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In pursuit of silence

Life's pendulum swings back and forth between pleasure and pain, sadness and happiness, says the multi-faceted Tanikella Bharani. In conversation with Neeraja Murthy

PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU

Looking beyond the mundane Tanikella Bharani

A few days ago, Tanikella Bharani took off from his schedule not for a film shooting but in pursuit of silence. He spent his time in a jungle just staring at the silver moon peeping out from behind dark rustling trees. “From 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., I was just looking at the moon. I love the way mystery unfolds in the wild,” says the moonlight maverick, who loves forests and the channels Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. Now, he is back to all that is loud but the artiste is hardly complaining. We catch him during a film shooting at Film Nagar and Bharani (as he is popularly known) is all wit and relaxed. “I am a good cooker as I can cook different things,” chuckles Bharani metaphorically referring to the different pursuits he has dedicated his life to.

Bharani's creative journey began with the stage, which he says, helped him look beyond the mundane. “I am proud to say that I started my life in theatre. Earlier, theatre was a monotonous fare with stereotype sets and lengthy dialogues. With our entry, a positive change was witnessed on the stage as we included contemporary themes,” says Bharani, who considers T. Sundaram as his guru and friend in the field of theatre. Theatre was not a money-yielding proposition and Bharani had to look at radio and television for the sake. “I would be unemployed for 15 days and some times I would write a small play for Yuvabharati which would earn me Rs. 35,” he says and adds, “Radio and TV shows were done strictly for money and for creative satisfaction, we would seek solace in theatre.”

The playwright in him found an opportunity with the political turmoil and Emergency in the 70's with his play Gardha Bhand (translated as ‘Egg of a donkey'). A political satire, the play presented a new dawn for the writer in him. He followed it up with other plays and that's when Ralapalli, who was searching for a writer spotted him.

Big screen stint

As a writer, his films appealed to the audience. His big screen stint continued with his character roles. If in the Nagarjuna-starrer Shiva, he was noticed for his convincing portrayal, it was S.V. Krishna Reddy's Yamaleela, where he made audiences laugh like never before. “ Naaku oka bulli chelli, Aa chelli ki jaragali pelli malli malli”… Bharani laughs as he recites the lines from the film. “The part was initially given to another actor but since he could not adjust the dates, I got the role,” he says. However, he couldn't escape being stereotyped. “I played a father in Chitram and I had to play the same father in other films. I tried to change my diction and dialogues so that the characters would look different,” he says.

Bharani likes to call himself a person with ‘middleclass aspirations.' “My father was a railway employee whose weapon was humour. We led ordinary lives and I have retained my father's funny nature,” he smiles. His witty temperament comes to the fore when he talks about choosing Lord Shiva as his favourite God. “Lord Shiva too is a middle-class God who is easily reachable. He is the no-‘hadavidi' God and just needs your prayers and vibhuti and water to do the puja,” he says. Lord Shiva is also present in his mobile in the form of his ringtone Naa Lona Kala Shivudu (sung by Bharani in his music album).

He is an entertainer, pure and simple but it is not always fun and frolic as he goes through a gamut of emotions. “Inherent pathos is always with me but it is only with my close ones that I share it. Life's pendulum swings back and forth between pleasure and pain, sadness and happiness. Difficulties make you a better person and one understands the value of life,” he says philosophically.

A multi-faceted personality, Bharani believes big things in life come in small packages. His short films gave vent to his filmmaking skills. Interestingly, his short films like Blue Cross and The Last Farmer with realistic themes were produced by commercial directors K. Raghavendra Rao and V.V. Vinayak. Another film Sira, produced and directed by him was an acclaimed one. His next projects include Anantharam, a three-minute short film and another symbolic film on Hitler. Till then, he has commercial films to keep him occupied as an artiste. So, how does he find creativity in characters which are monotonous?

“Once actress Rekha was asked about her favourite perfume and she replied it is the smell of a diesel van present at the shooting spot. We are blessed that we get to change our location, meet new people, tell different dialogues and eat a variety of food. Unlike, a salaried employee who spends most of his years in the same chair, we lead a varied life and creativity comes from the newness attached to it.”

One doesn't often meet people who celebrate their wish-fulfilment. Bharani is one. His three wishes of ‘having a big bathroom (“While growing up, I had to share one bathroom with my brothers”), a library for his books and a small garden' have been fulfilled. It's only the Cannes dream waiting to come true. “I want to see a Telugu film being screened at the Cannes Film Festival.”

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