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Interview with Srikanth
Date: September 28, 2009, Hyderabad

Srikanth is probably one Telugu film hero to complete 100 films in the recent years. His 100th film Mahatma is all set to release on 2 October. Srikanth is known as one of the finest actors of Telugu film industry and also called as 'ajatha satruvu' in film industry for his positive attitude. caught with Srikanth for an exclusive and exhaustive interview. Here are the excerpts -

I was born in 1968 and brought up in Karnataka (Gangavati near Bellary). My father was a landlord at that time. I studied in Gangavati till 10th class and got attracted towards movies in 10th class. I lied at home and went to Chennai in search of acting opportunities. I stayed there for 5 days and went around all the studios and realised that this is not the way to get into the films. One year of my education got wasted because of my Chennai trip. I returned to Gangavati and decided to complete degree first. I completed my B. Com. from Dharwada university.

Then I joined Madhu film institute and completed one year course in acting in 1990. Usha Kiron movies announced a talent hunt for People's Encounter film and I went to their office with my photo album. They selected me for the role of a naxalite leader. I got good appreciation. My next film was Madhura Nagarilo in which I acted as one among four boys. Then I decided that I will act only as hero. And it led to a gap in my career as nobody was willing to offer me the role of hero. EVV told me at that time that I could become a hero eventually after doing a few villain characters and offered me the role of villain in Seetaratnam Gari Abbai. I liked the way he convincing me and acted as villain 13 movies. It was Tammareddy Bharadwaja who made me hero with his 1/2 movie. Then Aame happened. Taj Mahal was my big break as hero. Then Pelli Sandadi changed my career forever. I settled as hero with that movie. Then I was branded as a family hero and I did lots of family oriented movies. I tried to break away from the family mold and tried to do action movies (Nidhi, Gamyam and Vooriki Monagadu) and those films flopped.

That is when Krishna Vamsi cast me for the role of a fiery cop in Khadgam movie. Lots of the people in the unit are against me doing that role as they felt that I might not do justice. That movie became a hit and my work got appreciated. Thanks to Krishna Vamsi for extracting it from me. I kept on signing all films that came in my way and I didn't capitalise on the success of Khadgam. Then Pellam Voorelithe happened and it became a big blockbuster.

My next fascinating character came in the form of 'Operation Duryodhana' movie. I was little hesitant to do that character as it can only be done by salable and big mass heroes. But Posani Krishna Murali was convinced that I would do justice. I changed my get-up and tonsured my head. I didn't accept any other movies while doing that film.

Tell us about your 100th film Mahatma?
I was planning for this movie for the past two years. Krishna Vamsi accepted to do my 100th film and prepared a potential script. This movie requires a budget of 12 crores. And my market is way below that figure. Hence it is extremely difficult to get a producer who could spend so much money. At one point of time I was mentally prepared to produce Mahatma. That is when my friend from Bangalore CR Manohar chipped in. I knew him from the time when I did a Kannada film titled Ugadi (It is a remake of Telugu film Santosham in which I played the role of Prabhu Deva in Kannada). Manohar comes from a big political family and he produced a couple of Kannada films. He wanted to make an entrance into Telugu film industry with a big bang. And he felt that Mahatma is the right project for him to make a grand entry in Telugu.

What is your role in Mahatma?
I am doing the role of a rowdy called Das who gets attracted to film industry. And then he gets influenced by Mahatma. The entire movie runs on my character.

What are your top five films?

1. Pelli Sandadi
2. Ahwanam
3. Khadgam
4. Operation Duryodhana
5. Pellam Voorelithe

Tell us about your association with Krishna Vamsi?
I knew Krishna Vamsi from my 1/2 movie. He used to come to sets along with his hero friend Chakri. We used to meet in parties on regular basis. He is my favorite director and I like intensity and thought provoking ideas in his movies. There is always a message and conviction in his movies. I trust him as a director and I never ask for the story before accepting any of his movies.

People call you ajatha satruvu in film industry. What is the secret?
I mind my own work. I never speak ill of others. I care for my producers and I am never after money. I bailed out three of my producers by releasing three films on my own. I was not related to film industry and I never had good PR. Hence, by nature I am an introvert and I prefer to stay away from controversies. If there is any misunderstanding, I am the one who goes first to tender apology.

Were there any moments when you became emotional and created bad image for yourself?
Yes. Only bad incident in my life was going to police station along with the gun in an emotional issue. I was very emotional in those two years. I feel bad about it.

