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`I'd love to do an Idiot again'

Ravi Teja says he owes his success to fans, the film world and sheer hard work


HE IS easily the most talked-about actor in the business today, straddling the Telugu film world with panache. It was his role in Sindooram that set the ball rolling. His body of work includes Avunu Vallidharu Ishtadpaddaru, Itlu Sravani Subramaniam, Idiot, Nee Kosam and Khadgam. He stormed the screen with a whirlwind of passion in Amma Naana O Tamil Ammayi, Chanti, Venki, and Ee Abbai Chala Manchodu. A Tamil remake, Na Autograph, put on him the seal of "fine actor" and today he is all set to entrench his position with an untitled venture by Venkateshwara Films.

At Ramanaidu Studios one sunny afternoon, the versatile actor sits down and bares his heart. "This is the place I always wanted to be in. I was waiting for that `okka chance' and here I am. Nothing speaks like success. A lot of people are not surprised that I have become a hero because they always said I had it in me. It's just that it took some extra time for things to fall in place. But better late than never. My story is straight out of Krishna Vamsi's Khadgam. My struggle to reach where I am is very similar to the character I portrayed in the film and I must say I have been very lucky. As far as hits and flops are concerned, it's not in my hands."

Secret of success

Guts, luck and self-belief - it takes all this and more to leave a lasting impression in an unforgiving industry. And Ravi Teja seems to have it all. Ask him the secret behind his success and he says, "I have always identified with the characters I portrayed. I have never over-reacted to a situation. I can't imagine myself in any other trade other than this. I have lived and breathed cinema since I was nine years old and patiently waited my turn to get into this industry. Luck has played a very minor role in my life. It was sheer hard work as far as I remember."

The actor says he has enjoyed each and every moment of his struggle. "I have no complaints and regrets. I have always followed my dreams and have never given up at any stage. There was no scope for depression or frustration. Yes, sometimes I did get annoyed and feel helpless when undeserving actors would lap up roles that I had set my sights on."

Talking about his success sojourn, Ravi Teja says Puri Jagganadh was one person who supported him, gave him three hit films, and always had firm belief in his acting talent. "Others too have reposed faith in me - be it my fans, directors or producers who have invested big money. It's a huge responsibility to fulfil their expectations. You never know when people get bored of watching our faces. I would love to play characters similar to that in Idiot. I detest slow, morose and dull roles."

Casual approach

What about the snail-paced Autograph? He replies with a smile, "The film brought me critical acclaim but didn't do well commercially." As an actor, Ravi Teja can be sensitive, vulnerable, funny, aggressive and charming as the role demands. He goes about his role so casually that the effect is very believable. His biggest fans have been women and he is aware of it. "They want some `allari' from me." His last film, Chanti - The Hero, was a box-office turkey but Ravi Teja seems unfazed. He refuses to speak about his forthcoming film. "Not until it releases," he says. The actor says the only transformation that took place in his life post stardom is that he travels by car. "I have not changed at all. I keep telling my friends, `Stop calling me `meeru'. Manishiki value iyyandiraa, position ki kaadhu (value the man, not his position)."

And what does he have to say about the dog-eat-dog working style of tinsel town?

"The people who work with me here in this industry are wonderful human beings. Some of them have been with me in the past, as roommates in Chennai. This industry is a fabulous place to work in and there is place for everyone over here."

Talking of life beyond cinema, he says, "I detest people who speak ill of others and also the kind who try to pull someone down. I am for healthy competition."

Y. SUNITA CHOWDHARY

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