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Interview with Lawrence by Jeevi
Date: 16th January 2006

Lawrence’s latest film Style is playing well with houseful collections and positive mouth talk. met with Lawrence who broke the ‘second-film-flop’ jinx, for a detailed interview about Style and his future plans at Prasad Labs. Here are the excerpts -

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Where did the story idea for Style?
I had brain tumor when I was kid. I had gone through lots of struggles after surgery. My uncles and elders asked me to do some work for livelihood. But my mother told me that I should not leave the art of dance. That one dialogue is the inspiration for making this film. My mother is the reason behind what I am today.

In the titles of the film I have shown the disabled people dancing with merry. If a disabled person can make an attempt to dance, why cant we try it as all of us are equipped with good physical and mental health. I want to tell through this film that everybody has talent and one need to recognize which field we are talented in.

You have succeeded as an actor with this film. How do you feel about it?
It was TVD Prasad who forced me to act as hero in Speed Dancer. That film was a flop and people insulted me on the face after that. I took it as a challenge. I acted in 2 Tamil films as hero and those films were also flopped. I introduced a Tamil director to the producer and they made a film with me as hero in Tamil. After the release, that director gave a statement that the film would have become a hit if I were not the hero. My mother cried after reading that statement. I challenged that director that I would become the hero of a hit film soon and would invite him to the 100 days function. Insults like these ignite fire in me. I would like to thank him for insulting me. I proved myself with Style film. I strongly feel that script need to be good, not the hero. One director can make ten heroes, But one hero cannot make 10 directors.

People told me that Tamil audiences do accept men with dark complexion. But Telugu audience wont accept black skinned guys. With Style I proved those critics wrong.

How did Style film materialize?
I prepared this script with me as hero. But as I started consolidating the script, I realized that the budget is going to be very high. Then I thought that I could cast any established hero in the lead role so that the budget could be defended. When I narrated this script to Lagadapati Sridhar, he immediately said that I should act as hero. Even when film was being made, lots of people asked Lagadapati Sridhar about why he is spending so much money on me. I would like to thank Sridhar for giving me this opportunity and standing by me throughout the period of filmmaking.

How did you manage the climax casting coup (Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna)?
There is a scene in the film in which I am hit by bullets. I need two strongmen to rescue me. I zeroed on Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna. When I asked Nagarjuna to do that cameo, he assured me that he would do anything for me and all I had to do for him is to tell him dates so that he can schedule. It was a very difficult task for me to ask Chiranjeevi dates. I was so afraid that I could not meet him, hence I called him up and told the situation. He listened to the script and said that he would do it.

What about other casting?
I worked as group dancer under Prabhu Deva in the beginning of my career. He is my guru and I was afraid of asking for his dates. He kindly accepted the role. Because of Prabhu Deva’s presence we managed such good openings. Raja liked this script so much that he did not mind doing such a small role. Suman and Bhanu Chandar also acted in small roles.

Jaya Sudha initially told me that she would not do the film. Later on she accepted it after listening to script. After watching the film she proudly said that she would have regretted her decision if she rejected the role.

Mass and Style are English titles and your future film Power too is an English one. Why are you keeping English titles to your films?
Nagarjuna is regarded as class hero. I wanted to cash on it by projecting Nagarjuna as mass hero with the title ‘Mass’.

I always feel that style should be there in our work, but not in our appearance. Beauty is attached to mental personality, but not to the physical looks. That is what I wanted to capture with Style film. For example, Mike Tyson looks ugly when he walks on the street, but is very beautiful when he is in boxing ring.

It was not a sentiment or a deliberate attempt to keep English titles. It was just a coincidence.

What are your favorite scenes in Style?

1. Love failure episode: The scene in which I talk about goal comparing it to love when I realize that Charmme does not love me. I say that love is very small compared to your goal.

