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Interview with Lakshmi Manchu
Date: 23 July 2012, Hyderabad
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Lakshmi Manchu has not only inherited the acting prowess from his father, she has also inherited the shrewdness in production. She has used the production of UKUP to do it corporate style. UKUP has generated tremendous pre-release buzz. Here is an exclusive interview with Lakshmi Manchu -

How did UKUP happen?

Manoj told me the story line of UKUP in 2007. I was in USA at that time. Sekhar Raja’s debut film was supposed to be with me. We were working on a script titled Sahasra Sirachcheda Apoorva Chintamani (SSAC), which was supposed to be my acting debut. I was offered a role in Anaganaga O Dheerudu and SSAC was put on hold. Meanwhile, Manoj Manchu was doing other films like Vedam and Bindaas. It took so many years for UKUP to go to floors.

What is the story of UKUP?
UKUP is a socio-fantasy film and it also deals with life after death.

There seem to be a bit of Chandramukhi flavor?
If you look at the script of Chandramukhi, it will work irrespective of who the hero is. Rajnikant’s stardom has taken the movie to unbelievable heights. Likewise, UKUP is a script-value film. Big name like Bala Krishna will help the movie further.

What is the screen time of Bala Krishna’s role in this movie?
Bala Krishna will be there for 20 minutes before interval. But he is present throughout the movie.

Tell us about Manoj Manchu?
Manoj always wanted to be different. I tell him that he is not a DVD market hero and he should reach out to more and more people with his films. He achieved a lot of credibility by doing different films. He always want the producer to be happy. He has to give away 60% of his remuneration for Mr. Nokia to cinematographer Rajasekhar and music director Yuvan Shankar Raja as the producer didn’t pay them. I always tell him that he should be careful with his finances. He gives lacs of rupees of his hard-earned money to charity and come and ask me for 100 rupees.

Manoj never cares for stardom. He is like a new comer working his way out to make it big. Jhummandi Naadam became a variety film (routine for regular heroes) for Manoj who has been experimenting since Nenu Meeku Telusa? In UKUP, there are negative shades to his character. he has portrayed villainy and sadism to the extreme degree in UKUP.

Mohan Babu said in the function that UKUP is a 11-crore budgeted film and the it’s more than doubled?
He was just blaming us in public, but he also knows the real truth. UKUP was a 11-crore budgeted movie before Bala Krishna stepped in. Initially it was supposed to be a good entertainer with a bit of experimentation. After having Bala Krishna in the project, the range of the film is changed. Initially we wanted to shoot in the manduva house at Nanakramguda studios. Since, the orientation is changed we wanted to have a big Gandharva Mahal set which itself cost us 6.25 crores. We used around 2.5 lac tons of iron for Gandharva Mahal set. It is done in a complete studio set fashion. We have plans to rent it out for other films in future. If you add up the remuneration of Bala Krishna and other expenses to support the royalty and richness of the film, the budget is shot up. If somebody else had produced it, I am sure that UKUP would have cost around 40 crores. We bought the National award winning tune ‘Neelathamara’ from music director Vidya Sagar. Pixion Chennai has done impeccable visual effects. The total budget of the film is Rs 23,86,24,000/-. This doesn’t include prints, publicity and interest cost. Manchu Entertainment is soon going to be a multi national filmmaking company and we want to have clean auditing records right from the first film.

I am told that you have managed sold out film for all territories a month ahead of the release?
We are witnessing this kind of pre-release craze in our banner after Assembly Rowdy. We have 4 to 5 distributors from all areas fighting for the rights. But we selected distributors on the basis of genuinely, not on the basis of price. We are completely confident of the product and we selected buyer who can give us genuine overflows after the release.

Tell us about Bala Krishna role in this movie?
Bala Krishna’s role for UKUP is what Rajnikant’s role for Pedarayudu. Bala Krishna respects director a lot and he is a director’s actor. His role is a big plus for UKUP.

Tell us how differently you saved the budget of UKUP?
We had a tie-up with MBS Jewellers and loaned jewelry worth 1 crore rupees from their Mumbai showroom for this movie. We have also loaned a bike worth 30 lacs from Harley Davidson’s showroom in Hyderabad. Kala Mandir has provided us wedding costumes for the movie. Ganesh Nallari came up with a fabulous work for an episode in UKUP.

Tell us about Tamil version?
Telugu and Tamil versions were shot simultaneously. Varuvan Thalaivan (Tamil version of UKUP) is going to be the first Tamil film by Bala Krishna. We had certain Tamil actors exclusively working for Tamil version. Tamil version is not releasing on 27 July. It will be released at a right time in Tamil.

You are acting in Telugu and Tamil at present. You are producing two films and a TV show. And you attend other social activities like walking on the ramp and fashion shows. How do you manage your time?
I wake up at 6:30 am and complete my work by 9 pm. Even after doing so many things, I still have a lot of time to get bored.

What is your gut feel on UKUP?
UKUP will be a big hit and will be in the league of Chandramukhi and Arundhati. This is my gut feel and I want to go for a backpacking trip to Europe for two weeks after the success of UKUP.

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