Dec 10, 2012

How do you think I married Twinkle?

-- Manju Latha Kalanidhi

Khiladi Kumar Akshay and 100 crore heroine Asin were in Hyderabad on Tuesday for the promotion of their new movie ‘Khiladi 786’

His ‘Khiladi’ tag – ‘Main Anari Tu Khiladi’ in 1992 was my first big hit and media gave me the tag of ‘Khiladi Kumar’. Of course, then Asin must have been in ‘Class I’. Now she has grown up to be my co-star. Luckily, Khiladi means a player and that is what I am – a sportive player. Most of my other movies also, by coincidence, had Khiladi in the title – ‘Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi’, ‘Khiladi 420’ and now the latest as well. I enjoy being known by that tag. 

About the 100 crore club : Yes, all of us are under the pressure to hit the magic figure. Even making Rs 99 crore doesn’t seem to work. Nahi chalega says the media. I have the pressure of the film on me until Monday. After that I move on and go about signing my next movie.

About being a prankster on and offscreen: I love pulling other’s legs, especially if it is a leggy lass like Asin. One day after the shoot of ‘Khiladi 786’, we went to a restaurant for dinner. I sneaked in a lot of stuff like butter, sugar packets, a handful of knives and forks into Asin’s bag. Then I even told the waiter to che ckher bag as I suspected she was pilfering stuff. One must have seen Asin’s face. It was hilarious. She kept on saying she hasn’t picked up any of it. 

About working with south directors: I’ve worked in 120 movies till now and nearly half are with south directors. It is nice to work with them because they wrap films fast, know their job well and of course have given me hits. I get to learn a lot from them. 
About watching Telugu movies: I watch them whenever I have to work in a remake!

About working in multiple movies in a year: It is very easy to work in at least four films a year. Typically, a movie does not take more than 60 days. So even if I give myself a 30-day break, it is possible for an actor to work on at least three movies a year. So no big deal if I work in many movies a year.

About his lean, mean look: I have been maintaining my weight for the last 28 years. That is the reason, as most of the media persons here said, I look young and fit. 

About his first love cooking: Yes, I love cooking. I was a chef in Thailand and cooked samosa, chole bature, jalebi etc. How do you think Twinkle married me? I cooked for her and she fell head over heels with me. 

Asin on why she is not doing Telugu movies
Her role in the movie: I play Indu Tendulkar, a Mahrastrian girl who is a rough and tough girl. She can pack in a punch and I am the sister of Mithunda in the movie. 

About returning to Tollywood: I am evolving with each movie and it is important to do different and unique roles every time. What is the point in doing same kind of roles and boring the public and finally being called a flop star? I am looking forward to a dhamaka movie in Telugu. I hope someone casts me soon. I will never forget that ‘Amma Nanna Tamil Ammayi’ was the movie that gave me a break in movies.

It’s KICK, not KISS

The Hans India November 2012
TV shows no longer believe in KISS – Keep It Simple and Sweet. Instead it is KICK – Keep It Complicated and Knotty.

Serial makers conveniently have started creating rifts between happy 
couples, split the children apart, introduced the ‘other man’ or ‘other woman’ and filled in the crevices with lots of spice and masala.

Manju Latha Kalanidhi

Simple and basic are no longer in vogue. Even on telly, the in-thing is to have it complex and advanced. Not surprisingly, a happily married couple with one or two children going about their lives, celebrating festivals, weekend outings, annual vacations is considered boring. 

So serial makers conveniently have started creating rifts between happy couples, split the children apart, introduced the ‘other man’ or ‘other woman’ and filled in the crevices with lots of spice and masala. So the topper serials like Bade Achche Lagte Hain (Sony 10.30 pm) and Kuch Toh Log Kahenge (Sony 11 am) have all complicated matters for that extra edge. Even before Priya and her husband Ram cosy up for their big family festival, we see them parting ways, little Pihu being torn between parents. 

Ditto with Kya Hua Terra Wada (Sony 10 pm) with super family dynamics – couple split, husband has his own family; wife has her own family; kids move around with new papa and new momma. The other man and woman crossing paths, ex-flames and what nots. Perhaps it is time to have a simple, sweet family drama like Wagle Ki Duniya. Remember that one about a middleclass man, his wife and his two kids. The episodes were a mere reflection of our everyday lives. 

