I can’t do it with the same ease now,” Chiranjeevi says as he flashes a smile, trying to overcome his awkwardness as he poses for our ensman.
Clad in a white shirt and black trousers, Tollywood’s ‘most colourful’ personality, who had to forego his designer wear after turning politician, says he’s “comfortable in his new attire”.
Veering him away from politics we rewind to his 30-year long film career and remind him about things that were close to his heart once. Does he regret not donning the director’s cap and also not featuring in his 150th landmark film? “After experiencing the love and affection of the people and the confidence they have placed in me, these landmarks are nothing in comparison. Yes, I did want to turn director and dish out a magnum opus like Braveheart but after getting into politics, I have no regrets whatsoever,” he says.
Chiru (as he is popularly known) likens his filmi career to two innings. The first innings was that of a struggling actor till Kaidi propelled him to stardom, and after that his second innings saw him pooling in all his energy to sustain the stardom.
So, which of the two was challenging? “My third innings as a political leader seems to be more challenging,” he retorts. However, he states that more than reaching the top, it was sustaining the stardom that was more demanding. “You are alone at the top. It’s like being on a mountain peak, where you should be wary about glaciers, shortage of oxygen and every move has to be measured,” he explains.
Is that the secret of his success? “Not just that, I always used to deeply analyse my flops and tried not to repeat them,” he informs. Looking back, which roles have been the most memorable for him? “Every role is memorable for me since I always enjoyed the process of doing a film and never waited for the result and just moved on to the next.”
Now that he has left the top slot vacant, who among the present crop of stars, has the potential to take his place? “I find most of them talented and obviously the best would emerge the winner,” he cut shorts, without listing the prospective names. Technically his last release was in his son Ram Charan’s untitled film, where he plays a cameo. “No. I just appeared for a couple of moments in a song,” he waves it off.
Going back in time, we talk of his Bollywood hits in the 90s — Pratibandh and Aaj Kaa Goondaraj. So, what prompted him to do those films? “At that time some of my Telugu films flopped, but after the Bollywood hits, I returned to regain my stardom here. I had done those films to prove myself —that a southern star can make it in Bollywood as well. Also the admiration of regional fans has no match,” he reasons.
So, does he miss the arc lights? “I do. But I see myself in Pawan, Charan and Allu Arjun when they act in their films,” he reveals. “I’ve become a household name in the state due to the film industry and it’s my turn to repay the industry by addressing some of its pressing problems,” he says.
The star-turned-politician feels that stars can enter politics like any other eligible citizen but should have a ‘commitment to serve’ people for a long innings. Is he wary of losing his fan following? “They may have been supporting other parties, but once I started my party, they all have come back to me,” he retorts. On his road shows that were a hit, he says, “Getting closer to the people and receiving their overwhelming response cannot be described in words.”
As he makes his debut in politics has he read up on the subject? “No book can replace the first hand experience of people’s problems,” he retorts. Was he hurt by criticism? “It hurt when opponents indulged in character assassination but I just ignored baseless allegations,” he replies.
Is he nervous about the poll outcome? “I am cool and confident,” he avers. “Films had prepared me for this because I learnt the art of not worrying about my new releases. Similarly, I am not nervous now as I can sense a silent revolution among the people of Andhra Pradesh, who are seeking a change in governance,” he signs off.
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