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Interview with MS Raju by Jeevi

7 pm Date: 28th January 2005 Venue: Sumanth Arts Guest House

MS Raju - the most prolific and successful Telugu film producer in the recent times - delivered 3 continuous blockbusters (Okkadu, Varsham and NVNV) for three consecutive Sankranthi's. met with MS Raju for another exclusive interview at his guest house. Here are the excerpts -

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3 blockbusters in a row! How do you feel it?
In my opinion, it is '5 hits in a row'. My film Manasantha Nuvve was a good blockbuster. Nee Sneham is a pretty good class film which made break-even and bit of profits. As per trade, Nee Sneham collected 60% of Manasantha Nuvve revenue. Nee Sneham was also a successful film as it was made with a low budget. From Okkadu onwards, I had a continuous blockbuster spree.

You seem to have invented a formula for making successful films?
I have not discovered any formula. If I know the formula for success, I would rather sell it for crores to other filmmakers than risking my money and making films.

But, you seem to be making films with confidence and they go on to become blockbusters?
The secret lies in setting the mood and track of the film. Once you set the mood of the film, then the sense of insecurity would go away. All my films have old stories and novel narration. And each of my films is different from the other.

What prompted for you to make soft flick like NVNV after actions films Okkadu and Varsham?
I wanted to take a break from action films for a while and do a wholesome entertainer in the style of trendy Bollywood flicks of Suraj Barjatya and Karan Johar genre. This film too has bonhomie, vibrant colors, family values and positive outlook.

In previous chitchat with, you said that Prabhu Deva is the best director you had ever worked with so far. He proved himself with NVNV. Are you repeating him?
I am making 3 films with Prabhudeva. 1st film is NVNV. Second film would be Pournami with Prabhas and Trisha in the main leads. Muhurat of Pournami would be held on 14th May 2005. After that Prabhu Deva would do a film for outside banner and I would do a film with another director. We would reunite again after 1 film gap.

You have not repeated any director after Kodi Rama Krishna so far. Why are you repeating Prabhu Deva? Why not other directors who worked with you earlier?
I do not mind repeating the directors. But at the same time directors should also be willing to work with me. There are certain birds that left the nest after a film with Sumanth banner, thinking that they could fly on their own. A wise bird stays in the nest and gets proper training about flying before taking off independently. Prabhu Deva belongs to the category of the wise birds. He knows the value of teamwork and he is matured. He has worked as a choreographer with 100's of producers/directors/technicians/heroes and he knows what works for him.

People call your films as MS Raju's films. Media attributes the success of your films more to MS Raju than to director?
I would be cheating myself if I declare that I am the only guy responsible for success. It is a perfect example of teamwork. I am like the thread. Cast and crewmembers are like flowers. Thread keeps all flowers together in a garland. I am currently playing the role of a thread. We need each other to make a beautiful garland. At the same time, it is the flower that gives fragrance. MS Raju and team are like a 'mallepoola danda'.

At the same time, we cannot undermine the importance of the contribution of Prabhu Deva as director. He involved himself in each and every field of filmmaking. He is very receptive and listens to even laymen if they come forward with any suggestions. I made a small suggestion and he immediately accepted. The result is my appearance in 'yele yele' bit of 'Chandrudile Vunde Kundelu' song. Prabhu Deva is a honest and dedicated director. He has no ego at all!

What is the reason for repeating Trisha for a consecutive 3rd time (Varsham, NVNV and Pournami)?
If you observe all my films, heroines do play vital and meaningful roles in my films. I feel that in a family, wife is as important as husband. Likewise, in films too, heroine is as important as hero. After Satruvu and Police Lockup, Vijaya Shanti always wanted to work for Sumanth Arts banner. After Varsham, Trisha volunteered to be a part of my future films if the role suits her. Trisha is one of the most talented and beautiful actress I have ever worked with. I would go to the extent of comparing her work to that of Savitri, Nargis and Sophia Lauren.

