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Interview with Mahesh Babu

1.What do you feel about the success of Athadu?

I feel that this is the biggest hit so far in my career in all respects including the money it has collected. Its success has filled me with a new zeal and new inspiration.

2.What, in your opinion, are the chief features of the movie that attract you?

Most importantly the characterization of the hero. That is what holds my utmost interest. As far as I know this is the first subject of its kind in any Telugu movie. The hero character in Athadu has two sides. His transformation from a negative role to a positive one is really fascinating. The script writer and the director being the same led to the advantage of molding the character in a way that is really interesting. I okayed the role because I was sure that the script writer and the director being the same, the hero character would shape up very well, and I was not wrong.

3.Is it totally a directors movie, or ..?

Sure, it is a directors movie. Trivikram Srinivas is a highly skilled technician. He shaped the hero character much better than he made me believe he would. I am ready to do another movie with him.

4.You claim that this is a fresh subject. But on the release of the movie, the talk was that it was a copy of Antham and Varasudocchadu. Your comments??

That is all so much of nonsense. For one thing I have not seen those movies. One reason for the talk perhaps is that the person playing the role of the hero in both the movies steps into the shoes of a member of the family who has been missing for a long time and tries to pass off as the missing person. I assure you, there is no similarity between the stories of those movies and that of Athadu. The talk did get about the movie being similar to Antham, but to be honest, I have not seen the film at all.

5.The heros character in your fathers starrer Neramu-Siksha is on lines very similar to your role in Athadu.Did your people discuss this with you?

When Neramu-Siksha was released, I was not even born (laughs). Now that you have mentioned it, I will get a cassette of it and watch it and look for any coincidence.

6.The climax of Athadu is said to be similar to that of the English movie,Face/Off. Your comments?

The climax scene in Face/Off might have appealed to the director and inspired him to shoot it the same way.The adoption of a scene or two does not make a movie a copy of another, does it? The fights in Aparichitudu are very impressively composed,and if a director, impressed by it, includes similar fights in his movie, he or she cannot be accused of copying.

7.You would have nothing to do with the publicity of the movie before or on its release. But you are talking about so much about it now. Your comments?

Success makes all the difference. Once a movie is a success whatever one talks passes. I had been silent until the movie turned out to be a success, because none can predict the success or the failure of a movie. I was hesitant mainly because three of my movies had flopped in a row, though I was sure right from the beginning that Athadu was going to be a hit.

8.On the occasion of the release of Athadu,you offered worship at Sri Kalahasti and people ascribe its success to your pooja there. Your comments?

It was just a coincidence.My pilgrimage to Sri Kalahasti was the first after my marriage,and my purpose was to seek the lords blessings for a happy married life.I am a sentimental and religious person. Why are you asking this question? Is it because Athadu is a success?

9.How much has this movie contributed to your fame and popularity?

Success makes people talk. People talked about me in the past with the image of Okkadu in mind.Now when they talk about me, they have the image of Athadu in mind. In both the cases people are talking more about the success of the heros role than about the appeal of the film. That certainly makes me happy. And that certainly increases the pressure on me to perform as well or even better.

10.The delayed release of Athadu has given rise to the speculation that it is an over budgeted production and it had to be released with a deficit. Your comments?

I do not agree that it is an over budgeted movie. The producer is better qualified to talk about it, though. The movie was completed within the projected budget. And the collections are soaring and are making us happy. 60% of the investment has already been recovered. Just think of it!

11.The movies of the super stars flopping, the putting off of the dates of some of the movies and the film boxes not being lifted, recently, people think, is due to the expenditure exceeding the budget and the high remunerations demanded by the super stars. Your comments?

We hear that kind of talk only when movies flop. Cinegoers look for novelty in a movie. Movies flop because they lack novelty. Over budgeting cannot always be the reason for the failure of a movie. Athadu is a success mainly because it has shown the audience something different from the other movies. I have no comments about the failures of the movies of the super stars.

12.Athadu was released only a year after Arjun. Does it mean you want to limit yourself to one movie a year?

Nothing of the sort. I care more about the quality than about the quantity or the number. One thing at a time – that is my policy. From now on I want to do only three movies a year. At present I am signed up for six movies which will keep me fully busy till 2007.

13.Puri Jagannath had three flops in a row. Are you still prepared to work with him?

Puri Jagannath is one of our best directors. A few failures do not mean anything. I feel sure that our combinations can definitely yield big hits. I am sure he will make a super hit with me. Once a failure does not always mean a failure. My Athadu has proved it.

14.Your comments about your seniors reactions?

Soon after the preview of Athadu, Chiranjeevi garu sent me a bouquet and a letter of congratulations written in his own hand to me. That was a real thrill. When Okkadu was released, he did the same. I thanked him over the phone. I cherish these events. Dad told me that Athadu would certainly rake in forty crore rupees. And he is not going to be far wrong. Dad is always realistic about things and frank in expressing his opinion. He is so even in this case.

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