Interview with allu arjun

How did Vedam happen?

I was bowled by Gamyam, and asked what Krishna (Krish, Jagarlamudi Radhakrishna) would be doing next. He told me he is planning a small movie with five different stories. I insisted him to tell me the story though he (and to an extent I knew) that I was not going to do the film. And when he told me the story, I was completely into it. I had to do it. I told him that I would love to do it. That’s how Vedam happened.
What specifically made you to choose Vedam?
There are a lot of things that Krishna wanted to say in the film. There are stories which we see all the time, but hardly care to bring them on to screen, especially in Telugu films. I saw what Krishna wanted to do, and I knew it would be a special film, irrespective of its success. I felt bad that Krishna’s talent would be going into a small film. I wanted it to be accepted at a larger scale because it talks about issues that a larger audience will relate to.
I also knew that I have a place of my own in the industry, which might augur well with the film’s flow. Hence I chose to put myself in it, and tried to take it to a larger level by bring in other actors.
But didn’t you think it was a risk to do such a film?
No. Not at all. At the time we were in discussions I was shooting Arya 2, and there were talks of Badrinath seriously happening. Both are big films, and in the mean time I thought a small scale film will allow me some flexibility as an actor. So career wise and satisfaction wise, Vedam came at the right time.
What did your dad(Allu Aravind) and others say?
This is one film about which I didn’t talk to dad. Hence when I told him I was doing this film, he believed in me that I was doing something good.
Yes there were few well wishers who asked me not to do this film, but I had already made up my mind. I couldn’t tell everyone about the conviction I had in Krishna and his story. Hence I kept telling them that I was doing the film irrespective of its result.
How did you and Krish manage to pull such special casting?
Once I was in, Krishna and I had many discussions over characters. He knew I was in the film, but was still planning things with other actors. So I suggested a few names, and that’s how we got the actors.
When I first heard of the prostitute character, I was completely impressed. The value this character brings to the film should only be seen on screen. That’s when we thought we should try and tell the story to Anushka.
We believed Anushka would accept this role because of the film ‘Arundhati’. She worked with producer Shyam Prasad Reddy, who is an extremely passionate producer. You don’t work for him if you are not as passionate for movies as much as he is. He demands complete dedication from his crew and takes nothing less. Coming out from his film, you become a different actor.
As we expected when she heard the story, she was into it. It was a bold decision for a Telugu commercial film heroine to take up the role of a prostitute. I will tell you her character is worth the risk!
When I heard the character of a rock star, I wanted someone who not only has great acting capabilities but also have a unique style of his own. I suggested Manoj Manchu to Krishna. Incidentally, he was thinking about him too and they share a great rapport too.
Again, Manoj loved the story.
To be honest no single actor can take credibility for Krishna’s concept and story. But yes I don’t mind saying that I think I gave the push such a film needed, and I am glad I did that.
How was it working with the team?
Most people believe that this is a small team. No. Apart from me, Anushka and Manoj, we have Lekha Washington, Manoj Bajpai, Deeksha Sen and many others. Then there was someone like Krishna who was leading the team. Editor and cinematographer did tremendous job too!
Manoj is a friendly guy and everyone knows we are family friends. To me personally he is like a younger brother. If there was anything that I’d ask, Manoj would somehow manage to get it to me. I liked his car so much, we went around RFC. We created most trouble for Krishna.
I am eager to see the response of audiences to the scenes in which Anushka and I were together. Though I have very few scenes with her, she did a tremendous job.
Manoj Bajpai
Manoj Bajpai and I earlier acted together in Happy, hence there was a certain comfort level. He appreciated me for taking up this film. To quote it in his words, “There is a thin line between actors and stars. I really appreciate how you are balancing both”. It’s nice to hear such things. And you know how capable actor he is.
Keeravani did my first film and we have been waiting for an opportunity to work together again. We thought it would be with Badrinath, but fortunately we got together even before it. His command over Telugu and his rerecording specialty is impeccable.
Actually he and Krish were already in touch even before I came into the film. He got so much involved with the script that he wanted to write the songs. You listen to the audio, and watch the film you will know how much he has added to the film.
At the end of the day, no matter how much we talk, this film completely belongs to Krishna. It’s his vision, his story, his treatment and his philosophy that you will see on the screen.
He wanted to give the film a raw feel, and hence we shot at real locations. He is the kind of a filmmaker whom everyone yearns to be.
He didn’t believe it at first that I agreed to do the film. But when we were doing the film he appreciated me for taking the risk.
What is your role in the film?
You already know my role as a cable operator. Luckily I had the option to choose the character that can be easily related to, and which has maximum length. I did some extremely funny scenes and intense emotional scenes too. It was extremely satisfying to do such work.
Did anyone see the film? How is the feedback coming? My dad loved my film. He said that at any point of my life I can take this film out of the library and watch it. It is so much thrilling to listen to it from him.
K.Raghavendra Rao garu was the first person who launched me. He said that he is glad to see that one of his actors has done such a wonderful film, and performed well too. It meant so much to me when he said that.
People who saw the film are sending me bouquets. I never got such a response for my previous films. I knew there was this thin line between conviction and confidence. I am glad I could tell the difference.
At a personal level, you come across as quite mature. Has the film rubbed on to you or are you like this naturally?
(Laughs) No. I was the one who chose to do the film in the first place. So I guess the maturity has always been there. Krishna said that too!
You have a large fan base in Kerala. Are you planning to dub it in Malayalam?
I’m sure they are going to love it. They already have such films. And to see me doing their kind of roles, I am sure they will respond positively to this one as they did with my other films.
Any final words about Vedam?
Vedam is a movie with a format that is extremely new to Telugu films. Yes there are films like Love Actually, Crash etc. in English; Metro and Salam-E-Ishq in Hindi etc. But this is completely new to Telugu and am sure people will love it. We as stars talk about films being different, but this film will now redefine ‘different’ atleast for Telugu audiences.
There is always a section of audience who keeps asking why are Telugu movies so clichéd. Now I can proudly say, we made a film for them, and it is their turn to encourage it.
After watching this movie every director or a technician will think why couldn’t they make one like it. No I’m not saying that they will feel jealous or envious but definitely they will feel the pinch!
I hope this film succeeds so that the next time I or anyone wants to do such a film; they don’t have to be nervous before choosing one such.
Are you nervous about the film?
(Laughs) I think even someone like James Cameron who made Titanic and Avatar, will feel the nervousness prior to release. That’s why I guess we do only two films per year. If we do more, we might get a heart attack! But yes I am thrilled and nervous. It is a good situation to be. I am hoping for the best though.
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