Chiranjeevi - Man of the masses
Megastar Chiranjeevi is undoubtedly the superstar from South. He is one of those stars who commend good following in all the south Indian languages. He is even past the point where the movie matters any more. His name itself will carry the movie to the double figures of crores in collections. He is redirecting the huge following he has into social service in the name of Chiranjeevi Charitable Trust.
Megastar Chiranjeevi definitely has a good following with the Tamil audience too. Some of his dubbed films are super hits. He even appeared in guest role in one of Rajani Kanth's movie (Tamil Attaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu made as Maa Pillai). A leading Tamil magazine Vikatan recently interviewed Megastar Chiranjeevi and a few excerpts are provided here.
"Chennai is a place which holds a special significance in my life. Foundation for becoming a Megastar is laid here itself. My dad
wanted me to get into a Government job. I had a different ambition - getting into films. I used to attend evening college. To realize my dream, I joined film institute in Cheanni. I still remember those days of T Nagar mess, Sapphire theater, where I used to watch old films.", says Chiranjeevi. He continues - "I would have thought of doing Tamil films too. But the affection of Telugu audience keeps me overwhelming. They gave me a place which I never even dreamt of. However, I will cherish my relation with Chennai forever. In fact, my wife is from Chennai. She is a Telugu girl but born and brought up in Chennai.".
How come you are so young even now?
First question itself is soothing. Thank you for saying I am young. Rajani and Kamal are my seniors. They look very young. So there is nothing wrong if I am looking young (laughs). Chandramukhi did great business in Andhra. Kamal is doing 10 getups in his next film. It is very interesting to know that. When you don't envy others and are able to appreciate their talent truly, you can stay young.
I have to do 5 dances and 6 fights in each movie. So I got to be fit. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. According to me beauty is in every one's heart.
You are always delivering hits.
I could say something to endorse it but then it won't be completely true. No one can keep winning or losing. In life you will face both. I did the remake of Ramana in Telugu and it became 10 times big a hit than the original. Shankar Dada MBBS, another remake, is a super duper hit. There were a string of hits in recent times. Few years ago, it was the same case.. There were a string of hits. In between, I made a movie with so much effort. We took so much attention from frame to frame in that film and my fans rejected it. So hits and flops are inevitable and it happens in everyone's life.
Why are you not doing any character-oriented films and sticking to regular commercial films?
You are asking me why I have never done or am not doing gracious flops (laughs). Movies are business too. If I am the only one effected by a movie failure, I will surely take risks. But there are hundreds who depend on one single film. It is a fact that the success or failure will effect lot of such folks. I made a beautiful film Rudraveena. I would rate this movie as my number one movie, if I have to list my best films. It got me good name and awards but the film flopped. When my fans see me on the screen, they want to be excited and elated. There is an image associated with the star stature. Fans cannot accept their trust being broken. For example, in Ramana, Vijayakanth will die at the end. But we know that it won't work for me in Telugu. So we changed the climax. Even knowning such implications, I still took some risks. But I cannot keep doing that.
Amitabh Bachchan is doing that in Hindi. He has star image.
I will be honest here. Amitabh had good luck in that way. I guess it happened even without his knowledge. He was doing usual commercial movies. He was at the peak of his career. ABCL happened and then it got bankrupt. Then Kaun Banega Crorepati came his way and it clicked well. His career took an U-turn again with a different flavour. He is doing all variety films like Sarkar, Black etc. But he did not plan on these. It could happen to any one. Take Rajani for example. He cannot really get out of his image and take risks. Now, whole film industry is talking about the business of Sivaji.
When are you launching yourself into politics?
I love movies. I want to do good movies and be here. This is where I feel at home. I am not interested in coming to politics. I want to do social service and there is a good reason behind it.
There were days when I worked for 18 hours. I was totally immersed in my world when this sudden enlightenment struck me. See all these Mother Theresa pictures. She is my enlightenment. I look up on her. Few years ago, I was going through my fans letters. One fan referred to me as God and wrote it in blood. I was very much moved. After a few more letters, I noticed that a fan sent me a book. It is the book about Mother Theresa. That book described what happened in Mother Theresa's life. One of those incidents really moved me. When Mother Theresa was raising funds for the orphanage in Calcutta, one reckless guy spit in her hand when she asked him for money. She peacefully told him that she would keep the spit for herself but would appreciate any money for orphanage. Such is her patience and perseverance.
Few days later, I read in daily news that 2 persons died due to lack of blood. There are 100 crores of population in India. We are like brothers to each other. 2 of us died since they did not get blood.
Those are the two incidents that got me into serious thinking. I requested my fans to come out and donate blood. To promote it further, I offered to take pictures with them if they donated blood. I usually go for 200 pictures a week with blood donors.
We have five offices in Andhra Pradesh. I requested my fans to register with these offices with the contact information and blood type. That way, if there is urgency, we can call them and they could help us.
All of this started with one emotional thought. Now this has become a huge organization. At all my audio functions, I spend about 5 minutes talking about the donations. A slide will be shown at all my film screenings. I spend from my own pocket for all this. Now we constructed a a huge building dedicated to blood research. It is ready to be inaugurated. We requested president Adbul Kalam to inaugurate it.
Have you ever donated blood?
I believe in the principle that one should implement it before preaching. I donate blood thrice an year. I donated my eyes too.
Lakhs of my fans donated blood and thousands have donated eyes. That way, I feel that I am the luckiest star on earth to have such fans. I hear sometimes people say that my fame is all God's gift but I would say it is all because of my fans.
Is there any other star who tried following your path?
I am inspired by the doings of Mother Theresa but she did not do that to influence me. I hope you got the point. I am doing it for my satisfaction.
You said you are spending crores for this promotion from your pocket?
I used to contribute a part of my earnings initially. As the organization grew, the requirements increased. I had a policy of not doing ad films. I relaxed the policy and did selective ads. The income from the ads goes to the charitable trust. One don't have to be in politics to do good things.
Tell us about your family!
My strength is my wife Surekha. Susmita, first daughter, completed degree in fashion technology. She is my costume designer. Ramcharan Teja is going to college. His ambition is set towards movies. He is preparing himself. Srija is doing intermediate. She is very much into sports.
Is it true that Shankar is directing your son for his first film?
Ramcharan will come into films. That is for fact. But who is going to direct him for the first film, I dont know. But if what you said turns out true, I will be really happy as his dad. If a person who is directing Rajani's film directs my son, it will be a big plus for him. If my son has the stars for it, it will happen.
We thank Palani, who took time in sending us the translated version. Palani says that he is a regular visitor of TotalTollywood and likes the efforts we put up for this website. He feels this is his contribution to us. Thank you, Palani.
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