CHIRANJEEVI has seen
it all in the last 25 years - the ups and downs in tinseldom, the
grueling hours in make-up rooms, attained mega stardom... Reams have
been written on this man yet his feet are firmly on terra firma. In
the office room of his plush house (where there is just a portrait of
Mother Teresa) one gets a glimpse of the man behind the persona.
"When somebody says
it's 25 years, I say Oh, really? "Yes there have been ups and downs -
that's true. I don't remember any bitter moments. My attitude has been
to remember the good. I think positive. I attempt to wash and brush
off the bitterness and the wrong."
Chiranjeevi has had
his share of flops too out of the 130-odd films, with more than 25
hits, and working with top directors and a variety of roles. "Flops
make you think, help you to correct and reform yourself. The failure
of Mrugaraju taught me a lot." What are the films close to his
heart? "Every film is a sweet memory. It's difficult to pinpoint. I
liked Tagore as it had a social message and gave me immense
satisfaction. It was like a cleansing process for me. The movie was
commercially viable too. And coincidentally it was released in my 25th
Chiranjeevi is now
acting in Shankardada M.B.B.S., a remake of Munnabhai
M.B.B.S. "After a hit, expectations go up and an image is built.
Getting stories becomes difficult. I wanted to do a full-fledged
comedy - a mass entertainer. When I was asked to see the movie, I felt
this is the subject I'm looking for. A social message is woven as the
Early on in his
career he did roles which gave him scope to perform as an artiste. "I
worked with good directors to get a good name. My commitment is to
give 100 per cent entertainment. I look at the audience point of view
besides the business aspect while signing a film. My interest is
relegated to the third spot. If there is a social message woven into
an entertaining story, then it is the best."
His next project will
be for a Gita Arts Production. "I will be essaying a dual role -
father and son. The story is by Bhupathi Raja. We had zeroed down on
Puri Jagannath to direct but because of his prior commitments and the
clash of dates he may not direct and another director may step in. We
are thinking of other projects with Naga Babu and Vijayabhaskar."
Chiranjeevi's simplicity and unpretentiousness strikes one. How does
he look at name and fame?
"I joined films
because I was interested in acting and not because I will get name and
fame. I don't know why people like me. When I sit to think I feel one
must take up the opportunities and do it sincerely and wholeheartedly.
I think name, fame, money and love are automatic byproducts." He
believes in interaction. Even when there is near frenzy and he is
mobbed, he enjoys being amidst people. "You have to be in touch with
the masses. If you are acting in cinema and don't interact you are
losing a lot. " Is it difficult to be natural in real life too because
there seems to be thin line between the real and the reel? (Laughs).
"Acting is important on screen. It is not necessary outside it. Both
worlds are separate. My family too plays a role in this. When I come
home, I am a family man. I was born in an average family. My wife too
comes from a simple family even though she hails from a film family. I
always remember where I came from. I teach my children also to be so.
They should be mentally prepared for everything. For instance, my
daughter Sushmita is a rich girl. She does not need to work. But she
does a part-time job in a store and works at her design studio. She
feels happy when she earns money."
"More than money this
gives them the confidence to live and face life. My son is interested
in acting but I want him to complete his studies before joining films.
Moreover, in my house there is nothing remotely connected to films. It
does not look like a filmstar's house replete with photographs,
mementos etc. One should be connected to the roots."
`evolved' and `matured' over the years . "I do a lot of self-analysis
whenever I get time. This is a kind of meditation. I believe in
meditation because it gives you a tranquil feeling and mental balance.
One won't take hasty decisions. A positive approach, talking to others
and welcoming other's views helps." As an artiste, Chiranjeevi feels
he has a social responsibility too. Mother Teresa (he regrets his bad
luck in not meeting her) has a direct influence on him "She was born
somewhere and she worked somewhere. What made her do that? We are born
here and shouldn't we should do something here?" he asks. Other than
acting he can't think of anything but extending social service. "In
cinema there are hits and flops. In service there is no question of
flop. Feedback is a wonderful feeling and I have experienced that so I
would want to turn towards it more." On the trend of celebrity
endorsements he feels nothing wrong if the products are good. "I was
asked to endorse Bagpiper and cigarettes but I refrained from doing
so. I don't endorse what is harmful for kids."
There has been much
speculation about his entering politics but he refutes saying he is
not inclined to do so.
At the moment he is
happy and contented with what he is doing.