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Back to the movie world

Y. SUNITA CHOWDHARY

The actor who crafted a niche for himself is back behind the camera.



In focus U.V. Krishnam Raju.

Krishnam Raju made his debut when the Telugu film industry was openly derisive of new actors and aspirations. With a huge appetite for work, fierce motivation, disciplined work… he won effusive admiration from his colleagues. He had brawn, phys ique and eyes that none in the industry could boast of. With an eclectic mix of films in his kitty, the actor balanced his career perfectly before he gave it up for politics. Now the actor at 66, is in the news for more than one reason. He’s producing serials, there is a fresh foray into mainstream cinema and he’s also giving shape to a charitable organisation in memory of his father.

The actor is in a relaxed mood on a Sunday evening answering phone calls while his pretty daughters scream for his attention. He says, “The youngest one is already talking of ozone layer, the current generation surprises me.” He has lost weight and gives the credit of his disciplined lifestyle to Ramdev’s yogasanas and he is into multi-tasking but does delegate certain responsibilities to his trusted people. Raja Bahadur is a friend, neighbour, brother-in-law to Krishnam Raju and is currently taking care of Gopikrishna Granites, the actor’s Company. That he shared an emotional bond would be an understatement because Raja Bahadur compelled the actor to marry again after his sister (Krishnam Raju’s first wife) passed away in a car accident in 1995. Says Raja Bahadur, “We grew up together and he was so dependent on my sister and I couldn’t see him being shattered. There was no choice I wanted to see him happy, someone had to fill the void and now he has a reason to live.” Krishnam Raju has three daughters - Sai Praseedha10, Sai Prakeerti 12 and Sai Pradeepti 8. He also has an adopted daughter Sai Prashanti who is married and has a child.”

Comedian and Producer Saradhi who has known the actor for 45 years says, “It might be an exaggeration but that’s true, Lord Rama had 16 good qualities and Krishnam Raju has nine of them. He’s large hearted and even loves his enemies.” Visibly embarrassed by all the compliments, the actor turns to trivia. He opines that the audiences have had enough of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law kind of stories on the television and wants to bring in soaps that impart family values and teaches the importance of inter-personal relationships, our samskriti and sampradayam. He has also resolved to make five small budget films a year with young talented actors and all of them will be based on a burning topic, will have something idealistic to carry home.

Krishnam Raju had produced around 16 films all blockbusters but couldn’t make profits on them but with the advent of slab system, Bobbili Brahmanna set the cash registers ringing. “Imagine if Bobbili Brahmanna were to be made today, I’m sure it would have collected Rs. 40 crores,” smiles the actor. He comments approvingly on the two film per year schedule of the heroes, “Those days we would finish the film in 30 to 40 days and complete about six to eight films per year. But the scene is different today, artistes are not able to work for more than two films per year. We would do everything in a hurry, had no time for personal life and also no fair idea about investments but I guess my nephew Prabhas, and the boys these days have everything at their disposal, all they need to do is pick the right kind of films without being branded. A film can be successful without the formula, haven’t I done Mana Voori Pandavalu, Bhakta Kannappa? Amardeepam had no fights at all.” As he signs off the actor recollects the most memorable moment in his life, ‘becoming a Central Minister. The position offered me a chance to serve the society and I’m more than satisfied with life.”

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