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January 11, 2023 04:17 pm | Updated 05:20 pm IST
Chiranjeevi and Ravi Teja in the Telugu film ‘Waltair Veerayya’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
The promos of the Telugu film Waltair Veerayya indicate an unapologetic and massy masala entertainer that will also stoke memories of superstar Chiranjeevi’s earlier hits of the 1990s and 2000s. Ahead of the release of the film directed by K S Ravindra aka Bobby that also stars Ravi Teja and Chiranjeevi, on January 13, Chiranjeevi stated that he enjoys being a part of commercial cinema and is pleased that he can deliver those vintage moments in his new film, which remind movie buffs of Gharana Mogudu, Gang Leader, Rowdy Alludu and Mutha Mestri.
At a media interaction in Hyderabad, the actor said he would continue to act as long as he can or direct, contributing in the best possible manner to cinema, and cited the example of Clint Eastwood who acts, directs and produces in his 90s.
Peppering the interaction with details about the film, which he jovially termed ‘Chiru leaks’, the actor revealed that he plays a well-to-do fisherman who smuggles and therefore can afford expensive clothes and a branded watch. Accordingly, his look was styled by his daughter Sushmita Konidela. Apart from his run-ins with Ravi Teja, the highlights of Waltair Veerayya will include an episode filmed on murky ocean waters and a sequence filmed in the Maredumilli forest zone.
A portion from the trailer that has him mouthing a dialogue from Ravi Teja’s Idiot and Ravi Teja rendering a line from Chiranjeevi hits has gone viral and Chiranjeevi credited it to director Bobby for coming up with the idea. Speaking of Ravi Teja, Chiranjeevi said, “I have known him since his early days when he did a smaller role in Annayya. His drive and commitment have not changed. He is energetic and focussed.”
At 67, Chiranjeevi continues to perform action sequences and shake a leg with a much younger leading lady (Shruti Haasan) in this film. “There are times I wish I could play mature characters, like Kamal Haasan in Vikram or Venkatesh in Drushyam, and not bother about dancing or performing stunts. But the audiences want me to dance, fight and entertain them and I continue to get those scripts,” Chiranjeevi explains.
Chiranjeevi | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
He pauses to reflect on the early years of his career when he acted in offbeat films such as Swayamkrushi, Subhalekha or Aapadbandhavudu. “There was a conflict in me as to what kind of films I should be doing. Later, rather than presenting what I wanted to do, I began delivering what the audiences were enjoying from me.”
He mentions that after his re-entry into Telugu cinema with Khaidi No.150 in 2017 after a 10-year break, he played a freedom fighter in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy and a grey, mature character in the 2022 film Godfather. When asked if it is a struggle to find interesting scripts at this juncture of his career, Chiranjeevi said, “That struggle has been perpetual. There are times when I have wondered if directors will offer me anything new, but I continue to get fresh and interesting scripts.”
The support of the audiences, Chiranjeevi says, energises him to wake up each morning and head to the film shoots. Recalling performing a risky bungee jumping sequence for Bavagaru Bagunnara, he said, “Standing on that plank and looking down (into the gorge), I could visualise how the audience will cheer while watching the scene in the theatres. I felt relaxed and jumped.”
This Sankranti pitches Chiranjeevi with his colleague and competitor Balakrishna, whose Veera Simha Reddy hits theatres on January 12. Up next for Chiranjeevi is Bhola Shankar, the Telugu remake of Ajith’s Tamil film Vedalam. Discussing the relevance of remakes in the digital era, Chiranjeevi said, “We made a lot of changes while adapting Godfather since people had widely watched the Malayalam film Lucifer. Yet, it was received well in Telugu and Hindi. Vedalam is not available on OTT platforms and I think if the remake is done well, it will be accepted by the audience. When a story is presented to me, I try to visualise it and ask why someone should spend ₹100 or ₹200 and watch this film in the theatres. I accept a film only when I can find answers to that question.”
Telangana / Telugu cinema
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