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"Show" time!

Manjula, daughter of Telugu film star Krishna, talks about her debut production "Show", that won two national awards.

FOR MANJULA, it was a time to celebrate, as her maiden film production, `Show' won two national awards, besides getting the tax exemption from the Andhra Pradesh Government. A Chennai-ite to the core, Manjula was born, brought up and groomed in film-making process in this city. "You know why I chose Madanapalle and Thada forest as the locations for my film, they not only formed an ideal location but were mainly due to its proximity to Chennai." laughs Manjula who shuttles between Hyderabad, where her famous father actor Krishna lives, and Chennai where her moorings are.

What was her initial reaction when she heard the news about the awards her film won for the best screenplay, the first for a Telugu film and the best regional film award? "It was amazing. I recollected the whole journey. It was a moment in my life I cried and laughed as all the hard work culminated in a grand recognition." She stops for a while and continues, "Though I hail from a famous film family, it was not a fairy tale entry for me. First and foremost, acting was in my mind. But I had to face hurdles when I tried that in Telugu films. I am against doing the regular kind of heroine in commercial films. So when director Neelakantha narrated this story of two strangers whose meeting at an isolated place takes interesting twists and explores the psyche of lone people, I liked the idea. There are only two characters — Madhav (played brilliantly by Surya) and Rithama in the film. I found I could do justice to the role. It is just a feel and it has fallen into my head and I listened to my heart, it said go ahead and do the role. I produced the film with the money I had saved over the years. We shot the film for 22 days at a stretch without any publicity. So no one, including my father, knew about it till we completed the film. At a very early stage in his career, my father too acted in an offbeat film, "Sakshi" (director Bapu's debut film). He is very supportive, and was very proud when he heard the news about the awards."

Manjula had earlier acted in a cameo role in a Tamil film, "Rajasthan" and one of the heroines in that runaway Malayalam hit, "Summer in Bethelham," both in commercial format. Contrary to that in "Show" there are no songs, no melodrama and no action scenes. "It is indeed a challenging role for a new comer. But my co-star Surya is a superb artiste and he made my job easy, as I had to react to his acting in most scenes. Otherwise, the natural flow in my acting would not have been there," admits Manjula, an alumni of Stella Maris College, Chennai.

Manjula plans to release a Tamil version of "Show" shortly. "Tutu Sharma who had presented the film is remaking it in Hindi." Meanwhile, she has signed Tamil director S. J. Surya and A.R. Rahman for her next production with her brother Mahesh Babu in the lead. "I will be involved in all the departments, right from script and music compositions to the editing table." Soon she will join the illustrious company of women directors such as Suhasini, Revathy and Janaki Viswanathan. "But as a director I would like to reach out to a larger audience and it will be a commercial blockbuster," says Manjula with a smile. Meanwhile she hopes `Show', selected for this year's panorama section in the IFFI will bring her recognition from across the globe.

M.L. NARASIMHAM

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