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The Rediff Interview / Venkatesh
The spiritual filmstar
March 29, 2006
Telugu superstar Venkatesh has completed two decades in the industry. His filmography spans different genres but he is known for his family entertainers, and is a hit with women. And with his latest Lakshmi making waves at the box office, life is looking good for him.
In his room in Rama Naidu Studios, you can find two books on spirituality – Vivekananda's Vasistha's Yoga and Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi -- on the large table.
And in conversation with Radhika Rajamani, Venkatesh talks about his latest hit, his career and his spirituality.
You must be happy with the success of Lakshmi?
What contributed to the movie's success?
The film was packaged well with emotions, which the women audiences love -- like my films Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, Malleswari, Sankranthi -- and a touch of violence coupled with good music by Yuvan Shankar Raja. So the tough-soft blend of characterisation came out well with a different look.
What made you sign the film?
It had scenes which women audience like. Lakshmi was a clever mix and the right film at the right time.
Could you talk about your next film Aadavari Matalaku Ardhalu Verule? Isn't the title a bit too long?
Yes, the title is long. That line is a popular one from a film song of the 1960s which is on most people's lips. It was chosen as the title because it suits the storyline. It is an interesting love story against a family backdrop.
Selvaraghavan is directing that film. Have you seen his work?
Selvaraghavan has made a mark in the film industry, and his movies are different. I watched his 7 G Brindavan Colony. He is able to get good performances from actors. Aadavari… will be his first Telugu film and it is a realistic, natural love story. He liked the way I am and felt that kind of look has not been explored. The movie is certainly a commercial one.
Do you think it is refreshing working with young directors as they come with new ideas?
Their thoughts are different. The whole way they create the script and approach the scenes is a learning experience too.
What are your other new projects?
I will be doing a film produced by Suresh Productions -- my home production house -- and another one produced by M S Raju. Both the scripts are being worked on.
How has the two-decade journey in the film industry been?
It's been great. I'm lucky people have accepted me from the beginning. I was lucky to succeed even after taking some risks (in the choice of films) in the early days. I have been accepted in all kinds of roles. I thank all my directors and story writers for this and even my sixth sense in taking risks with some projects.
For example, with films like Chanti (remade in Hindi as Anari), Pavithra Bandham, Pellichesukundam. I have received many awards. Now I have a desire to do more roles which are more challenging and different.
My spiritual attitude has helped me. Success and failure never bothered me. My reaction is balanced – there is no over-reaction. My name tag as Venkatesh, the hero, bothers me. I don't identify myself as a hero. This is just a drama. I am playing in it, so I am supposed to do well. So I prepare for it when I wear that name tag.
You have done all genres of cinema but you seem to be successful in family-based entertainers.
It's difficult to say why. There could be many reasons for it. My personal image too has helped me – I am not controversy-prone.
You have acted in quite a few remakes -- especially of Tamil films.
My being in Chennai -- till I shifted to Hyderabad -- and familiarity with Tamil and the Tamil film industry is the main reason. I used to see Tamil movies and then decide on remaking them. Commercially also, remakes have a minimum guarantee and are viable as there is clarity in production costs.
Does your spirituality give you a sense of peace and solace?
There is no doubt about that. I am a person without any goal and ambitions. And I achieved success. When many of my films were hits I could not react normally. There was an internal restlessness – something bothering me. I could not find answers to the question – who am I? Initially I thought if I go to Himalayas for six months perhaps I would be happy. I did go, but it was the same (feeling).
Slowly spiritual science began to make sense. Reading the works of great masters like Vivekananda, Ramana brought clarity and I found answers in their works.
The 'advaitic' path has helped me. My final achievement will be to find myself. I am reading and re-reading the masters, I like being alone – enjoy the aloneness and I am connected all the time.
I look at something beyond Venkatesh, the man. Prarabdha, super power and self effort are interlinked. Respecting that and living that moment, keep doing what you do.
Life now is…