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An Interview With Srihari - 'I Enjoy Mass Image'
Srihari began his film career with small roles and gradually rose to an enviable position in the Telugu film industry. He made his debut as a hero with 'Police'. He faced many ups and downs in his eighteen-year-old film career. He created an image for himself as a mass hero and chose the kind of roles that suit his body language. His birthday falls on August 15th, which coincides with India's Independence Day. Here is a special interview with Srihari taken on that occasion.
Happy Birthday! You were born on a great day. Did you make any special resolutions regarding your career?
No special resolutions or plans. I take things as they come and decide upon the merits of the situation. I like friendships and those who know me know that I am friendly. Both my seniors and the youngsters among heroes treat me as a brother. Even if I don't have offers, the film fraternity remembers me as 'one easily accessible.' Producers and Directors who have given me chances do remember me too. They are all my well wishers. Junior artistes and technicians too love to work with me. I enjoy the love and respect of the industry, thanks to all my seniors' blessings and juniors' best wishes and good will. I look forward to this kind of blessings, goodwill and cooperation all through my career. Above all, I owe a lot to my audience, since they have appreciated my talent for the past eighteen years and extended their encouragement and support.
You started your career as a villain and have now become a hero. How do you feel about the transformation?
As an artiste I am satisfied with every role I have played so far. Every film I have acted in, has given me satisfaction to a lesser or greater extent; true. However, I am still waiting for the role and the move that can give me entire satisfaction.
How do you rate your position as one acting as a hero in the industry?
Honestly I don't know. I haven't thought about it, since I don't think I have reached that 'hero stature' yet. I have to trek a long way to reach that point as an artiste. But I am not the kind to be satisfied with what I have achieved so far.
We all know that you are a good fighter and your wife, a good dancer. But fights dominate your films. Why?
It's true. In my early films I had no songs scripted for me as a hero. I think my body language suits fights rather than duets. But all of us know that songs do miracles for a film. To make a mark as a hero, especially in Telugu movies, I need to have expertise in dance too, so, on my wife's suggestion, I have learnt dancing too.
Are you very choosy about your roles?
No. I don't have any reservations in the matter. I accept any role that brings out my acting talent, and poses a challenge to my histrionic skills. I prefer variety in the roles I do. And that may not always be the lead role. Whatever the role, whether it be the hero's or the character actor's, all that I insist on, is that it should give me the scope for showing my talent.
You have had the role of a mass hero aplenty. Has it ever made you think that you will stick to that kind of roles?
Honestly, I reached the hero position with my action artiste background. In fact, an old story too could be retold to make it look entirely different and even fights too could have a new look. I never wish to lose my 'mass image' though I have no fixed preference for any kind of role. Even a mass hero could have fresh look as you can see in 'Okkadu'. As I have said earlier, I am ready for any kind of role, as is shown in my presently working with young heroes like Sumanth and Vishnu.
You are now a producer too. What made you take to production?
Let me assure you that I turned a producer not with the intention of making profits. It is to show my talent as an actor, that I have donned this role.
What lessons has your eighteen experiences in film industry taught you?
I am against taking risks at this stage. If your film is a hit or has an average run, people say your risk was worth taking. If it flops your career ends there. I feel that the present time is not opportune for adventure. All that I am trying to do is give my fans and audience what they expect of me.
How do you celebrate your birthdays as an actor?
Even while I was doing the roles of villains, I celebrated my birthdays. In fact, I attach little importance to celebrating birthdays. Of course I am not against it.
What is it you have learnt when you look back over your career so far?
Nothing special. As an actor I have learnt a lot which is different from what I have learnt as a hero and now as a producer it is a different kind of experience altogether, and future it's all in God's hands.
As an actor you wish to do many kinds of roles. Do you ever think that the 'mass image' you have earned through your action films comes in the way of your doing a variety of roles?
I don't think so. In fact as an artiste, I wish to do characters that appeal to the masses. I felt it while doing roles like 'Kubusam' and 'Prithvinarayana' and recently with 'Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana'. But my real desire for a variety of roles is yet to be realized.
Do you ever think that you lag behind the others in career with success alternating with flops?
Success and flops are quite common. Even seniors experience them. The idea that one or two flops would affect an actor's career is meaningless. I am established as an actor. I can overcome my lapses with a bang of success. So I never think too much about my lapses or failures.
Now you are working with young heroes. Do you think this would damage your hero image?
No. Not at all. I do take up my characters according to my audience's wish. My admirers say that my character in the recent film 'Nuvvusthavante Nenoddantana' is the key to its success. And I have to accept their opinion. I am happy to say that I have secured women admirers with this film. If I had rejected the offer to act in this film, I would have lost these admirers. Thank God I didnít say no then. Apart from all this I do feel that an actor having an image is always troublesome.