Hunt for Kingfisher Model on NDTV Good Times (11 pm) takes the complexities to another plane altogether. We have no idea why models are made to run a mile, walk on a Burma bridge, snake through a cylinder, sneak through a narrow passageway. In short, the girls run through a muddy obstacle course, swing on ropes and climb ropes to ultimately pose for the photographer’s camera. 

Well, if the idea is to see how fit they are or how sportive they are, it would have made sense. After the race, the contestants are expected to sleep supine, bovine, prone or whatever position possible on a trawler net and actually pose seductively for a photo shoot. The fashion photographer even has the gall to tell the model, who is precariously balancing herself on the net to pout and ‘bring on the feel.’ 

Then it gets tougher. In the second task of the week, the girls take on the guise of a mermaid maiden and pose under a waterfall in a manmade fin. We knew of beauty contests where they are pitted against each other for their physical beauty, vital statistics, their IQ, special talent, culinary skills etc. This time around, their ‘boot camp’ survival instincts are tested. Talk of complicating matters!

As exciting and jeeta jaagta like Big Boss reality show

For some reason being able to blog seems to be my ultimate measure for success. It means you have the time, opportunity, opinion and the writing ability too. However, it always bothers me - what if my blog becomes so popular that my life starts becoming like a jeeta jaagta Big Boss reality show. What if random strangers are peeking into my life and making random judgements about me. Do u think anyone wud be interested in reading abt my life. Two days from now is supposed to be the Doomsday. So I may as well delurk for a day and put my work up on to the world. Wud even one soul bother to put up a post? Do people read my posts at all? Maybe they'll think I am jobless - Hey but then I only put the things I already got published.. so i am not so vela i guess. I can't believe that I am just randomly typing things away without as much as giving it a second look.. Will my blog become like one of those unputdownable, page-turner blogs like the kind of words associated with bestsellers these days.. Let me see how many hits I get.. How  many ppl comment and how many actually have read it. That alone will decide whether this blog needs resurrection... HERE WE GO FOLKS>>>>>

Apr 3, 2012

Ten years, ten flops and one ton of toil


Edida: The Master of Classics

Published in The Hans India on March 25, 2012

“Not winning the Dadasaheb Phalke Award does not make a difference to me as I have always got more than I had bargained for. My productions have become the biggest grossers of Telugu industry, have won critic’s appreciation and remain etched in people’s hearts. What more can I ask for?” Edida Nageshwara Rao, the man behind masterpieces like ‘Sankarabharanam’ and ‘Sagara Sangamam’ tells Manju Latha Kalanidhi

Edida: The Master of Classics

“Not winning the Dadasaheb Phalke Award does not make a difference to me as I have always got more than I had bargained for. My productions have become the biggest grossers of Telugu industry, have won critic’s appreciation and remain etched in people’s hearts. What more can I ask for?” says Edida Nageshwara Rao, the man behind masterpieces like ‘Sankarabharanam’ and ‘Sagara Sangamam’

It was a monsoon evening in 1980 in Rome. The scene was at the open-air amphitheatre in the historic city where his production ‘Sankarabharanam’ was being screened for an international audience at a film festival. The movie had almost reached its climax and 18 minutes of the movie was left when there was a heavy downpour.

The 1,200-plus audience’s knee-jerk reaction was to stand up and look for a shelter. Surprisingly, not one moved. They stood spellbound in their seats in perfect silence with only the sound of the rain and the song in the movie dominating the ambience. The movie ended. A wave of applause and claps went up to a deafening crescendo. “After having received that standing ovation from an international audience who did not know a word of Telugu, I think there is nothing more I can ask for,” says Edida Nageshwara Rao, 78, as he recalls about his first blockbuster production directed by Kalatapaswi K Vishwanath.

