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Interview with Venkatesh

1.You have been in the industry for around 27 years. What changes have you witnessed?

The technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. The equations have changed in terms of making a film — there was a time when producers were bosses. The directors were calling the shots. This changed, and now, a combination of stars and directors are calling the shots, and producers have taken a backseat. On the downside, I ve seen how the money is being spent.There has been a shift towards spending more on stars and technicians and less on production, and this is not a good sign. There should be a ratio of 60-40, where 60 per cent is spent on production and the rest on technicians and stars.

2.Most of the movies in Telugu are male oriented...

Its always been that way. It s only now that you find some directors making women-centric movies, when he finds an interesting subject. The films do well, and again, it fades after a while. It is purely business, and it is got nothing to do with sexism — they make what the audience wants.But in a lot of my films — Pelli Cheskundam Pavitra Bandham, Vasantham, Suryavamsam — the heroines played important roles.

3.Amongst the new gen actors, who do you think is likely to go a long way?

Well, that s a difficult choice (laughs). All the heroes in Tollywood now, be it Charan, Prabhas, Mahesh or Allu Arjun, have styles that are very distinct. You can compare people if they have similar style, body language or if they are doing similar films. But all these guys are so different that they can not be compared. What I can say is that we have some of the best actors right now. If an actor is accepted by his audience, he will have a good span of 20-25 years in the industry. The best thing in T-town is the fans, who are always so supportive — even after a couple of flops if you deliver a hit, they will just take you somewhere else. The only advice I have for the current crop of stars is that they should take more risk — in the sense of working on new kinds of subjects, with new creative writers etc.

4.If not acting, what would you have been?

I never thought of it. The thought of what-will-I-be never crossed my head, and I never lived like that. First, I went to a good school, then a good college and then I went abroad and finished my MBA. I remember dabbling in an import-export business, but that did not work out. And then, dad s casual call came and he asked me if I wanted to do a movie. Everything happened quickly. I always looked at life as something that happens and you accept it. But the one thing I knew about myself was that I would give 100 per cent in whatever I do. I know that if you throw me anywhere, I will survive. But I never expect anything in return. I have learnt that what you want in life and what you get are totally different things. I guess my masters — Ramana Maharishi, teachings of Christ, of the Prophet — influenced my life a lot. Around the time of Preminchukundam Raa, when I had a series of hits, I was not reacting very much to the successes. I wondered "what is wrong, why am I not feeling elated?" I was very disturbed. That is when I wandered into spirituality and went to the Himalayas. And now, I think I balance my spiritual life and the role as a human quite well (laughs).

5.Do you see yourself making movies forever?

I do not know. I just take one step at a time; I have my filmi career,my family and time for my spiritual needs. More than that, you do not need much. To find your real self is not ordinary — it is, in fact, the greatest achievement.

6.Many actors venture into politics. Do you have any such plans?

No. Politics is not my thing. It has never attracted me. I could never understand it. In our politics, there is too much power, and less clarity on the objective to be achieved. Plus, you are never really able to do what you want — if you are honest, it is difficult to stay in it. It is one of the few careers which bring out a lot of bad vasanas in human beings. While the bad vasanas are there in all humans, I do not want that dormant, crazy thing to come out in me. But I do respect those who are in the system, taking responsibility.

7.What about your kids? Are they interested in movies?

I do not think any of my daughters have thought about that. I always felt they needed their education and privacy. But my son might have the pressure, since the fans already look at him as if he will be a star. I keep telling him that he has to study well. If he is game for acting, he will jump into it. And I am keen that he sees life outside first. Career can always come later. He is pretty clever, so he knows he is got to do something.

8.How close are you to them?

I love children. At a very young age, I remember when my eldest daughter was born, I had many injuries and I was at home most of the time. I was spending so much time with her, that I realised I want more kids because I was learning so much from them. It is true what they say "God is in all children". When their individuality and ego is not grown, you see god in them.

9.Who is the closest to you?

If I mention any one, they are going to kill me! But no doubt, it is my first-born, Aashritha. She has changed me as a person, and I decided to be someone else because she was there. Luckily, the other kids have similar nature. So, I can say all my kids are close to me.

10.Have you thought of directing or producing?

Every movie that I act in, I have produced too. My name might not roll in the credits, but I am more active as a producer than a hero. But direction is not my scene — itis more creative and time consuming, and we have to give our 100 per cent. With acting, there is not enough time to direct.

11.Are you associated with any cause?

I am associated, but I do not like to publicise it too much. I like my sense of privacy. Sometimes, when you advertise your work too much, you get carried away and you compare your charity with that of others. Then the whole cause gets lost. But that does not mean I am dissing what others are doing . I also believe in the saying, "the highest service you can do is self service", because only of you are happy with yourself can you do something for others.

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