It was 21st of August 2004. Chiranjeevi and Sonali Bendre were dancing for Adnan Sami's 'Ye Zilla Ye Zilla' song in a set erected at Nanakramguda Studios. Watching Chiranjeevi at work (especially when he dances) is a great treat to watch. As the group dancers performed over 15 minutes to get their step, rhythm and grace right, Chiranjeevi appears at the time of final take and performs his dance like a magician and gives a look towards choreographer Raju Sundaram for the response. After gettng satisfactory nod from choreographer, Chiranjeevi shows a Thumps Up sign and retire back to his green room as the group dancers prepare for their next step.
'If you want to take interview, take it now, otherwise you won't get him till the release of the film' said Akkineni Ravi Shankar Prasad (producer of Shankar Dada MBBS). It is already 8 pm in the evening. Chiranjeevi had to attend his birthday function that mid night. I asked him if it would be of any inconvenience to him for granting an interview. Chiranjeevi quickly agreed to give an interview with a warm gesture - 'We guys never meet very often. So let us make best of it since we met now'.
The interview started at 8 pm and continued in the gaps of song shoot till 10 pm. Chiranjeevi was very elaborate in his answers and he knew exactly of what we wanted from him. Here is the first part of his interview on the eve of grand gala release of Mega Star's latest film 'Shankar Dada MBBS' on 15th October 2004 ....
Tell us about being present at Athens for Olympics 2004 as an ambassador of Coke?
Sanjiv Gupta, President, Coca-Cola India, on behalf of Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, wanted me and my family to visit Athens, for Olympics 2004, as their guest of honor, since I have been promoting Coke in India. Then the sudden demise of Allu Ramalingaiah gaaru changed my mind and I thought of canceling the visit. But Allu Arvind wanted me to go ahead with this plan and he also insisted upon me taking my kids and Surekha with me so that a change of place might help them come out of the trauma of Ramalingaiah gaaru's loss easily. The tickets were already booked and they were about to be canceled. But with Arvind's proposal we changed our minds and we went ahead with our trip to Athens.
After being there, I felt that it was a lifetime memorable event. The opening ceremony was spectacular and magnificent. I have seen couple of shows in Las Vegas like the O-show in Bellagio, which has ocean sports arranged in water. After watching shows like O-Show I felt there wouldn't be anything greater than that. But after watching the opening ceremony at Athens I was spell bound and the specialty of the opening ceremony is it attracts the whole world to it. And watching such a big event with the naked eye is a thrilling experience. We found ourselves to be extremely fortunate to be among the high-energy crowd that was welcoming the Olympics back to Greece after hundred years. Our kids felt ecstatic and shared their happiness by expressing on how privileged they were to be my offsprings.
While watching games like floor gymnastics we were really amazed by the performances of Russians and Chinese who are trained from the age of ten exclusively in these games. Among the other games, we saw swimming, beach volleyball and women volleyball. The most important thing that we need to learn from these games is sportsmanship among players. It felt was if winning or losing did not matter. What mattered was participating in the games with a good spirit.
We enjoyed the excellent reception given to us by Coke. Of the 7 days, we went around Athens for 2 days and we spent one day on a cruise. Again, we should commend the impeccable planning and organization of the people that went into planning the opening ceremony and making it a spectacular event with their excellent work.
Starting from Legend NTR to you, most of you are icons of Telugu film industry and almost all of them have setup studios except for you. You are the only one to have started a charitable trust (CCT). Is there any specific reason for that and do you have any plans to start a studio in the future?
There are two ways of paying back to the society. One is professionally by building studios and other infrastructural facilities that would felicitate employment to the needy technicians and development of Telugu film industry. The second way of paying back is to do charity work to the society.
Thanks to the audience and the industry, I am professionally well off today. And personally I wanted to do something to the society, giving the audience something in return for their support and admiration that they have always showered on me. So more than doing anything in terms of infrastructure development for the movie industry, the thought to serve the people drove me to setup this trust. And people around me like Allu Aravind and Naga Babu, who are into movie production, supported my idea of doing some social service. Also, all my family members stood by me saying that we need to give something back to the society.
