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September 16, 2000


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'I love competition, even if it is my brother!'

Ravi Kiran

If you want to know what darling of the masses means, one word describes it: Chiranjeevi.

Chiranjeevi Other words describe him, too. Like Megastar. And box office catch.

So impressive is his box office potential that the minute you get his dates, you can rest assured you will be flooded with at least Rs 10 crore as advance from buyers!

But Chiranjeevi? There's no fixing a price tag on him. His value only skyrockets by the day. In fact, as he himself confesses, even his flops make money.

Recently, three of his films bombed at the BO in a row. After a year-long sabbatical, the star is back, keeping the cash registers buzzing. His latest film, Annayya (elder brother), completed 100 days in 63 centres!

"If you are aware of the changing trends and take measures to hold on to your seat, you can stretch your period of superstardom," explains the mild-mannered Chiranjeevi.

"He is a director's actor," said director Mahesh Bhatt once, who directed Chiru -- as fans love to call him.

The 'gentleman' K Balachander, the directors' director of Tamil films, who exploited Chiranjeevi's histrionic talents to the optimum in the national award-winning film, Rudraveena, says, "Chiranjeevi has both Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth in him. Not only can he do action, he can also act."

Chiranjeevi There's more to the success story. Not surprisingly, it involves having charted the sheer hard work and discipline path -- 22 years of it.

His was a battle he alone had to wage. He had no godfathers in the industry when he came in. Which only makes success the sweeter for him.

His track record reads 133 films, 91 of which celebrated 100 days, 18 of which were silver jubilee hits.

That's Chiranjeevi for you. A veritable gold mine.

Recently, the actor was shooting at Hyderabad's Annapurna Studios. Clad in in bloodstained clothes, fire in his hooded eyes, the role fairly screamed action.

Ravi Kiran spoke to Chiranjeevi, on action and acting:

This is the getup people love to see you in, isn't it? What's the story behind all this blood?

Actually, it's the climax scene for an M S Art Movies' film. It's a socio-fantasy. The villain is disrespectful to God. That's when I enter and attack him.

Normally you complete your films within three or four months. But you've been shooting for this film for four years now. Why the abnormal delay?

It's because of the heavy graphics work involved. That is the only reason for the delay.

For the first time in Indian cinema, we are picturising 20-24 minutes of the film in 3-D animation. It will be an amazing package of virtual reality. Quite spellbinding.

The producer, M Shyamprasad Reddy, an MBA graduate from the US, is highly quality cautious, keen for this film to be the ultimate product. To that end, the graphics is being done by an expert team led by Chris, known as UK-2, at London's Digitalia Studio.

The re-recording will be done in London, too. We're all very excited about the way the film is shaping up. The delay is immaterial.

I believe the film doesn't yet have a name...

It will be either Anji -- the name of the character I am playing -- or Aakashaganga.

Chiranjeevi What are the other projects you have in hand?

Well, there's Devi films' Mrigaraju, in which I've shot a song with Rambha, who's making a guest appearance.

Sonali Bendre will be my heroine, for the first time. Set against a forest backdrop, the film is being directed by Gunasekhar. After that I have my home production. Then there's Vijayabapineedu’s film.

You are working with freshers as well as veterans like K Raghavendra Rao. What difference have you perceived in their style, their thought, their approach?

The fact is, the earlier generation directors are unable to widen their thinking. Their thinking is limited.

They have failed to keep abreast with new standards and trends in the entertainment business. The younger lot is coming up with fresh thoughts. They are very aware of what is going on in world cinema.

These youngsters are exposed to new techniques, approaches to filmmaking and are keen to update their knowledge.

You have more than two decades of experience as an artiste. What are the changes you have come across? What are the changes you have experienced?

See, earlier, everybody would struggle for a story with a lot of twists, sentiments and emotions. Now, no one wants to go with such kind of stuff.

Now, it's just: take a simple storyline, add some interesting scenes and some foot-tapping numbers. If your way of presentation is different it will become a successful film. The main thing is, people don't want heavy movies.

Gone are the days when heavy and cultivated expressions were met with unusual acclaim. Even lengthy fights and heavy sounds have become stale. Now, it's quick fights and melodious music, so are gentle and subdued performances.

Actually, acting has now come very close to real life. Your job is to understand your character well and act within those limits. If you live the character, you will automatically attract the audience to you.

So what is your routine like?

I usually wake up at 4.45 am. Go for a jog at 5 am, after a little warm-up. Next, breakfast. And then I start thinking about the day's shooting. I make it a point to report on the sets on time. Then I forget everything else but the shoot.

How do you spend your free time?

Chiranjeevi Well, I sit at the computer as much as I can. I love fiddling around with Photoshop and 3-D max. I enjoy photomorphing and designing greeting cards on the system. I also spend hours surfing the Net.

Then, of course, I spend time with my family. I have no extravagant or fancy interests. I am a home-loving person. I enjoy going for long drives with my family.

Sushmita, my eldest daughter -- we call her Honey -- is doing her course in fashion technology. My son, Ramcharan Tej -- Cherry -- is in the ninth grade. My youngest daughter, Sreeja -- Sweety -- is in her fifth standard. There is such a sweetness in all of them!

What are your views on parenting?

Parents should never be overbearing. You must make your children believe in you. Make them trust you. Children are very fragile -- take care to treat them with kid gloves.

Above all, you must understand your children.

What are your future plans?

I plan to set up a media company which will provide software to private channels with my brothers and brother-in-law, Allu Aravind. Can't say when it will happen, though.

Your younger brother, Pawan Kalyan, who entered the industry four years ago, has had two big hits in a row. His latest film is said to have been sold for over Rs 10 crore. Tough competition from home....

I love competition. If the competitor is my brother, what more can I ask for?

He's made me proud. Looking at Pawan's success is just like watching my own image in a mirror.

But he knows exactly what is good and what isn't for him.

Chiranjeevi What is your dream role?

Whatever roles I have acted I have neither dreamt of nor have been my aim!

But I would certainly like to play historical characters like Prithviraj and Chandragupta if I get a pukka script.

What kind of music do you like?

Fast, usually. When I'm alone, I prefer to listen to instrumental music.

Your favourite films?

I like Bond movies. And comedies. Sean Connery and Charlie Chaplin are my favourites.

Your favourite food?


Favourite game?




Name: Konidela Shivasankara Prasad
Date of Birth: August 22, 1955
Place of birth: Narasapuram (Andhra Pradesh)
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Parents: K Venkat Rao and Anjana Devi
First film: Punaadi Raallu
First movie released: Pranam Khareedu (1978)
Wife: Surekha
Children: Sushmita, Ramcharan Tej, Sreeja
Awards won: A P Govt Nandi Awards: Swayankrushi (1987) and Apatbandhavudu (1992). Over 10 Filmfare Awards won.

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