2. Prabhu Deva’s suicide attempt: When Prabhu Deva attempts suicide for losing legs, Kamalinee gives him words of courage by giving examples of how some disabled people gave outstanding contributions to the society.

3. Mother death scene.

What are the scenes that are enjoyed by the frontbenchers?

1. Drunkard fight scene.

2. Remix dance of Roop Tera Mastana

3. Dharmavarapu Subramanyam’s comedy

4. 4-legged dance

Style was supposed to release for Dasara 2005, but delayed to January 2006. What’s the reason for delay?
We experimented with new concept in Style film. It takes time. For Mass film, I had a hero like Nagarjuna who can carry the film on his shoulders. But for Style, there is no hero. Story should be novel and treatment should be delicate. It needs lot of time for postproduction work. I am a technician and I know technicians give best output when they are given more time.

Music of the film is just ok when you listen on the audio. And looks impressive on screen with visuals. Don’t you think a dance-based film like Style should have better music?
Music of the film should go fine along with the narration of the film. He balanced the background music and songs of the film so well. All the songs in this film flow with narration and there is no duet. I think this is the right music for this kind of film.

I would like to tell you that I introduced a dancer called Madhu in my group as lyricist for Style. He penned style title song and Chiru Cheyyeste songs.

You used Super35 camera for this film. What are the advantages?
We used Super35 for the entire film except for a couple of shots. It gives you wider and broader feel. Span is more. Big sets and crowds appear more fascinating when canned with Super35. It works really good for big heroes and it gives excellent visual for heroism elevation scenes. There is great amount of sharpness in the output.

Will you still continue as choreographer?
Choreography is like mother. Who would ignore mother? I will continue my work as choreographer. I am getting offers now as director as well as actor. If the script is good and I am apt for the subject, I will do films as hero. I would continue directing films. My life ambition is to direct Chiranjeevi. I very much eager to direct another film for Nagarjuna who gave me life as director.

Both your films Style and Mass have strong mother sentiment?
Mother sentiment is the mother of all sentiments. I make sure that there is mother sentiment in all my films.

You have Charmme and Kamalinee in Style. But both of them have no dance in songs. What is the reason?
For Style, subject is the hero. And the subject does not demand heroines’ dance.

What precautions did you take as a director for Style in order to create your character?
People can watch me if I see dance, comedy and sentiment. I know that heroism is not my strength. That is the reason why I make my buddy tap me on my head and insult me in the first scene itself to create an impression that I am not a hero of heroism. People accepted me because I underplayed my character. When a powerful fight is needed, I took help of Nagarjuna and Chiranjeevi during the last reel of the film.

You made Hyderabad your home after coming from Chennai. How do you feel about it?
I got insulted in Tamil. I got 3 flops in Tamil as hero. Telugu people always encouraged me. AP is my lucky place.

What compliments did you get for Style?

1. Chiranjeevi appreciated me by saying that I made an inspiring film.

2. Nagarjuna gave an SMS to me by saying that Style is a hit film.

3. MS Raju complimented me by saying Style has good screenplay. His daughter liked it so much that she wanted to watch it for the second time.

4. Rajnikant phoned me and said that Style is going to be a big hit.

Tell us about your future projects?
Before taking up any projects, I need to attend to unfinished business and some social service. I am building a temple for my influential deity Raghavendra Swamy in Ambattoor in Chennai. The work is halfway through. I will finish that work first. I am also going to start free dance classes for the students of Devnar School for Blind. I want to keep my mind free for next 3 months. After that I will think about my next film.

Click here for another interview of Lawrence taken 3 years back.

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Rasool Ellore (Cinematographer & Director)
Raju Sundaram (Choreographer)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh (Editor)
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)
Shashank (Hero)
Gangaraju Gunnam (Producer)
Meghana Naidu (Heroine)
Venkatesh (Hero)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
Deepak (Hero)
Siddardh (Hero)
MS Raju (Producer)
Chiranjeevi (Hero)


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