Are you satisfied with NVNV as it is going to be the biggest grosser ever made by you?
I am never satisfied with my films. I could see so many scenes that could have been handled better. Filmmaking is like climbing Everest. I am just in the middle of it.

You films are being continuously remade in Tamil. Did anyone approach for Tamil remake rights of NVNV?
Okkadu was remade in Tamil as Gilli by AM Ratnam and it was a big blockbuster. SP Balasubramanyam is currently remaking Varsham in Tamil. There are around 8-9 producers who approached me for Tamil remake rights of NVNV. Negotiations are going on. All my films have very good human emotions, clean entertainment and cool music that would be liked by all the people irrespective of language.

NVNV seems to be dramatized too much towards the climax. The climax looks forced as the rest of the film go on natural flow. What is the reason?
I make sure that there is a peppy song as a lead to the climax and a climax with high voltage drama. Right from Devi Putrudu, all my films have the same graph towards climax. It helps in making films commercially more acceptable.

What do you think are negative points in NVNV?
There are negative points in all my super hit films. A film would become a hit when positive points dominate negative points. Checkout my film Okkadu! The climax is bit hurried up. We had confusion whether to let Mahesh get Bhumika or play the game in the climax. We also had to insert a beautiful song in order to make sure that it would enthuse crowds in B and C centers. At the same time I make sure that there is emotion in my film as emotion leaves all the logics behind.

What is the best compliment you got for this film?
Lots of big celebrities of Telugu cinema who did not call me up after Okkadu and Varsham called me this time after coming out of theater to congratulate me. I cannot reveal their identities.

Tell us more about Pournami?
It will have Prabhas and Trisha in the main leads. The same technical team of NVNV (including cinematographer Venu) would be repeated for that film as well. Pournami is an auspicious name. Pournami means full moon day. It would have two shades. One is the coolness the moon gives and the other one is the heat it absorbs from sun. This film will have a soft love story with a violent backdrop.

Varsham brought stardom to Prabhas. Where would Pournami take him to?
It would be an extension of Varsham. It is just a comparison. If Varsham were Firstblood, Pournami is going to be Rambo. I am talking about the range/stardom/maturity of the films, and they do not have anything to do with the storylines of those Hollywood films.

Don't you try your hand at producing films in other languages?
I would prefer to be a king in my homeland than a struggler in alien territories. I will make only Telugu films.

I heard rumors that you would be introducing your son Sumanth as hero in this year?
Sumanth is currently pursuing his 1st year in B. Com. It would take at least 3 years to complete his studies. Then I would introduce him to Telugu film industry in the field (actor/technician) he is interested in. Also, he actively participates in shooting/editing work of my films.

Why bonhomie climax in your films?
Maro Charitra has a tragic climax. The film would have been a big hit even if the climax was a happy one. My friend saw it 14 times and I saw it 30 times. But my friend used to go out of the theater before climax from the 2nd viewing onwards. He could not stand a tragic climax.

Tell us about your scripting process?
My whole script would be ready before the start of the film. But I get better judgment when I see rushes in the editing room. That is the reason why I shoot the first half of the film first and then move on to the shooting of second half. When you shoot the first half, you would learn more about the character and see how effectively each and every character is established and how they behave. I travel through the characterization and then I decide about how effectively I shape the second half. My script would change during the making of the film. Pundits tell us that scripts are bounded and the screenplay of the film is written on the left side of the page etc etc. But these kinds of rules do apply for the films that are made over 3-4 years. My style of filmmaking is entirely different.

I narrate the story of the film to Paruchuri brothers first to see if my judgment is correct. When everybody is after Rayalaseema for action films and Konaseema for village love stories, I preferred Nizam (Warangal) for Varsham backdrop. When I discuss with my team members more and more inputs do follow.

Do you have any suggestions to the wannabe directors?
Inti gelichi racha gelavamannaru. I would first teach them to my son. If he succeeds then I would preach them to others.

Any message from you?
Try and keep trying. One day you will get the eluding success. Perseverance is the key.

Know more about MS Raju in another interview (6th December 2002)


Interviewed by Jeevi
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