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Interview with Santhi Chandra
Date: October 16, 2008, Hyderabad
santhi chandra

Santhi Chandra, who debuted with a romantic character in Charmme’s blockbuster Mantra, has turned one of the producers for Sekhar Suri’s film Three, releasing tomorrow. Gripped with high-voltage passion for films since his childhood, he was excited to be working as one among the male leads in Three. Having worked in the Indian Navy and currently running a private security agency, he maintained the fit qualities and holds the potential to do the adventurous roles too. However, he doesn’t want to get branded to any particular mold. Santhi Chandra finds Tollywood a disciplined industry and hopes for a long-lasting association with it. In an exclusive interview to Idlebrain, he speaks about the making of Three, his priorities as a producer and his dream to become a good actor.

I am born in Krishna district. I moved to my uncle’s place Vizag to study during the 4th standard. I lost my father at an early age and continued my stay there. I was also trained in poultry, diary and agriculture while doing studies. I applied for the Indian Navy after my intermediate. I completed my graduation in Osmania University while serving the Indian Navy. I got married and joined a security firm OPDSS as one of the directors. OPDSS belongs to my father-in-law who is also an ex-naval officer. OPDSS provides security to various public and private industries in South India. I am an expert at industrial security and private investigation.

How did you enter films?
I have always wanted to become an actor since childhood. My colleagues in Navy used to say that I could become an actor because I have got nice height and a photogenic face. It all changed when Chiranjeevi visited Vizag to unveil the statue of Allu Ramalingaiah. I was providing security to him and assigned 200 volunteers for that operation. All my well-wishers happened to see me on TV and news media along with Chiranjeevi. They all encouraged me by saying that I could become an actor. That event triggered my interest.

When I discussed the same with Phaniraj – my brother-n-law – he referred me to the producers of Mantra. They offered me the romantic role of Kausha's husband in that film. It is like the second hero of Mantra.

We planned to produce a film. I and Phaniraj started together to produce a film with Sekhar Suri. Sekhar Suri is impressed with me and asked me to do one of the main leads in Three film. After getting the consent, I joined Vizag Satyanand and learnt about acting in six months. We commenced the shoot after I completed acting course. The director wanted to shoot the film in Ooty. But we shot the film in Vizag, Araku and Bhimili because I had to simultaneously look after the OPDSS operations in that area.

What is the story of Three?
Story is the highlight of the film. This film is about three men in the life of a woman and how they are connected to each other.

Tell us about your character?
I am doing the role of an angry young man who appears strange. He is a fearless guy with fire in him, but he can't express. Audiences don't relate to this character. It is a compact and small role, but a vital one. In spite of being one of the producers, I did not ask for any extra favors as an actor. Footage of my role is small compared to Rishi and Rajiv Kanakala.

You are doing thrillers like Mantra and Three. Don't you get branded?
My next film will not be a thriller. I don't want to get branded to this genre. But in my next venture I would like to do multi-heroes projects instead of solo hero films.

What do you think is your strength as an actor?
I developed my own style and never imitated anybody. I can bring seriousness into my character very quickly and convincingly. I am good at action sequences because of my naval background and present work of industrial security. Stunt masters Ram and Lakshman are impressed with my action capabilities. I think there is some rage and fire in me and it can be shown on the screen if I get the required role.

Did Sekhar Suri go over budget?
Yes. Sekhar Suri is undoubtedly a good director. He has an amazing passion about the film he is making. But he should also keep a tab on budget in order to become an economical director. The budget of the film was overshot by 30%.

Are you upset about the budget?
No. I am happy that it went to the pockets of workers. Most of the film was shot during night times and we had to pay 3 times more that what they usually charge during day time. Around 150 families worked for 3 film and I am happy that they got benefitted of the film. I feel that it takes at least 3 crores to make a quality film.

How are you releasing the film?
I am releasing Three through big distribution houses. Dil Raju is releasing Three in Nizam and Vizag. Roop Films is releasing in Ceded. Geeta film distributors are releasing it in East and West. I am releasing directly in Guntur and Krishna. We are releasing it with 35 prints in India and 4 prints in USA. Tolly 2 Holly is releasing it in USA. I am planning to dub it in Tamil very soon.

What are going to be the highlights of Three?
Story and script will get the top priority. And technical values are excellent. And the postproduction work is very good.

As a first time producer, what is your take on Telugu film industry?
Generally there is a bad opinion about Telugu film industry outside. But I realized that Telugu film industry is disciplined and everybody is good. There could be little problems in film industry and people tend to highlight them.

What is the runtime of the movie?
The runtime is 2.20 hours. We shot the film in 80 working days. We exposed over 1 lac feet of negative.

Tell us about the balloon lights?
We used balloon lights for the first time in Telugu film industry. We used them for 20 days and it cost us around 20 lac rupees extra. But it saved lot of time and effort as it would take other lights around 2 and half hours and 8 people to fix. It is easy to transport balloon lights.

What about the wooden villa set?
We constructed a huge wooden villa set using no iron (except for nails). We needed 20 truckloads of wood. It cost us 20 lacs to build that set. When we wanted to sell, a local guy offered me Rs. 40,000. I spent a lac to dismantle and transport that set to Vizag. Everybody laughed at me for doing it. Then I constructed security kiosks and sold those kiosks for 12 lacs to make a nice business model around it.

What is your expectation on the overseas run of the film?
We made a film with huge technical standards and a nice story line. The NRIs who are used to Hollywood films would have definite liking for a well-made film of this genre. I am positive that Three film will make it big in overseas. And I request everybody to watch our film and give us your valuable feedback!

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