CHENNAI: A little before he left for Vizag to work on his first film way back in 1992, the late Gollapudi Srinivas had heard some great news from Telugu cinema’s mega star Chiranjeevi.
“One day he met me and told me that he got a chance to direct a film called Prema Pusthakam with Ajith. I felt very happy when he requested me to launch the audio and I assured him that I would do it. I also requested him to direct a film with me in it.
“That’s when he told me that he was leaving for a shoot in Vizag. Those were the last words I heard from him,” said an emotional Chiranjeevi, a little after he handed over the Gollapudi Srinivas Award to debutant filmmaker Sanjeev Gupta for his film Q.
Dressed in a typically crisp white kurta, the actor-turned-politician opened up on how much the whole family has inspired and taught him. “I was very excited when Gollapudi Maruti Rao received me at the entrance. My association with him started on the first day of my career in the industry. I visited his family members on many occasions at their residence.
“They have a big lawn in front of their house, in the evening the entire family sits there and spends time,” he explained.
“They are very attached to each other. I want to tell you an incident. One day, Gollapudi garu was sitting on the lawn when his wife brought some water in a glass. Immediately, his elder son mixed some liquid (liquor) into the glass and another son gave the glass to his father. Such was the loving association they had,” he said, to tumultuous laughter from the audience that had packed Music Academy to the hilt.
Reflecting on Srinivas’ tragic demise while making what would have been his debut film, the MP said, “Sometimes god is very cruel and he took away the third son. The entire house was engulfed in deep tragedy. Generally, when a family loses a member they are depressed, but Gollapudi’s family is different — they wanted to preserve the memory of his son by finding a sensible debutant director and honouring him. In each of them, they see the son they had lost and that is why this programme has a special spirit,” he said.
A little before the audience, composed of the who’s who from the South Indian film industry and film buffs, got to hear him speak, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, choreographer Farah Khan and filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj spoke about how the award had grown in stature and spirit over the years.
Delivering the Memorial lecture, actor Siddharth gave a humorous and thought-provoking insight into what the film industry was like for first time directors and how the world had changed for the better for them, since 1992.