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Interview with Arti Agarwal by Jeevi

: 6th October 2002 Venue: Padmalaya Studios
She made a silent entry into Bollywood with a disaster called Pagalpan. But as luck would have it, our ever-eager heroine-hunting Telugu producers noticed her and she did not hesitate to tread the Bollywood-rejects-Tollywood-accepts path to enter the Telugu film industry. Only that the acceptance in her case has been overwhelming.

From her highly successful debut film Nuvvu Naaku Nachhav, to her latest mega success Indra, she has tasted phenomenal success. Its no exaggeration that she is now being called the 'lady-luck' of Telugu film industry, acting with the same ease and élan with youth stars and super stars alike. features excerpts from an interview with the most happening heroine today - Arti Agarwal - exclusively for our beloved visitors.

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Tell us about your background

I was born and brought up in New Jersey, USA. I attended jazz classes in New Jersey and learnt acting at Asha Chandra Acting Institute in Bombay. My parents and relatives in USA are into hotel business and few of them are doctors. None of them have any contacts with the film industry.

How did you get your first break?

I attended a concert by Sunil Shetty and Govinda in USA. Sunil Shetty was looking for a girl from the audience who could dance along with him on the stage. I was wearing a prominent looking white dress and waving hands at him. He asked me to come onto the dais and I danced along with him. After the concert he called me backstage and told me that I looked very confident and that I should think about entering the film industry. I took it as joke then.

During my summer break I came to India to learn acting in Asha Chandra Institute. Rikku (Rakesh Nath -Madhuri Dixit's secretary) called me and offered me heroine's role opposite his son Karan Nath in Hindi film Pagalpan. That's how I got my first break.

How did you get a break in Telugu films?

After Pagalpan released, I went back to USA. Jayant called me for Takkari Donga and Suresh Babu also called me at the same time for Nuvvu Naaku Nachav. I guess they saw my photographs in Bombay. I could not do Takkari Donga as I was signed for Nuvvu Naaku Nachav.

How did you over come language barrier in Telugu films?

Initially I found myself out of place. Everybody knows the language and I was the only person sitting quietly without having any idea about what's happening on the sets. But over a period of time I started understanding it because people out here are very nice and understanding. But since I have decided to make it a career and stay here, I started liking what I am doing and I absolutely love working in Telugu films.

What are you studying now?

I just finished my +2 and I am taking a break. I would be entering my first year of college soon.

Being an American born desi, did u face any cultural conflicts in USA?

My parents always maintained Indian culture in our house. All our family members get together for every Indian festival. We are not allowed to speak English in our house. Only Gujarathi - my mother tongue - is allowed. Every summer, we used to visit India to meet our grand parents. Even being in USA, we had the Indian culture alive in our upbringing.

I used to go to a school that is dominated by Spanish people, whites and blacks. There were not many Indians in the school I studied. People used to think that I was a Puerto Rican. I shared my friends' hobbies. So I never felt out of place.

You are considered as the 'lady-luck' in Telugu film Industry, as all the films you acted in so far have become hits. How do you feel about it?

I feel really great that producers are considering me that way. But I would like to honestly admit that it's the teamwork and not just me that can contribute towards the success. Everybody is putting his or her best efforts. Moreover, my choice of movies until now I guess was right.

You have put on weight after Nuvvu Naaku Nachav. Is it an intentional move to please Telugu people who have a liking towards chubby heroines?

(grins) It's nothing like that. I am doing so many outdoor shoots and I have no time. I also miss USA food. Because of my hectic schedules I don't get enough time to go to the gym.

Any plans of to(u)ning your body?

Yes! I really have to do it.

Tell us your observation about each and every Telugu hero you have worked with so far?

I always have a special place for Venky in my heart. I really love him. He is down to earth and very professional. I did not feel like I was working with a big star when I was shooting with him.

I do gel well with Tarun as we belong to the same age group. NTR is like a little kid. He is always fooling around in the sets. He never lets you sit quite.

Working with Chiranjeevi garu was an experience in itself. The credit for my performance in Indra goes to Chiranjeevi garu. He helped me with each and every shot. I learnt a lot from him. Initially I was discouraged by some people that if I act with elder heroes, I might be graduated to a stage where I would be unfit to be paired up with youth heroes. But my father pushed me into doing it. After working with him, I realized that it was a biggest opportunity

I get along very well with Mahesh Babu. We worked like a family along with the production team for the Bobby.

I am currently doing Nee Sneham with Uday Kiran. He is a very quite person. It was nice working with him. I really don't know him much. We hardly spoke to each other.

What are your friends' reactions after seeing you on the big screen?