What do you think are the reasons for your success as actor?

1. Continuous movies: I never planned my career. I signed all the films that came in my way. I signed the movies even if I knew that they would become flops. My strategy was that even if one film becomes hit out of five films, I will have further offers pouring in. Since my films are made on shoe-string budget, there will not be considerable loss to the producer/distributors when my films flopped. That is the reason why I did 10 films with EVV, 12 films with SV Krishna Reddy and 4 films with D Rama Naidu.

2. Hard work: I have no film background and nobody is going to support me if I am a failure. And hard work is the only thing I am capable of doing. I trusted the hard work.

Why are you not doing any films other than Mahatma?
I am waiting for Mahatma's release. My career will take a major turn if Mahatma becomes a hit. I didn't capitalize on the success of Khadgam. I don't want to miss out that opportunity with Mahatma.

Were there any moments of frustration in your career?
Yes. I has seven continuous flops in 1998 and I almost went into depression. I was feeling guilty and stayed away from the limelight for an year. Bramanandam informed Chiranjeevi about my situation. I got a call from Chiranjeevi. He sat with me and explained the ups and downs in his career. He motivated me. He said that flops are not the end of road and there is always a resounding hit that follows a string of flops. That is when Preyasi Raave released and it become a good hit. From then onwards, I learned to accept success and failure with the same pinch.

You got married to an actress you worked with. Tell us about your love story?
When I was signed for a female oriented subject called 'Aame' by EVV, I expected that some big heroine will be cast against me. I saw Ooha for the first time in Rama Naidu studios. My first impression about her that she is little fat. I was little dejected and disoriented about her for the first two days. After that I started loving her performance. I did two more films with her and I started liking her personally. I had the idea of marrying her and I want to create a good ambiance between my family members and Ooha. I used to make her come to my house and mingle with my parents. Then I told me parents about our love. They asked me to think about it once before making a final decision. I told them that I made my mind up. I waited till Ooha completed her films and we got married.

Tell us about your kids?
I have three kids - Roshan, Medha and Rohan (6-months old). I want them to do whatever they are interested in. I don't want to rub my ideas on them. Roshan is very active in sports. He used to play cricket obsessively once. Now his focus is on Karate. His interests keep changing frequently.

How are your parents feeling now?
My parents sold all their lands by the time we completed our studies. They didn't have any property when I came to Hyderabad. I requested them to give me a couple of years to test my fortune when I joined Madhu film institute. They are very happy after I attained success. I bought all the lands back after I earned money.

Some of the actors made it really big in real estate and of the actors don't' care for money. Which category do you belong?
I am a spend-thrift guy. I never give importance to money. I give away money whenever somebody needs help. My parents keep telling me not to give money away just like that. I feel that if we help people and give the money to the needy, that money will come back to us when we are financially in bad position.

Tell us about acting. Was it easy or difficult for you?
I got claps on the sets that moment I enacted my first scene in my career. May be I was little immature in acting in the beginning of career. Over a period of time, I could see lot of maturity in my work. I never had camera fear. But I am very bad in giving interviews and facing public. My PR is bad.

Tell us about your fans?
Since I do most of family oriented and ladies oriented films, I don't have much of a commercial fan base. But I do surely have lots of silent admirers whose good wishes are always with me.

Who are your close friends in the industry?
Ravi Teja, Krishna Vamsi, Sivaji Raja and Brahmaji are the ones with whom I hangout on regular basis.

What are your other interests?
I love travelling. Whenever I have time, I go to my hometown and roam in lands. I love to go to my school and meet teachers and students. And absolutely love cricket. I used to bunk classes to play cricket. I was the school champion in cricket. I was jack of all sports in my school and college.

Who is your favorite cricketer?
My favorite cricketer is Sachin Tendulkar. My favorite captain is MS Dhoni.

You are successful in all the areas. Is there anything that bothers you as a person?
Yes. I was in Telugu medium till 10th class. Though I was in English medium in +2 and degree, I used to move around with Telugu guys and didn't concentrate on communicating in English. I am finding it as a big drawback now. That is the reason why I stay away from attending functions where I might have to address in English. I stay away from school/college/ATA/TANA functions. I don't communicate with heroines on sets. They might be thinking that I am an introvert and shy guy. They may not be knowing that the real reason was my English communication skills. I wish I learnt English well during my school/college days.

Can you give a message to the visitors of
Think positive.


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