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Buoyant Babu

Jagapathi Babu is riding high on the success of "Peddababu," says MANJULA KUMAR


THE ROOM is crowded with young girls pacing up and down with handsets glued to their ears, talking animatedly and you step in gingerly trying to spot the familiar face you are looking for. And you find him, a bit unkempt, hooked on to the phone. He is Jagapathi Babu, eliciting opinions from his fans about his latest hit Peddababu.

And without much ado gets started on Peddababu,the topic for the day. It is a film recommended for everybody in a family, no matter which class of society they belong to, he says. "Peddababu is doing very well and I am happy about it. Women came to theatres to watch the movie, missing their serials on TV. The collections were very good in the first two weeks, which is a record for my films."

Jagapathi Babu has carved a niche for himself in the industry with a brand of his own. An odd Gayam and Anthahpuram apart, he got recognition for his soft sentimental roles in the films like Shubalagnam, Maavichiguru, Allari Premikudu etc. The thought of getting typecast doesn't deter him though. "I am comfortable in such roles and I don't agree that I am being typecast. I have also done roles that are action oriented, but basically I am a bit sentimental and that could be one of the reasons why I am so convincing in these roles," he explains.

Interestingly, Jagapathi Babu bagged the Nandi Best Supporting Actor Award for his `rough and tough' role in Anthahpuram.

For this suave and stylish looking actor, films were not the initial priority. Son the of the veteran producer/director V.B. Rajendra Prasad, Jagapathi Babu was definitely not star-struck and his family never pushed him towards films either. "But I was approached with roles because I am handsome,'' he says with pride and a smile. On a serious note he informs that he used to find girls staring at him and that's when he realised maybe "I am good looking after all and may do well in films. Then I started visiting studios and watched shootings and decided that acting was not that tough as I imagined. I had to hone up my acting skills though". After Gayam with Ramgopal Varma - which was his first big film - Jagapathi Babu waitied for roles to fall into my lap but nothing happened," he confesses. "Ramgopal Varma assured me that nothing happens overnight in this industry and patience is very important. But I did not wait and a series of flops followed. Then I decided I had to be careful in planning my career. Finally it was S.V. Krishna Reddy who showed me the genre in which I would excel and Shubalagnam was just that."

Giving credit to S.V. Krishna Reddy for his success in Shubalagnam, Jagapathi Babu is highly appreciative of Ramgopal Varma. "He is another director from whom you can learn a lot. Even if the film flops, there is something to learn from it"

Jagapathi Babu is generally considered being a reserved person in the industry. Is he? He explains,

"well, I speak to a few journalists, and maybe that is how the comment came (laughs). The reason is that I cannot gel with everybody. I am that kind of person who doesn't even want to say good morning because it is just a formality and I don't like formalities. ''

And he is not concerned about the opinion of others to his attitude. "It is their problem. I am talking at a personal level and not at professional,'' he corrects.

On periodic lulls in his career, he says, "tell me who doesn't experience this in the industry. The ups and downs are common here and I am no exception to the rule. I don't have a single assignment on hand after Peddababu, but still I don't panic. That is the way I am ."

While admitting that the role in Shubalagnam will remain close to his heart, the roles he portrayed in Peddababu and Anthahapuram, he describes as the challenging ones. "Shahrukh who did this role (Anthahpuram) in the Hindi version admitted that I did a better job in Telugu," he says.

Jagapthi Babu was often compared with yesteryear superstar Shoban Babu because of the two-heroine films that they excelled in. Does he enjoy the image? "Yeah, I worked in several movies that had more heroines. It's really tough handling too many women at a time, and after watching myself in reel life I decided that one woman is the right choice for me in real life,'' he laughs as he goes back to his current job — talking to his fans on phone.

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