I was 16 when Pagalpan was released. My make-up, costumes and hair-do were bad because it was a low budget film. But all my Telugu films were released in USA. Even my American friends go to the theaters to watch my Telugu films. They are absolutely thrilled watching me on the big screen.

Which is your favorite role till date?

Of half of the offers I get, heroine needs to expose. And I never wanted to do that. I always felt that there is more to heroine than just running around trees, exposing and showing off her body. I feel that a good actress is the one who shows expression from face not from the body. Only Snehalatha Reddy character is different from the other characters I played.

Things seem to have gone wrong between you and Mohan Babu. Tell us the real version.

I was new to this world. I heard so many things about Mohan Babu like he slaps heroines. When Mohan Babu called up my dad to talk about casting me in his film, my dad told him that I was afraid of him. Then Mohan Babu called me up and assured that he would treat me like a princess as long as I worked hard and was disciplined. He sounded very nice over the phone. But again, I was new to this place and I was somehow not comfortable.

Your character in Nuvvu Naaku Nachav has lot of sensibility in it and all other roles so far have been more of glamour-oriented. Can we expect a film with such a nice characterization from you in the future?

Yes. My character is Nee Sneham would fit that bill. I am playing a simple middle class girl who always wears half-sarees and chudidaars.

Tell us about your character in Bobby?

I am playing the role of Bhagyamati in Bobby. My character belongs so much to the present generation. She is youthful and bubbly and at the same time very emotional.

Is Bobby inspired by Romeo and Juliet?

Every story has love angle attached to it. This film is about a celluloid dream come true of director Sobhan's love story. I would not say that it's a film based on Romeo and Juliet. But it's something similar to it.

How do you manage dances in films?

It mostly depends on the choreographers. I feel most comfortable working with Lawrence. I also like Raja Sekhar Master. Both of them know what I can do and what I cannot. Suchitra is good at songs with feelings. I got a great response for 'Ela Ela' (from Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu) that is composed by Suchitra. After that song, lots of choreographers are encouraging me to come up with expressions similar to those in 'Ela Ela' song. All that credit goes to Suchitra.

What are your future films?

I signed a film with Bala Krishna garu that starts in November in the direction of B Gopal. I am also doing a film with Venky for Suresh Productions for which the script is not yet finalized. I am also doing a film with NTR, which would start in November 2003. Negotiations for other films are going on and I have not confirmed anymore yet.

What is your future career plan? You can't continue as heroine forever

That's the reason why I am simultaneously concentrating on my studies. Once I stop acting in films, I have education to rely on. I could do medicine and continue that as my profession. I give priority to education over acting.

What's your date of birth?

March 5th. My sun sign is Pisces. I believe in sun signs and I read my horoscope daily.

Your sister Aditi Agrawal is making her debut with Gangotri. Tell us about her!

I am told that she is doing really well. She is a slimmer version of me. K Raghavendra Rao garu and her co-star Allu Arjun told me that she is amazing at the work. I am proud of her.

Do you have any other siblings?

I have a brother who is one year elder to me. He is very good in sports. He is a good basketball player. He is interested in technical aspects of movies.

Tell us about your -

Favorite books and authors?

My favorite book is 'Conversations with God'. I must have read this book at least five times. I love reading books by author Danielle Steel.

Favorite movies?

My favorite film is A walk to remember. I like watching any movie starring Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone. My favorite movie of Sylvester is Cliff Hanger.

Favorite food?

I liked Mexican and Italian food in USA. Here in Hyderabad, I like pizzas. The Mexican food made in Hyderabad restaurants is very indianized. I love Chinese food here. But I am sick and tired of idli and dosa stuff that is served every morning. I even miss my breakfast because of that. One thing I cannot live without is sweets. Now you know why I am so chubby! My sister Aditi is fond of ice creams.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is my family and my weakness is my love for sweets. Also my friends say that I am over ambitious. I believe in the age-old adage 'Hard work always pays'.

Don't you feel sad that at this tender age, you gave up you college life to work hard in a film industry?

I am only 18 now. For an ordinary girl, 18 is the age when she enjoys, hangs out with friends. Every girl at my age enjoys. But I am working here like a dog. But one thing keeps me inspiring all the time that is I am on the TV of every house and in the hearts of every Telugu movie lover.

When did you first come across

When I was acting in Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, I used to visit cyber cafes very often. It was comfortable then, as nobody knew me at that time. I asked the cyber café guy to recommend me to a good Telugu film web site and he recommended me to That was the first time I saw and got hooked to it. Even my brother and sister visit regularly.

Any message to IB visitors?

I visit a lot because its one of my favorite sites. I am sure people visiting such a good site are good too and such good people always appreciate good films. Enjoy all the good things in life, which needless to say, include all my films.

Interviewed by Jeevi
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