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Chiranjeevi about 'Waltair Veerayya' and many issues


'Waltair Veerayya' is set to hit the cinemas on January 13. In this interview, he talks about the film, working with Bobby Kolli (director) and Ravi Teja. He also touches upon some of the most interesting offscreen aspects. Among them is his recent decision to thank the AP government despite the ostensible controversy surrounding the venue of the pre-release event in Vizag. The 'Bholaa Shankar' actor also answers why he is not interested in being called the eldest member of the Telugu film industry.

It was a great start today with 'Naatu Naatu' winning Gloden Globe. It's a proud moment. I congratulate everyone associated with 'RRR' and the song. Right from the start, our Telugu cinema has been golden. Stalwarts like KV Reddy were great filmmakers. In today's generation, we have reached a new peak. The likes of Rajamouli, Prashanth Neel and Shankar have contributed to Southern cinema reaching new heights of glory.

Commercial films bring out the best in me. I do such films keeping the audience in mind. At the same time, I also like performance-driven films. That's why I worked with the likes of K Viswanath and others. With time, I realized that I have to abide by commercial compulsions. The audience and fans have certain expectations of me. I have to cater to them. Only then can I ensure the well-being of producers/distributors. Within the limitations, I played a freedom fighter in 'Sye Raa'. 'GodFather' had me in a different role. Both films were respectable hits.

'Waltair Veerayya' is an attempt to completely cater to the mass audience. 'Mutha Mestri' and 'Gharana Mogudu' were my kind of films. 'WV' is my zone in that sense. You can watch it with your kids. They will enjoy it a lot!

Ravi Teja is the same as he was when I did 'Annayya' and 'Aaj Ka Goonda Raaj'. He was an upcoming actor at that time. He maintains the same level of energy, discipline and physicality to this day. He hasn't changed as a person. As an actor, he has evolved.

I don't go by how many comedy scenes are there, fights are there, etc. What matters the most are the emotions. Fights, comedy, and songs are decorative in nature. Emotions define the audience's experience. When I listen to a script, I ask myself what is there for the audience in it.

Bobby Kolli is a good listener. When you tell him there is a 'lag' in the script, he immediately goes back and works with his team to recalibrate the scene. Even after his father died, he recouped pretty fast and got back to work. Such is his dedication.

Producers Naveen Yerneni and Y Ravi Shankar of Mythri Movie Makers are passionate. Such producers need to be valued. 'WV' took Rs 40 lakh per day for production activities. We worked in such a way that wastage was minimized. The pre-production stage was done carefully. The number of working days was almost 125 days.

I give primacy to the satisfaction of my directors. I have to satisfy them before I am satisfied with my performance.

The day an actor stops working hard, he must retire. Amitabh Bachchan works hard even to this day. You have to be hungry for appreciation. You have to be spirited. If you lose your spirit, you better retire. The audience's love keeps me going after all these decades of being an actor. When I foresee their cheers, I am excited to give my best.

I am not against remakes. I am also okay with sequels. If you see 'GodFather', there is a potential for the protagonist's origin story. What did he do for 20 years in Dubai? That can be a separate story. 'GodFather' wouldn't have become a hit had there been no curiosity for remakes. We made grand changes to the original and that's why it worked in Telugu.

'Vedalam' has been remade as 'Bholaa Shankar'. It's not there on OTT. Such films can be happily remade. How differently can you make it? That's what your focus has to be on.

New directors have made solid content movies like 'Arjun Reddy', 'Jathi Ratnalu' and 'Uppena'. It's important for fresh ideas to be welcomed from newcomers.

I have to see how my evolution as an actor in terms of on-screen roles is going to be. I am open to playing father/grandfather a la Kamal Haasan and Venkatesh. But if the audience love to see me dance and play mass roles, I have to cater to their demands!

The likes of Clint Eastwood have worked even after they hit the age of 90. I might one day wield the megaphone if I am driven enough!

I thank the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for allowing a ticket hike for big-budget movies this Sankranthi.

Recently, I didn't speak anything against the AP government. Speaking up against the government might satisfy my ego, but it might put my producers, fans and distributors in trouble. So, my silence was the right thing! As for the change in the venue of pre-release event at the last minute, it was inevitable. The crowds were expected to be huge.

An actor has to always keep the interest of his entire team, including producers and technicians, in mind. Your behaviour has to be the best. Thanks to my discipline, I used to be flooded with offers all the time when I started young. I have never been jobless. Behaviour is more important than anything else. You have to be the same regardless of success or failure.

I have made it clear that I am no 'pedda dikku'. But if I can do something in my capacity, I am ready to do it using my influence. It is just that I don't want to be called the industry's elder.

I am only concerned with the end result. You need maturity and patience for it. Don't say anything in the spur of the moment. If I say something bad against the powers that be and it affects others, it won't reflect well on me. A slip of tongue will leave you regretting. 

Updated on January 11, 2023