Venkatesh: I am confident that Drishyam will do well
Venkatesh’s filmography in his 27-year-old film career includes several remakes. After Masala (the Telugu remake of Bol Bachchan) the superstar is back with another remake in Drishyam.
The original Drishyam, in Malayalam, was not just a super hit but also gave its hero, Mohanlal, a much-needed super hit.
The Telugu Dhrishyam, starring Meena, Nadia Moidu, etc is directed by actress turned director Sripriya, and produced by Suresh Productions and Rajkumar Sethupathy.
It is slated for release this Friday, June 11.
In this interview Venkatesh outlines what Dhrishyam is all about and also talks about making remakes and acting in multi-starrer films.
What excites you about remaking films from other languages in Telugu? Of late you have acted in Eenadu (remake of A Wednesday), Nagavalli (Aptharakshaka in Kannada), Bodyguard (the Hindi Bodyguard) and Masala (Bol Bachchan).
All actors look for good work. It is a viable business proposition. There are excellent scripts in other languages.
The challenge is to fit into the role, into a new body language.
Image: Venkatesh in Drishyam
'When I attempt remakes with a strong content, they never fail'
Won’t audiences experience a feeling of deja vu with remakes?
Not at all. There are so many people. Only one per cent or half per cent of the people will have seen the original.
Even if they have seen the original, they will be interested to see how the film is adapted and improvised.
There are more expectations from a hit film. People who have seen the original spread the word that it is a good film. There is a positive feel before the release of the remake.
If the actors are good, people are keen to watch a remake.
Some of your recent remakes -Eenadu and Masala to name two - haven’t fared as well as you had perhaps expected. Were you disheartened?
When I attempt remakes with a strong content, they never fail. Bol Bachchan was an average film. It was because of the director and hero combo that it became glamorous.
More than the subject, this helped. The audience was smart enough to realise that it was an average film when it was remade as Masala in Telugu.
For us (Suresh Productions) it was viable and a decent project and we didn’t fail.
Eenadu should have been done by other character-actors. It was a niche subject not viable for two big heroes!
Image: Meena and Venkatesh in Drishyam
'My previous films were not up to the mark'
Drishyam has fared well in Malayalam and Kannada. Do you think it will live up to expectations in Telugu as well?
I am confident it will as the subject is universal.
My previous films were not up to the mark.
Drishyam will touch the family as it has those emotions. I play the role of a father with two daughters. So it has a fresh look. People will connect faster to it.
As an actor, did you face any challenges while doing Drishyam?
I slipped into the role easily. Since it is a simple one look-wise, I wore cotton clothes.
As an actor, one should slip easily into the environment, attire and scenes. One should be sincere and observant too.
Right from childhood I have observed how people are and I have spent time with lots of people, observing their body language, simplicity, innocence…
This is your fifth film with Meena. How was it acting with her?
Our films have been successful and we have done different genres.
She has done an outstanding job. Only a few people can carry off that kind of role.
It is a mature role and I am glad she took it up in Telugu too.
Image: A still from Drishyam
'I am looking for mature roles'
For the first time, a woman director (Sripriya) is directing you.
Sripriya is an experienced actress and has a lot of energy. She is sincere and has a passion for making films.
Mohanlal played the lead role in the original. Did you consult him on this project?
I met Mohanlal. Drishyam gave him a hit after a long time.
It is difficult to do a Mohanlal film, but Drishyam’s subject has universal appeal.
He was happy that I was doing this film as he felt I was the appropriate choice.
What would you say are the highlights of Drishyam?
A gripping story, an extraordinary screenplay, and emotions that will connect to everyone.
You are known for acting in family entertainers. What appeals to you about this genre of film?
I have been fortunate that my films have been family-oriented and women-oriented. They are clean films sans vulgarity.
I think those emotions are close to my heart as I am a product of a joint family. My father also made a lot of those films. I have a weakness for such films. Audience also accepted those films.
At the same time, I also made films like Ganesh and Dharmachakram and I was fortunate that audiences accepted them also.
It is nice to make clean, good films. I am comfortable with them. It does not mean that I am against other kinds of films. As an actor I take from what comes to me.
Now, I am looking for mature roles.
Image: Venkatesh in Drishyam
'Acting with the younger heroes gives a fresh look to the film'
What is the status of Gopala Gopala (a remake of the Hindi film Oh My God)?
We have finished one schedule and will be doing the next shortly, where Pawan (Kalyan) will join me.
What’s happening on the spiritual front?
It is fantastic. I plan to visit the samadhis of the great masters in Punjab and Europe (Italy and France) some time.
Suresh Productions is into its 50th year. This is its first production this year. How does it feel to be a part of this?
It is a great achievement. My father worked hard and then my brother Suresh took it on.
That we have come so far is wonderful. I would give the credit to the people of Andhra Pradesh. (the unified state), the technicians, actors etc who helped us reach this stage, encouraging us all the way.
We continue to be an example of a hard-working and disciplined unit.
Now you seem to be doing multi-starrers. Is this going to be a trend in Telugu cinema?
There’s no doubt about it. After Seethammo Vakitlo Sirimalle Puvvu I did Masala and now I am doing Gopala Gopala.
Bunny (Allu Arjun) and Charan did one, Nag and NTR Jr are doing one.
Acting with the younger heroes gives a fresh look to the film. It is a healthy trend. One can do more roles too. I look forward to this and working in other languages too.
Image: Venkatesh and Meena in Drishyam