My biggest strengths are all my fans, who listen to me and put my words into action with great energy serving the society with verve and enthusiasm. That is how I started the Eye bank and the Blood bank. Setting up a studio is a good idea too because it aids in the development of film industry infrastructure and also provides jobs to the unemployed youth. Though I was focused on the charitable trust until now I have also started giving a serious thought to build a studio now. We are planning to take some land and build a studio and if it materializes then we all - Pawan Kalyan, Naga Babu, Aravind and myself - would be involved in it.
About the camaraderie he shares with Allu Arvind
Rather than being just a brother-in-law and a producer, Arvind is more of a friend to me. And I think the best relation between any two persons is friendship. There might be secrets and rife between wife and husband, but there will not be any secrets or problems between friends. I discuss everything with Arvind and likewise Arvind too. Arvind thinks in a different way than me and he gives me advice based on what is best for me. When I make a decision, he thinks from my perspective and supports that decision. Though we are film personalities, we rarely discuss things about films in our meetings unless there is a film that involves both of us.
About his relationship with Pawan Kalyan
Regarding Pawan Kalyan, though we endorse two rival cola products (Thumpsup & Pepsi) we never discuss about these things at home. The free time that we have is very less and we try utilizing it in enjoying with family members.
About keeping professional and personal life separate
I do not let my personal life entangle with my professional life or vice versa. The moment I walk in to my house, I leave the actor in me outside. Cinema is like God to me. But personal life is equally vital. Though cinema and my personal life are equally important to me, I think I have succeeded in drawing a line differentiating these two. For that matter, I did not have a single photograph of mine in my office till recently. I am practical about life and I am sure that the image (stardom) that I have right now will not be there forever. If I start feeling that I am the incarnation of God by looking at the image (stardom) I will end up being a megalomaniac. That's the reason why I have kept my reel life and real life poles apart and I think I've succeeded in that.
In the 175 days functions of Indra, you mentioned that you slept on hard floor (katika nela) on the biggest days of your life just to make sure that success would not get into your head?
I came from a middle class family. My father started his career as constable in police department then rose to the level of Assistant Excise Superintendent (State Excise Department). Though we have two superstars [Chiranjeevi & Pawan Kalyan] and a big producer [Nagababu], our style of living and cultural habits have never changed. If you visit my home, you feel like being at the home of people with down-to-earth habits. We lead a simple and common life even today. Everybody enjoys appreciation from others. But we should enjoy it for a few seconds and use it as a fuel for positive things and move on. One should not carry it to one's head.
I am lucky to have a wife like Surekha who also came from a like-minded family of Ramalingaiah gaaru with similar kind of ideology and lifestyle. My kids also inherited the same kind of thinking. In fact, my son [Ram Charan Teja] does not have a car of his own today. The only reason I did not buy him a car is that I do not want him to treat it as a luxury. He should realize its necessity. I now understand that he really needs a car and I am willing to present him with one very soon.
Ram Charan Teja came to watch Munnai Bhai MBBS when I went to Prasads. At that time I observed that he was traveling in a friend's Maruti 800.
Is it? (laughs) Ram Charan finishes gym by 9:30 pm. And even when there is nobody to pick him up, he somehow manages and gets home. All of his student friends have big cars to themselves. But Teja never complained about it to us. I am lucky to have such an understanding and simple living kids.
Do you think Ram Charan Teja has it in him to become an actor?
Yes. I think he has the right personality (behavior and way of thinking). I am happy that he is on the right track so far. All I need to do is ignite passion in him for acting and the rest will follow. I think personality development is the most important thing than any other training like horse riding, fights etc. And I must say that so far everything is going on very well.
This interview was given by chiranjeevi garu before entering into politics.Well, the Andhrawishesh Team wishes the megastar for a wondoerful life. we all love you Sir...