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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Interview with R Narayana Murthy

Call him people star, red star and revolutionary star but he set a new trend with his ‘red’ brand films that expose the exploitation done to the lower strata of the society. He is R Narayana Murthy who is inclined to expose atrocities committed by governments against the helpless. Having donated crores of rupees for poor and needy when he made hit films, he never tells about it in media. Idlebrain.com met this unique people star with a mission for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -

Childhood and studies:
I was born in Mallampet village (Routulupudi mandal), East Godavari district in a poor farmer's family. I studied in Routulupudi till 5th class. There used to be a touring talkies in that village where I used to listen to songs like 'Namo Venkatesa' playing outside the theater. I used to go to various films of top actors like NTR and ANR used to rehearsal what they had done in the films during the interval. That is where the foundation stone laid for my acting career .

I joined high school in Sankavaram. That is where I developed social awareness. I used to observe the atrocities done to public. I got attracted towards revolutionary movements during that time.

I joined college in Peddapuram to study BA degree. I got influenced by politics and developed three main interests - movies, politics and social commitment. I was the president of students union in that college as well as the secretary to Fine Arts department. I also served as the secretary to Poor Boys Fund Committee besides being the president of students for my government hostel. The rickshawalas used to approach me for support and asked me to stand as their president. I was president of Town Riksha Union too. I also vigorously participated in emergency period in Indira Gandhi days. I was taken by police for interrogation. I also initiated funds collection for a new college construction by arranging a program with film heroine Manjula. I contributed my bit towards Bihar floods during that time. My college mates used to call me as 'Brother of College'.

Film career:
It was my lifetime ambition to become a hero. After completing my intermediate I went to Chennai and met Dasari Narayana Rao. I got a role in superstar Krishna's film Neramu-Siksha. I was one among the 170 junior artists who stood in a scene for a song. I got frustrated after doing small role. At the same time, I came to know that I passed my intermediate. Dasari suggested me that I should complete my graduation before acting in films. I also had a thing for BA degree as NT Rama Rao's title card used to have 'NT Rama Rao BA'. I returned to complete my graduation. During that time, Neramu Siksha got released. Though I was one among 100 people, my villagers recognized me and started clapping and whistling for all my scenes. They used to say 'mana reddy babulu (my nick name) cinemalo vunnadu'. That response made me realize the power of mass media like movie. I decided that I should complete my degree and join films again.

After completing my degree I met Dasari again. He was making a film titled Needa with Ramesh Babu as hero on Telugu Chitra banner. Ramineni Sambasiva Rao and Dr. Rama Koteswara Rao produced that film. I got a meaty role in that film. It was a hit. I received 100 days shield from Karunanidhi in Hotel Chola, Madras.

After that Dasari (Seetaramulu, Korikale Gurralaitha, Viswaroopam), D Rama Naidu (Agni Poolu), Jyothy Sekhara Babu (Sardar) encouraged me.

Dasari made me full-fledged hero with a film titled 'Sangeeta'. It was produced by Hara Gopal on Purna pictures banner. I had two songs and SP Bala Subramanyam composed music. It was a decent hit and it ran for 50 days.

Ardharatri Swatantryam (Turning point):
My struggle started after release of this film Sangeeta. I have become too big for small roles and nobody was offering hero roles. I had no money and no food. I struggled a lot during that time. But it was Sri Sri's song that inspired me.


I then realized that I should become a director in order to be a hero. And nobody would give be direction chance as I had no prior experience. I used to observe Dasari's work when I was on location. Then I realized that I had to become a producer in order to give myself a chance as director. I told my friends about my ambition. They are great people and they helped me. That is the reason why named my banner as 'Sneha Chitra'. I used the Indo-Russian friendship's shake hand logo for banner.

I started 'Ardharathri Swatanthram' as my first venture in Rampachodavaram on June 10, 1984. I completed it with a budget of 16 and half lakhs. I had censor problems and overcame them with help of people. It got released on 6 November 1986 on the eve of T Krishna's death anniversary. T Krishna did the role of a naxalite in that film. It created history after the release. The songs by Vangapandu, dialogues by PL Narayana, loations and story-screenplay-direction by me helped the film to become a big hit. All my films had contemporary social problems like unemployment, world bank policies, WTO agreement, third world country problems, environmental issues, dams and rehabilitation problems, land issues, political turmoil etc. Hence the exploited people used to identify themselves in the characters of my films.

ABK Prasad wrote an editorial about my film Vegu Chukkalu in Andhra Prabha newspaper. Vartha wrote a frontpage news about that film. Udayam paper also wrote front page article about Ardharatri Swatantham.

Dandora film inspired women to attack on sara (arrack) shops. Erra Sainyam aggravated the land fight movement. Lal Salam created commotion because it dealt with Chundoor issue. Police interrogated me for that film and it was also banned for a while.

My films never had sexual exploitation, double meaning dialogues, lavish settings, huge star cast, separate comedy tracks and duets. I always depended on the real issue to strike the chords of common man.

