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Interview with Sushanth
Date: March 18, 2009, Hyderabad

Sushanth – grand son of ANR, nephew of Nagarjuna and cousin of Sumanth – made his debut in Telugu films with Kalidasu. His second film Current is due for the release in this summer. caught up with this amicable actor for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -

Educational background:
I went to USA to pursue my graduation after +2 here. I completed my BE in Electronics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During the second year of my BE, I decided to become an actor and told my mother. She wanted me to complete my graduation first. I completed my graduation with a GPA of 3.2, which is quite good. I did my summer internship in a company to decide if I could like the ambiance and my future job if I continued in that field. But the bug of acting did not let me do anything but films.

Film training:
After coming to India, I joined ‘Creating Characters’ acting training school in Mumbai along with my cousin Naga Chaitanya. It was a four month course. I am basically a shy guy and my course at Creating Characters helped me shed my inhibitions and face the camera without any fear. They also taught me that acting could never me imparted by anybody. Acting has to come from within. The training institutes can only help in tuning up whatever talent we have. I became confident about acting after completing the course. They also asked me to dream more and fantasize as it required to become successful in Indian films because most of the characters in Indian films are hyper and unnatural. They discouraged method acting and natural acting.

Did you have any colleagues who entered films other than Naga Chaitanya?
It was just the 2nd year of that institute when we joined the course. Recently I saw 7 Up advertisement in which one of my classmates (Raj) acted. I felt really happy.

Did you use to watch Telugu movies in USA?
Yes. Chicago was a two-hour drive from our university. I used to watch Telugu films frequently in Des Plaines Theater in Chicago. It was lot of fun watching Telugu films.

You have an illustrious family background. Is it tough or easy for you as an actor?
My background helped me to get in films. But the same background also gives you an excess baggage called expectations. People don’t expect you to start from the zero level. They want you to perform at higher level. If you look at the kids of celebrities, some of them made it really huge and some of them faded away into oblivion. It shows that only the people will abundant talent will survive in the industry.

What are your readings on senior actors from your family?

ANR: He is guiding force for me not only in films, but also in real life. He started from zero level and struggled a lot not only in films, but also in real life. None of us can reach him in our lifetime. I am fortunate to be in his family. He epitomizes hard work and discipline.

Nagarjuna: Being the son of legend ANR, audience had lots of expectations on him when he made his debut. He took a while to stand on his feet. He then introduced a new style to Telugu cinema industry. He stayed away from routine films and experimented with new directors and gave massive hits. He has gone into Hindi cinema as well and attained something which none of the other Telugu film stars have done. His portrayal of Annamayya and Sriramadasu earned him the praise from none other than ANR himself.

Sumanth: I always look up to him. He is greatly influenced by uncle Nagarjuna. He grew up in grandfather ANR’s house. Sumanth is doing films he is comfortable at.

With such illustrious actors from your family, don’t you have cushion of being popular even before you got introduced as an actor?
My grandfather ANR always tells me that he had time with him and there was margin for error in those days. But it is a fast generation now. And if I do any mistake now, people won’t forgive. Hence I have to be very careful with what I do. Another notable aspect is that the span of heroes in the present generation is less compared to earlier generations.

Did you do an introspection of your performance in Kalidasu? Any findings?
I have done well in fights and dances. I did reasonably well in emotional scenes. On the flip side, I need to improve on my expressions and dialogue modulation.

How different is Kalidasu character compared to Current character?
My character in Current film is bubbly and hyper. I improved a lot regarding looks and performance with Current film.

What do you think is your USP (Unique Selling Point) as an actor?
Masses and kids like Kalidasu film. Current film will be liked by youth and girls. I don’t want to cater to any niche segment. I don’t want to restrain myself to particular genre. I love to be an all-rounder who is fit to do any kind of films.

Why are you choosing new directors for your films? Why can’t you go for big and successful directors?
Uncle Nagarjuna got his best films with new directors. I want to follow him in script selection. I will do films with big directors when I get opportunity.

What are your favorite films among Nagarjuna’s hits?
Shiva, Manmadhudu, Ninne Pelladatha and Hello Brother.

If you were to remake any of Nagarjuna’s film, which one would you go for?
I will not remake any of uncle’s films because I fear I might end up spoiling them. However, I would love to do the remake of Hello Brother.

Tell us about your fitness and diet?
I am not good at food control. But my diet habits are being compensated because of my gym activity, dance classes and martial arts practice.

What is your dream?
My dream was to become an actor. It is already is accomplished. Right now, I want to be successful in my profession.

What kind of help did you get from your mother regarding your career selection?
I am emotionally dependent on her. She is the bridge between me and ANR. She supported me right from the beginning. She is more like a friend than a mother to me. At the same time she is very strict when it comes to discipline.

Chintalapudi Srinivas produced both of your films?
Chitalapudi Srinivas has lots of influence on me. He is also a journalist and I learnt a lot from him regarding the societal aspect.

Can you read Telugu?
I can read and write Telugu. Telugu was my first language in school and I used to get excellent marks in Telugu subject.

What are your hobbies?
I love sports. Especially cricket, basket ball, foot ball and tennis. We had a cricket playing scene in Current film. I played with zonal players in that scene and pulled it off with good stroke play.

Why the title Current for your film?
People might think that Current is a high voltage action drama. But the Current in our film has two reasons. The first reason is that current denotes the electricity that flows between two lovers. The second reason is that current mean present sense (neither past nor future).

Do you want to say anything to the visitors of
I had been an ardent follower of since my college days in USA. Lots of people might be thinking about following their heart. I followed my heart and doing what I really wanted to do. I advice them to take a decision cautiously as there is a risk factor involved in following one’s dream.

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