his sister. I did the role of Madhavi in the Tamil version of Krishnam Raju's Amara Deepam, titled Deepam in Tamil; Sivaji Ganeshan played the role of Krishnam Raju. All these films were big hits and I got a good name. I am glad I got such opportunities in my multilingual film career.

Sri: You did good films with Bapu gaaru after Mutyaala Muggu... films like Thyagayya, Pelleedu Pillalu, Pelli Koduku, and now again, you're working with him in his new film.

Sangeetha: I am fortunate to get these films. They always treat me like family member, and it may be why I always get good roles in their films!

Sri: Did you watch Bangaru Picchuka, the original of Pelli Koduku, before you did the film?

Sangeetha: No, I haven't! Once you sign Bapu gaari film, you need to surrender to him completely, and he'll mould you according to the role. He is the best!

Sri: What films make you feel that you are lucky to have done them?

Sangeetha: After Mutyaala Muggu, I can immediately think of Chilakamma Cheppindi, Thayaramma-Bangarayya, and Sreerama Pattabhishekam, and there're more! Working with Ramarao gaaru under the his direction is a memorable experience. He was very patient and very punctual on the sets.

Sri: You were good in films like Intlo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya and Sreevaariki Premalekha too...

Sangeetha: I would attribute it to directors' creativity. We are just artistes; we do what we are asked to do, and so the Credit should go to them in fact, for extracting our performance as you see it.

Sri: You do not get the opportunity to work with good directors all the time. How do you feel about it?

Sangeetha: Sometimes we get directors who do not even know when to call "Start action!" or "Cut!". But, being in this field as an artiste, we cannot complain about that. All we can do is go work with anyone and everyone, that's all!

Sri: Tell me about your marriage. Is it a love marriage or an arranged marriage?

Sangeetha: It was a love marriage. My husband Soundararajan was a film producer -director from Tamilnadu, and I was working in his film and we fell in love eventually and got married. We are not producing any more films in the changed times - it's now got too risky to produce a film. He's thus doing TV serials in Tamil.

Sri: Most artistes of your generation switched to TV. Do you have any such plans yourself?

Sangeetha: Though I got some offers, I have no plans to switch to TV. I am not interested to do TV serials at this time. I am happy being a film actress for now.

Sri: What do you do in your free time?

Sangeetha: Yoga and meditation keep me busy, and at peace.

Sri: Do you have any plans of shifting to Hyderabad?

Sangeetha: All my family is in Chennai, and I cannot shift them for just my films. Also, I am doing Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam films along with Telugu films. So, in a way, it is easy for me to work in different languages being in Chennai.

Interview by Sri




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