He grew up with films surrounding him. His father Chiranjeevi lived and breathed life into his larger-than-life roles earning him the title of megastar. Films are a way of life for Ram Charan Tej. His second film Magadheera took him to such giddy heights of success that he could have lost his head at 24. But Tej has always been way too mature for his age. Not only did he handle his superstardom with a cool head but also experimented with roles totally different from the formula that catapulted him to fame. He believes in being realistic and grounded. That’s what made him the ideal choice for Apoorva Lakhia who was hell bent on Tej essaying the legendary Amitabh Bachchan’s role in Zanjeer.
Tej’s success in Telugu films has already been written about ever since Magadheera created new records in box office collections. But Hindi cinema is a different ball game altogether. How did he land the challenging role? “There has been a lot of curiosity about Telugu movies of late. Magadheera has been pitched to a lot of Bollywood actors and many have expressed their interest to remake it in Hindi. In fact, I got calls from Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan congratulating me. I think these good vibes spread over time and though people don’t really know me, they remember me for my work in that film. When producer Amit Mehra and Apoorva Lakhia thought of remaking Zanjeer and started thinking of young actors who could play an action hero, they thought of me.”
How does he handle the pressure? “The good part is that I have experienced pressure before. I have carried the burden of my dad’s image since day one. They never see me as just another guy trying to make his career in films. I am always ‘Megastar’ Chiranjeevi’s son first, and Ram Charan only later. Whether I do an original film, a dance or a remake of my dad’s hit songs, I have always been compared to him. So yes, I am used to this kind of pressure. I just want to use it as a reason to work harder without taking anything for granted,” says the hot-looker who has colossal female following.
How did he prepare for the role? I am not very methodical as an actor, but at the same time, I believe in doing a certain amount of homework to make each of my roles stand out. I worked with a noted diction trainer to train my voice and dialogues. I can speak Hindi, it’s more of the accent and the modulation. Well, it’s the Hyderabadi Hindi, of course. I worked hard on my body too. I was in Miami for a good three months to get into shape before we started shooting,” says the 27-year-old, who is looking forward to the release of two Telugu films this year, Yevadu and Naayak.
Married to Upasna Kamineni, one of Apollo’s heiresses, Tej is thoroughly enjoying his new role as a husband. So when and how did he realise that she was the one for him? “Even though we have known each other for long, we started dating only three years ago after the release of Magadheera. All my friends kept telling me that she really cares for me like nobody else would and that I wasn’t recognising the fact that she’s the one. One fine day, what my dad had told me years ago came back to me. He had told me when I was weighing my career options that I wasn’t recognising the opportunities I had as an actor. And that I was looking everywhere while sitting on the pot of gold. The scenario seemed similar now. Here was a girl, my friend for seven years, everybody was able to see as my ideal partner and I was being oblivious. That’s when I realized that I was waiting to find the right girl while I had her with me all along”.
Another incident, Tej says, he can never forget is when Upasna asked where he wanted to live after marriage. “I told her about a plot of land I had bought where I intended building a home. She became quiet. I asked her what was wrong. She said she can’t imagine how anybody could leave the family and live on their own. Upasna said that she was brought up in a family in which everybody lived together. That’s when I told her I had meant it as a weekend home. For me, this was one of the most special moments,” says Tej, signing off with a smile.