You need to have a big heart for enacting roles which don’t suit your age on the celluloid. In this hypocritical glamour world, a lady artiste, from the low-rung to a top heroine, will never disclose her age and do not hesitate to reduce the original figure by not less than 10 years. At this juncture, “Chitti Naidu’s mom in Ready” Surekha Vani, a busy character artiste frankly admits that: “Yes. I look older than I look on the screen. I am never after glamour roles, but I want to have a very long career in the industry. Of late, I got opportunities to do solo-heroine roles, but I didn’t show much interest. The so-called craze for heroines is limited to a few years. But, I believe, as a character artiste I will have longevity.” This actress, still in her late twenties, says without any remorse. “Recently, a director repeatedly requested me to play mother role to a young hero. Am I that old? I thought for a while, but didn’t get angry. This is the way of the world. After all, films are business.” An exclusive interview with her:
Tell us about your background before coming to films?
I am from Vijayawada. I was lucky to have a very interesting childhood there. My father is a business man; and my mom, a housewife. During school days, I was a busy participant in cultural programs. When I was in 8th class, I took up anchoring for children programs on the local cable TV in Vijayawada. That way, I became a popular person in the city. I felt thrilled when people started recognizing me as an anchor. After Intermediate, I took up anchoring as my profession. Slowly, I could get opportunities in films. I got married so early, have a 7-year-old daughter now, but I could consolidate in my profession.
Tell us about your marriage?
I had quit studies with Intermediate and took up anchoring as my profession. That time, I fell in love with my colleague, working in the local cable TV network. We loved each other and got married. That’s it.
Did you face any problems in love marriage?
No. Since both of us were in the same field, we could understand each other. And our parents also – both sides – understood our attachment and said OK.
Why did you choose anchoring as your career?
Somehow, I liked the profession. I don’t know exactly – Why? I neither dreamt of becoming an actress nor an anchor to that matter. Just I loved fine arts. I also learnt dances. Even watching movies is also not my forte. I occasionally watch. Even now also.
Tell us about your entry into the small screen?
After working in local cable channels in Vijayawada, we came to Hyderabad. My husband was working in Maa TV. Getting bored and alone at house, I used to accompany my hubby to his office now and then. Several people told him not to keep me idle, but could make me an anchor. Later, along with him, I did programs like Maa Talkies, Heart Beat and the like. But, the program which got me instant recognition was Moguds Pellams with Sivaji Raja. My hubby directed this program.
You did Moguds Pellams on TV, but why didn’t you do the heroine in its film version?
In fact, I didn’t get any call to act in that film. Even while doing the TV version, I got offers in films and left that after a few episodes. The program was later continued with Roja and Sujitha. Though, they asked me again, later, I couldn’t do as I had lost my interest.
How come you got entry into Tollywood?
Actually, I never showed big interest to join films. Till date, my debut film is yet to release. It got stalled long back. I don’t even remember its title. True to my real life role, I played an anchor in Tiger Harishchandra Prasad. Even after that, I got offers in a couple of films, but I said no. Somehow, I accepted Ravi Teja film Badra, and it got me a good name. From that project onwards I took up acting as my profession. So far, I finished 48 films.
When you entered the film industry, you were very young. Did you ever try to become a heroine?
No. I have a pucca idea on my profession. See, if I do the heroine, how many films would do? At the maximum, just 10 films or even below that. But, as a character artiste, I can have a permanent bond with the film industry. I like this most.
Don’t you think you will not have much scope to perform as a character artiste?
There you are faltering. The roles intended for heroines have the real monotony. As a heroine, her role is set. You don’t find much variety. She has to do routine romancing, dancing like that. But, as a character artiste, I could show variety, difference from one character to the other. As a mother, sister, sister-in-law, friend, neighbor and what not. Now tell me. What is the plight of a Mumaith Khan? Though she is made the heroine, still she has come and dance, thinly dressed.
Which is your favorite role among all the ones you did so far?
Of all my roles, I like the one I did in Swarabhishekam, a film by Viswanath garu. After that, I equally like my sister-in-law role Ravi Teja in Badra. But, my fortune got a thud with “Chitti Naidu’s mother” role. It is hilarious. All my neighbors talked about my role for several days. They said mine was a hit role after Brahmanandam’s McDonald Murthy. I hope I shall continue to get such memorable roles.
Tell us about your “screen son” Bharath (Chitti Naidu)?
Really, Bharath is a wonderful boy. The audience is prone to think that he is a mischievous boy. But, he isn’t. He is a very serious boy. Even during the shooting gap, he would be busy with reading books, making drawings like that. The way how addresses others is also very dignified. But, as and when he is asked to come onto the sets and act, he will do with the vigor as if he had been possessed. I consider him a very rare and talented artiste.
What kind of roles you wish to do?
Any kind of role. I don’t have any inhibitions. Just I am here to act in various roles. I am ready for all. Be it that of a rowdy lady, mother, in-law, sister, homely or mass.
Do you have any plans to take up TV serials again?
Not interested. Of course, I don’t find any necessity to go back to TV serials. It is a time consuming process. Everyday you have to do it like a regular job. It might affect my family schedules. Anyways, I am happy with Tollywood.
What is your opinion about film industry?
I don’t have any particular opinion. Generally, it’s good. When I came to act in my first film, people treated me very tenderly and with respect. I wish to have it for me as long as I continue in this field.
What’s your unfulfilled dream?
I have no Degree. I hope I will get it in future.
Manjari Fadniz (Actress)
A Raja Sekhar (Director)
Sayaji Shinde (Actor)
Viswa Tej (Actor)
Geetha Madhuri (Playback Singer)
Sneha Ullal (Actress)
Prem Kumar Patra (Producer)
GV Prakash (Music director)
Mohana Krishna Indraganti (Director)
Bharat (Child actor)
Malini Dasari (Cinematographer)
Rama Jogaiah Sastry (Lyricist)
Uday Kiran (Hero)
Aditi Sharma (Heroine)
Nagur Babu (Mano) (Singer)
Sekhar Suri (Director)
Sindhu Menon (Heroine)
Vinu Thomas (Music director)
Nihal (Music director & Singer)
Smita (Pop singer)
Sonal Chauhan (Actress)
Raghu Kunche (Singer)
Udaya Bhanu (Anchor)
Meher Ramesh (Director)
Rao Ramesh (Actor)
Gopi Mohan (Writer)
Ajay Sastri (Director)
Vara Mullapudi (Director)
Bhumika Chawla (Actress)
Jagapati Babu (Actor)
Vijay C Kumar (Cinematographer)
Sekhar Kammula (Director)
Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
Srinivasa Reddy (Director)
Mickey J Meyer (Music director)
R Narayana Murthy (Producer)
Baba Sehgal (Singer)
Buddhadev Dasgupta (Director)
Tom Alter (Actor)
Kundan Shah (Director)
Priyadarshini Ram (Director)
Selva Raghavan (Director)
Vijaya Bhaskar (Director)
R Ravinder (Art director)
Chandra Sekhar Yeleti (Director)
Mohana Krishna Indraganti (Director)
Dega Deva Kumar Reddy (Producer)
Nidhi Prasad (Director)
Hema Chandra (Singer)
Vijay C Chakravarthy (Cinematographer)
VN Aditya (Director)