Why did you not marry?
It is not an international issue. Let’s not discuss about it.

Why do you lead a simple lifestyle?
I don't own a house. I don't have a car though I produced over 19 films. I like it this way. I don't have to travel in car or own a house to prove something. I prefer simple life.

Do you nurture any political ambitions?
TDP offered me MP seat for Kakinada twice. Congress offered me MLA seat for Tuni. But movies are my first priority. Hence I said no to them. I would like to thank people for making me such popular and leaders for offering me such positions.

Which one is the trend setting film among yours?
Erra Sainyam was the trendsetting film. Lots of filmmaker started making such films and made that genre monotonous. Hence my later films flopped because people felt that I have become monotonous. I made gppdfilms for 10 years and had a winning way. After that for seven years I had a flop streak. I started my second innings with Ooru Manadira film.

How many hits are there in your career?
Out of 25 films in which i acted as hero, 10 films were hits. These are Ardharatri Swatantryam, Adavi Diviteelu, Lal Salam, Dandora, Erra Sainyam, Cheemala Dandu, Dalam, Cheekati Suryulu, Ooru Manadira and Vegu Chukkalu.

Who do you thank for your position today?
I would like to thank Dasari Narayana Rao for all the help. I would also like to thank Ramesh Prasad (prasad Labs) for helping me out. I want to thank people's poets (praja kavulu) and all those people who are fighting for the people, social causes and equality in society.

What are your future projects?
I remade Telugu blockbuster Erra Sainyam in Hindi as ‘Yeh Dharti Hamari’. This film will be released allover India on 7 September. If I find the box office response encouraging, I might remake all my Telugu hits in Hindi in future.

Filmography as hero
(own banner)
1. Ardharatri Swatantryam
2. Alochinchandi
3. Bhoo Poratam
4, Adavi Diviteelu
5. Swatantra Bharatam
6. Lal Salaam
7. Dandora
8. Erra Sainyam
9. Cheemala Dandu
10. Dalam
11. Cheekati Suryulu
12. Raithu Rajyam
13. Kolanna
14. Chalo Assembly
15. Ooru Manadira
16. Veguchukkalu
17. Gangamma Jatara
18. Amma Meda Ottu
19. Adavi Biddalu
Filmography as hero
(outside banner)
20. Errodu
21. Orey Riksha
22. Aranyam
23. Singanna
24. Telugodu
25. Bheemudu
26. Yeh Dharti Hamari


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



Venky's 'show' with Kingfisher girls

Gorgeous and sexy Kingfisher Models have been roped in to do a steamy romp show for Venkatesh's current film being produced by Suresh Productions.

At a special set erected at Ramanaidu Studios, the models had performed a fashion show, in which Nayanatara also took participation.

To get the authentic professional look of a fashion show, the Kingfisher models are roped in by producer Suresh Babu. It is directed by Boyapati Srinu.


Pawan and Illeana for a SONG at costly set

A costly set has been erected at Annapoorna Studios in Hyderabad for a song sequence for Pawan Kalyan's current film directed by Trivikram Srinivas. The film's first duet is presently being canned at the set. Raju Sundaram is choreographing thesong to the tunes of Devisri Prasad.

Although the film has finished major shooting, only now that the songs have begun filming. Pawan Kalyan romances Illeana in the film. There are two other beauties - Parvathi Melton and Kamilini - in the film. Hero Shivaji is doing a key role in it.

Geeta Arts is producing the film.



Telugu actress Sneha is holding secret discussions to start a fan club just like male actors.The fan clubs for Trisha and Namitha are such that they are giving competition for fan clubs of stars like Ajith, Rajini and Chiru. Seeing this sneha also inspired too. She has assigned her father with the responsibility of taking care of the fan club. Like Trisha fan club is campaigning against the evils of tobacco use, she also proposes to spread social messages.

A secret meeting to discuss all this was held recently at her marriage hall in her home town. Since Ajit and Trisha fans clashed recently, the Ultimate Star has decided not to act with Trisha again. Fan clubs could also have some adverse results and the genial actress should be aware of it.



Akkineni family will soon see its next director in Akkineni Nageshwar Rao’s elder son Venkat Akkineni picking up the mantle. Venkat Akkineni in all likelihood directs this movie which would have Jagapathi Babu as the hero. With years spent in the film fraternity and loads of experience all feel that Venkat will do an excellent job. Venkat and Jagapathi Babu are very good friends and it is said that their friendship and camaraderie will be there for all to see in this movie. The film also has inputs fromNagarjuna if all grapevine is to be believed.



There were rumors in the film nagar that Devi Sree Prasad will make acting debut very soon. To make the rumors true, MS Raju who is planning to direct “Vana” is likely to rope Devi Sree as hero for debut directorial venture. It is the remake of Kannada film. As for reliable sources, M S Raju will direct Devi Sree and shoot will commence on 10th of August in Mysore.