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Facing new challenges

Nandi-award winner Balakrishna is keen on doing quality roles, with a strong storyline


A SUNNY morning at the seven-acres plot of Annapurna studios: There is a hub of activity at the market set, as scores of onlookers throng the location for a dekko at the proceedings, particularly at their favourite actor.

The unit hands had a hard time keeping them at bay, as director Jayanth C. Paranje shot an action scene on Balakrishna for Bellamkonda Suresh's Lakshminarasimha. After the shot, the Yuvarathna who had popularised a particular genre of action-oriented-family dramas with Samarasimha Reddy, smiles and waves at his fans before settling for a chat.

"It is long since I played a cop. Rowdy Inspector was a big hit. But the approach to the police officer in Lakshminarasimha is totally in contrast. The unusual characterisation in the original version (Sami - Tamil) appealed to me. Generally, I don't go for remakes. But here is an exception. Watch it, you will find it very interesting too," smiles Balakrishna.

Is he into creating one more trend? "Konda Krishnamraju's untitled film directed by Swarna Subbarao has all the necessary ingredients to create a new trend. The subject is on cross border security aspects. The RAW officer, I play, goes into amnesia, he recovers and then takes on the militants belonging to a neighbouring country. There is vast span in the subject. Generally, all my subjects emanate from a central character. Then we weave a story around him."

Bala says he drew inspiration from his illustrious father's works. "My father has always been an inspiring force. He has done such a variety of roles in 325 films that each of his films showed him in a new light. Whenever I have the time, I make it a point to watch his films. He still lives in my memory and my genes."

Has he got any role in mind that his father had done? "Like the character he played in Kalisi Unte Kaladu Sukham. An actor should take up such challenging roles. I never cared for an image. More than the image, I give priority to the subject and the character I play. I have always believed that the success of a film depends on a strong storyline, interesting narrative and teamwork. All other things are secondary."

"Audience expect the same style in an actor, you may call it image or by any other name. Of course without being chained by it, we have to show variety in the characterisation and screenplay. I mould myself according to the character within the parameters of what the audience expect from me," says Bala.

He made his first screen appearance just when he had entered his teens with Tatamma Kala (released on August 30,1974). In these 30-years he had done only about 85 films. "I am not interested in quantity or the number-game. In the initial years of one's career, an artiste should not be too greedy about signing films, for what matters is quality. It has become a habit with me now (smiles), which is why I still sign only quality products," says the Nandi-award winner.

And amazingly, he keeps himself trim giving the young generation a complex. "I don't take any particular care. Just the usual diet and yoga, that's all."

Over the years he has kept himself away from `filmland' gossip. "I have no other passion other than my work. And I don't generally mingle with industry folks. In my leisure, I either listen to scripts or read books and magazines, or watch old movies. Sundays are reserved for the family.

I am a deeply religious person . Recently, I was out with my family on a week's trip to Madurai, Swamimalai and other temples in the South."

What about his heir? "I wish he becomes a hero too. Mokshajgna is still in school. Let him complete his education. Of course, the final decision is his."

One area he has kept open and is not discussing much these days is politics. About the folklore that was launched with so much pomp by Bhargav Arts' S. Gopala Reddy, Bala says, "They say it has been scrapped."

But he says he has plans to do a mythological project soon. And grapevine has it that it will be a remake of the 1963-classic, Narthansala that won a couple of awards at the Afro-Asian film festival in Jakarta.

About the one area he is yet to venture into - direction, he says, "I have to do this job one day. It will no doubt be a mammoth project and needs total concentration. Right now prior commitments are taking my time."

M.L.NARASIMHAM

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