His nomination for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award has brought him back into the news (veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee won it for 2011) and not winning it hardly matters to him. Just being nominated with the likes of actor Pran is enough to make him happy, he says. His production house Poornodaya Creations has made classics which not only turned out to be blockbusters but also bagged awards from across the world. The filmography itself is impressive - ‘Sankarabharanam’ (1979), ‘Sagara Sangamam’ (1983), ‘Swathi Muthyam’ (1985), ‘Swayamkrushi’ (1987), ‘Sitaara’ (1983), ‘Seethakoka Chiluka’ (1981). Each of the movies invariably dealt with artistes, their struggles, social issues etc.

His house in Film Nagar, Hyderabad, is also named as ‘Sankarabharanam’. The rangolis on the walls speak of his taste. The drawing room is spartan with no LCDs or Home Theatres. His wife Jayalakhsmi personally fetches water to guests and when the gentleman walks in, he is simplicity personified. Like him, his movies also are simple, yet profound.

No hype, publicity stunts, ‘item songs’ or skin show, the movies went on to break collection records, not just in Andhra Pradesh. ‘Sankarabharanam’ ran for two years at Kavita theatre in Kochi (where the dialogues were in Malayalam, but songs were in Telugu); ‘Sagara Sangamam’ ran for 511 days in Mysore. ‘Siri Siri Muvva’ was screened for 275 days at Shubam Talkies in Chennai. Such was the records the movies broke!

The veteran producer who hails from Kakinada started off as a theatre artiste and was known as ‘Natakala Nageshwara Rao’. During his theatre days, he bumped into actors who put him across to director K Vishwanath. The duo worked together to come up with a list of classics that remain unsurpassable even today for its content and collections. The patriarch of the production house – which is now run by his son Sriram – says he is now retired as he has given his best.

So what is the secret of his stupendous success. “My sound judgement. Whether it was about insisting that Vishwanath retain the innocence of Sivayya’s character (Kamal Haasan) in ‘Swathi Muthyam ‘or not letting the main characters die in ‘Seetakoka Chiluka’ (based on inter-caste love), I prevailed on major decisions and it paid off.

Vishwanath was tempted to make Kamal’s character as a smart one, but I thought it would kill the charm of the movie. Although the original of ‘Seetakoka Chiluka’ in Tamil has the Christian girl and Hindu boy dying at the end and sacrificing their love, I wanted it to have a happy ending when I produced it in Telugu. It was the time when inter-religious marriages were catching up and I wanted to send the right and responsible signal to the society.”

He clarifies that he made each movie with the primary idea of making money. “Obviously it involved huge stakes. However, I never compromised on my values, principles or ethics to make a hit production,” he says.

What does he think about today’s movies not getting any awards in the National level? “Firstly, are there any movies that the producers themselves are confident of?” he asks. He also won the Special Jury award for 2010. “The award came as an afterthought after my nomination for Dadasaheb came by. It is ridiculous and I am embarrassed that the state government thought of it after the national award nomination happened. These awards are based on a jury’s opinion. I would have won if there was a ballet, not the opinion of a biased few,” he added.

Any mistakes he made in his illustrious career? The only movie in which he was not involved personally – but produced it anyway – was ‘Swara Kalpana’ made by Vamsi. “It was the only flop in my career and for obvious reasons.”

Mar 17, 2012

Daughter of my dreams

Why do I always feel that moms who blog are truly super women? Perhaps the thought and assumption that if they are married, have kids, perhaps have jobs and still manage to find some time to talk about their child, life and other issues, they must be really good time managers, perhaps they must really be passionate, perhaps they love their wards so much that they dont leave any stone or blog unturned.

Now, will I be able to do this.. Let me give it a try I could discontinue in a few days.. u'll never know. I am not sure how much I can sustain.. but nevertheless..

First, what was it that I wanted when I imagined a family. For some reason, I've always dreamt of having one girl child. My vision of a happy family was - happiness - celebration - festival - girl wearing glittery lehenga and twinking bangles. So there we stop at a girl child.

It is also rooted to my childhood where a friend of mine - who was a single child - somehow managed to get better marks (with my mom bemoaning - she is a single child and her mom must be giving her complete attention), she was better dressed (same reason), she is more talented (their parents can afford such things as they don't have other kids)... So it was my dream to have one child and a girl child at that. What would I have done if I had a son? I would have had another one for a girl. What would I have done if I had two sons.. I would have taken sanyaas!!! Thankfully, I got what a dreamt. End of story!