2018 was a watershed year for you, how do you look at the progress you made this year?
The credibility that comes with the perception of success is something I cherish. I’ve lived with the idea of Goodachari for 14 years and the film itself was in the making for a little under two years. Of course, it’s always nice when a movie succeeds at the box office so beautifully. Kshanam, 2016; Ami Tumi, 2017; and Goodachari, 2018… it’s been nice to be part of films that have done well each year. On a separate note, I don’t take success or failure too seriously.
Did you find it tough to break in? And when you did, was it tough to convince the industry about your language of expression?
It was tough to find the credibility to become a lead actor. That didn’t happen until late 2015. But as an actor, my big break came in 2011 with my second film, Panjaa. A lot of people in the industry told me that I became a leading man of sorts in 2015, and Kshanam cemented that. I never took all that too seriously anyway. I always thought that growing up in different countries would’ve been my asset. And it has been, when writing a story. As a person living here, I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I still do.
Goodachari was a smash. Did you expect it to be such a success?
It’s become my career’s biggest hit and I’m very proud of the work we put in. I’d always hoped and dreamt that it would be a huge success. That’s exactly what happened. And now, a franchise is born. I couldn’t be happier.
With films like Arjun Reddy, Baahubali, and Goodachari, do you feel Telugu cinema is going through a process of radical genesis?
I feel that the new wave started sometime in 2014, that’s when people’s ideas started changing. The kinds of concepts being discussed in Hyderabad were a little different. Baahubali was being made. People were writing these kinds of movies, putting them together, and releasing them, and the public got to see the fruit of that around 2015 or 2016.
For a big star like Ram Charan to agree to his character in Rangasthalam is incredible, and speaks volumes about how creatively inclined the movie business has become, top to bottom. Commercially as well, the last few years have been phenomenal for the Telugu movie business and that is because of Baahubali. It revived the culture of movie-going for the Telugu people. What Bhangra is to Punjabis, cinema has become to the Telugu people.
What are your plans
vis-a-vis Bollywood? Or do you believe better to be the lion in your own jungle?
I’ll be working on my debut Bollywood film in 2019. I’m quite proud of that project and will announce it in due course. I am essentially the product of my experience and my exposure isn’t limited to the Telugu states. I’d love to tell stories that are pan-Indian or even international. - IANS