November 17, 2006
Mohan Goteti is one of the very few knowledgeable and senior film journalists in the Telugu film industry. He has been working as editorial in charge for the film magazine Sitara since the past 17 years. The magazine incidentally has the highest circulation among all Telugu film magazines. Recently he won the Nandi award for the best film critic, for the second time. Idlebrain.com caught up with Mohan Goteti for an interview -
I belong to Ankammapalem in East Godavari District. My schooling and college was done in Ravulapalem. I completed BA (English Literature) and post graduation in public relations. I was a film buff right from childhood and I wanted to become a journalist. I applied for a job in Sitara and Ramoji Rao selected me for the job of reporter. That was 17 years back. I worked in Chennai for three years and then shifted to Hyderabad as the Telugu film industry was migrating from Chennai to Hyderabad. I have been working as editorial-in-charge of Sitara for the past eight years.
What are the changes you find in media in your career?
When I joined, there were only three film magazines – Sitara, Jyothy Chitra and Siva Ranjani. Newspapers did not cover film news regularly. Hence, Telugu movie lovers had to wait for these weeklies to get the latest dope on films and related subjects. Those days film journalist commanded a lot of respect and the film industry needed them for promotional purposes. Journalism was clean and positive. There used to be prolific film journalists like Pasupuleti Rama Rao, Nanda Gopal and Jagadish Babu at that time.
Then the dailies started covering film news on a daily basis. Hence, we had to change our reporting style so that there would be something in our film weekly for those people who also read film news in dailies. We ventured more into analysis on films. After the onslaught of TV channels, film information reaches even remote areas of the state within minutes. The same is true of the Internet, which reports the very moment it happens.
What kind of freedom you get from Ramoji Rao?
We had no obligation to anybody. Ramoji Rao gives us complete freedom. Though he is making films, not once has he said that we should promote films made by his Usha Kiran banner. In fact, he encourages us to be free with criticism if a film is found lacking. There are times when we criticised certain films from Usha Kiron banner in Sitara film reviews. I am proud to be working in Sitara because we get complete creative freedom. Ramoji Rao always tells us to keep the reader in mind while writing articles. He also encourages positive journalism, which encourages the development of the film industry. We never write anything on the personal lives, and scandals of celebrities.
Which articles fetched you the Nandi awards?
I used to write a column called ‘film box’. I got Nandi award for that column in 2001. Last year, I wrote a column called ‘Comment Column’ for which I got this year’s award. In these articles, I have covered the burning issues of Telugu film industry by showing the cause, analysing the problem and suggesting solutions. I am planning to compile all my articles and print them soon. I will also write a book on my personal experiences in the Telugu film industry.
Did you face any embarrassing situations in your career?
I faced very few problems in my career.
- In 1997, there was some issue between Eenadu group and the Telugu film industry. The film fraternity stayed away, banned us, and treated us like untouchables. It was a nightmare. At that time, it was only Superstar Krishna who reacted positively towards us.
- In 1992, we went to cover a shooting in Vijayawada that involved a dance item of Disco Santhi. At that time my wife delivered but we lost our baby boy. I could not do a thing and had to write article on Disco Santhi.
On the other hand, there are memorable moments in my life. I get to meet great film personalities like Chiranjeevi, Krishna, Nagarjuna, Venkatesh etc. They even came to my house for a few functions. I am a huge fan of Krishna since childhood. Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna and Venkatesh are great human beings. JD Chakravarthy is a great friend of mine. One day he called me at midnight and made me speak to Sushmita Sen by telling her that I am his only friend in Hyderabad along with Uttej. The film industry is a world full of thrills.
What was your first experience as a journalist?
I went to Talakona to cover the shooting of Kodama Simham by Chiranjeevi. Chiranjeevi complimented me for my article in Sitara. Then I asked for an interview and he granted me one. I did the maximum number of interviews in my career with Chiranjeevi. I got lot of recognition because I wrote so many articles on the megastar. Many of Chiranjeevi fans call me and interact with me.
Did you miss interviewing any celebrity?
I regret for not getting an opportunity to interview NTR. I covered his films and spoke to him on his sets. But, I am fortunate enough to do many interviews with his contemporary ANR.
Do think the respect a film journalist gets today has lost the respect of the earlier days?
Some people say that but I do not agree. Many of us command respect and love but on the other side, there are some who give the profession a bad name by their unethical behaviour. There is an urgent need for good writers in film journalism. More important they should be educationally qualified ones.
Do you want to convey anything to fellow journalists?
We don’t see too many newcomers who come here with a passion to write. We should not ask ANR how many films he acted in when we are interviewing ANR. We should do our homework before approaching anybody. Celebrities look down on us sometimes because of the way we behave and the silly questions we ask. We should behave like professionals and do our job properly. I admire Pasupuleti Rama Rao of the earlier generation and Anne Ravi of the present generation for their passion and professionalism.
RK (Hyderabad Nawabs)
Dr. Haranath Policherla
Dil Raju 2
Mahesh Babu 3
Sekhar Kammula 2
KM Radha Krishnan
D Rama Naidu
Allari Ravi Babu
KS Rama Rao 2
Mohan Babu 2
KV Ramana IAS
Devi Sri Prasad
AM Ratnam 2
Ram Gopal Varma 3
Mahesh Babu 2
Mohan Babu 1
KS Rama Rao 1
AS Ravi Kumar
Ram Gopal Varma 2
Ram Gopal Varma