HYDERABAD: One look at Daggubati Venkatesh and you immediately know that he’s an odd man out from the starry bandwagon in the Telugu film industry. Calm, self-effacing and witty, the actor is least interested in stardom and the fanfare that comes along with it, and is more focussed on getting his next film out of the way. “I have always disliked the term ‘star’. All of us are actors first and the industry is a combination of artists, who work together as colleagues. Nobody is bigger than the other and I look at everybody on the same wavelength,” explains Venkatesh, at a promotional event of his upcoming film Gopala Gopala in the city on Wednesday. In an hour-long chat, the actor speaks about his film, co-stars and religion, leaving everybody in splits with his incredible sense of humour.
On Gopala Gopala
A film close to his heart, Venkatesh felt that it’s a story that must be told. “I found the film very appealing as soon as I heard the script. It’s important that a film entertains the audience and at the same time brings out a message in the end. That’s exactly what Gopala Gopala offers,” explains the actor, who was previously seen in Sripriya’s 2014 hit film, Drushyam.
“In a nutshell, Gopala Gopala teaches you to love God. Many of us fear God. Personally too, even though I was always a believer, I had to go through several phases of keeping God at a distance. My people taught me to keep him away from own heart,” the 54-year-old explains.
“Due to a lack of knowledge, people tend to treat God as something else, but we have to move on and realise that no God is better than the other, and then finally we reach a stage where we have to keep him within us. I have personally felt the same way about God,” Venkatesh informs.
It was only a matter of time before questions were raised about Pawan Kalyan and his equation with him on and off the sets. Appearing on-screen for the first time after his foray into politics, Pawan’s presence in Gopala Gopala has garnered tremendous curiosity among his fans and other movie-goers. “10 years ago we wanted to work together but couldn’t find the right script. A couple of times we wanted to work together but they didn’t work out. However, when this film came, we were all very excited and when my brother approached Pawan for the role, he was immediately attracted to it,” points out Venkatesh on how they signed him up.
“I think this is an apt film for Pawan and it will certainly be one of his best roles till date. His character required his body language to be very, very divine and he worked extremely hard on the role and tried to be in that mood all the time. I had a wonderful time working with him on the sets,” expresses the multi-talented actor.
The recent audio launch of Gopala Gopala witnessed hundreds of fans at the venue, most of whom were fans of the Powerstar. Asked if that bothered him, Venkatesh brushes it aside, saying, “Both of us have our own sets of fans and even the fans have clarity about what to expect from each of us. So there is no such competition between us. As far as I’m concerned, I look at everyone the same way and not really concerned about the fanfare.”
A remake of Hindi film OMG-Oh My God, Gopala Gopala landed in trouble with a few Hindu outfits which urged the Censor Board not to clear the film due to some “objectionable” scenes. However, Venky, as the actor is fondly called, says such incidents had no bearing on the movie and the intention of the film is to love God and not to hurt any religious sentiments. “It’s natural for certain people to react and they are free to express their views but once they see the film they won’t look at it that way. In case, there are any unfortunate incidents, we will convince them and it’ll be fine. Because whatever the scriptures tell, that’s what I tell in the film,” Venkatesh candidly explains.
Pointing out that the film brings awareness about certain characters who try to deceive people in the name of God, the actor explains the film just tries to provide more clarity on the almighty. “I’m happy to see movies like PK being accepted by the audience and I feel the youth today need more clarity on certain things and do not believe anything blindly,” Venky adds.
Multi-starrers and remakes
Over the years, Venkatesh has earned the tag of ‘remake king’ for his roles in films like Gharshana, Eenadu, Sankranthi and the recently released Drushyam. The actor, though, has no qualms about and treats each movie differently. “I don’t make a conscious effort to do remakes. I do a script which appeals to me and not because it was earlier successfull in another language,” he says, unobtrusively.
Apart from remakes he has also worked in multi-starrers, most notably opposite Mahesh Babu in the 2013 film, Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu. Venky says he is open to doing remakes in the future. “I am comfortable with everybody in the industry and have no qualms about sharing space with others if the script is compelling, I will be happy to be a part of it,” he points out.
Making the right choice
At 54, having delivered innumerable hits in a glittering career spanning over three decades, one wonders if Venky will choose his films more carefully in the future. “Sometimes, even when you’re extremely careful, your films can turn out to be flops. So it’s not in our hands. As an actor, I’ll take what comes my way, but when I take it I work very hard. The industry has given me so much, so it’s only fair to give it back,” he says, signing off.
Both of us have our own sets of fans and even the fans have clarity about what to expect from each of us. So there is no such competition between us Venkatesh, actor