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Interview with Shashank by Jeevi

Shashank made his debut as flamboyant gambler in Aithe. He then donned the role of Gang leader in Sye. His realistic portrayal of cabbie in latest hit flick AOR has got him tremendous recognition. has met with Shashank at Coffee Day on the evening of 11th July for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -

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Tell us about your educational background?
I am born and brought up in Secunderabad. My roots are in Telangana. I studied in St. Patrick School till 10th class. I did my intermediate in St. Maries (Himayat Nagar). I completed B. Com through distance learning in Andhra University.

How did you get interested in films?
I am a hardcore fan of Chiranjeevi since my childhood. I used to watch his films in theater and go home and dance along with my brother till I get tired. It is Chiranjeevi who inspired me to become an actor. I knew that I do not have any filmy background. Still I wanted to become hero since there is a place in film industry to every actor who is talented and hardworking.

What efforts did to make to come into filmy line?
I got my primary portfolio done by Aravind Chenji in 2000. Then I visited all studios and producers with my portfolio. Nobody has shown interested in me. Then I decided to have some formal training. I got trained at Mr. Dixit first. Then I went to Kishore Namit Kapoor institute (that trained celebrated superstar like Hrithik Roshan) in Mumbai. I got my second portfolio done by Aravind Chenji in 2002. Chandra Sekhar Yeleti has seen my portfolio in February 2002 and cast me as one of the four guys in 'Aithe' film. That is how I got my first break.

What kind of roles you are looking forward to?
Acting is my career. I am here to stay. I don't want to accept all the offers that come in my way. I want to be selective so that I can survive in the industry for a long term. The three films I worked so far have given me different image. I want to balance between performance-oriented films and commercial films.

Tell us your experience in working for your 3 films?
My interaction with Chandu (Chandra Sekhar Yeleti) and Gangaraju has given me the experience of working for 10 films. They have deeply affected my thinking process. After Aithe film, I met almost all big producers and directors. It was SS Rajamouli who encouraged me by saying few kind words and then selected me in a vital role in his film Sye. It is kind of an achievement to work with such a topnotch commercial director SS Rajamouli. And Chandu cast me again for his second film AOR.

What kind of homework did you do to play the cabbie role in AOR?
I went to study the cab drivers in Hyderabad. Then I realized that none of the cabbies have the profile of Rajesh character, who is a graduate who drive for a part time. It was Chandu who designed the looks for me. I tried to imagine how a student cabbie would behave in those situations and acted as per my intuitions and judgment. I tried adding spontaneity on the sets. I want to involve myself with the character.

Are you good at wheels? Is it difficult to drive Ambassador Car?
I am comfortable at driving, even if it is an Ambassador. I insisted on driving myself during the chase episodes where camera was placed at remote location. I wanted to be at wheel myself even if I don't appear in the frames. I desist working with dupes unless there is a grave danger to my life.

Who is your role model in acting?
I grew up with the diet of watching Chiranjeevi's film. In Career, I would like to take Vikram as role model. He balances the performance oriented films with commercial flicks. I have done all my 3 films so far with performance orientation. I feel lucky to start my career with performance oriented roles so that even if I do commercial films they would not complain if I alternate between performance films.

Did you do your own dubbing?
I did my own dubbing for all the film I worked. I am basically a Telangana guy. Fortunately all the films I worked so far had the realistic accent of a Hyderabadi. I am very comfortable at Telugu and would love dub the way character requires me to do.

Does it not pinch you when most of the kids of film personalities getting big launches as heroes, as you - being a guy with non-filmy background - had to suffer your own way up?
I don't have any grudges against them. There is a place for every hardworking talented guy in the industry. I am hardworking and talented. Hence there is no reason for me to feel jealous.

Tell us about your family background?
My father S. Raju is Assistant General Manager of SBI (State Bank of India) for Orissa wing. My mother Usha Rani is Associate Professor of Linguistics Department in Osmania University. I have a younger brother who is in 4th year of Engineering.

What kind of support did you get from your family?
Like any other parents, my parents wanted me to shine good in studies. But my heart was always there in films. I could not concentrate in studies. My parents understood my intentions and allowed me to aim for acting. Once they decided to let me enter acting field, they gave me complete support.

What's your future projects?
I am getting lots of offers. But none of those offers seem exciting to me. I am here to stay for a long run. Hence I am not getting tempted to accept any role that comes in my way. I have come a long way now. I don't want to go down from this point. If I accept any film, I will make sure that it has something new to offer.

Did you get any appreciations from industry for your histrionics in AOR?
Krishna Vamsi, Prabhu Deva, Sekhar Kammula. Venky and ML Kumar Chowdary appreciated me for my work. I would like to thank them all.

What about money? Are you earning enough?
I am after good films. If I do good films, then money would be after me.

Did you get recognized in public? How do you feel about it?
A few people started noticing me after Aithe. My role in Sye got a bit more recognition. After the release of AOR, I am getting noticed everywhere. Surprisingly I am approached more by girls than boys. What amazes me is the fact that girls who generally are after chocolate boys are preferring actors with realistic portrayal. I guess the tastes of girls have changed over a period of time.

Do you have any girlfriend?
I have lots of friends who are girls. But I do not have any girlfriend. I am not looking for a girlfriend at this point of career.

Who are you favorite actors?
Chiranjeevi, Vikram, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino and Rober De Niro.

Who is your favorite director?
Ram Gopal Varma

What are you favorite films?
Cast Away (Tom Hanks), Good Fellas (Robert De Niro) and Scarface (Al Pacino)

How old are you?
I am 25. My date of birth is 22nd November 1979.

What is your email address?

Any message to the visitors of
Expect good films from me all the time. Watch my films and love me.

Other Interviews
Gangaraju Gunnam
Meghana Naidu (Heroine)
Venkatesh (Hero)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
Deepak (Hero)
Siddardh (Hero)
MS Raju (Producer)
Chiranjeevi (Hero)


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