January 29, 2011 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
It is Puri Jagan's war to keep his throne. His achievement in the industry was fast and stunning and his career plummeted at an equally great speed. A series of flops, emotional upheavels, financial setbacks, his remuneration dipped to an abysmal low, the most trusted people cheated on him, he lost everything but the only thing that remained intact was his spirit. At one point of time he confesses he wanted to call it quits but he took all of it in his stride and promised himself a clean start, from the scratch. Ask him how he could be so foolish and the director retorts, "Manushulni nammakapothe inka manam evarni nammutham?"
His employees are well paid, his assistant directors are charmed by his spontaneity and attention, his producers adore his commitment and the cost effective handling of the projects. He treasures loyalty and repays it and people around him feel for him, something that borders on genuine love. The last four years was a torture but now he's repaid everything and is on the verge of bouncing back, he says he owes it to his family who stood by him.
His remuneration for the upcoming film 'The Business Man' with Mahesh Babu is flattering, things are slowly looking up for him again. He's even pondering over a new film for his brother Sairam Shankar. "Whether he succeeds or not is a different matter, but I will support him as long as I can," he quips sternly.
At his new office in an upmarket area, he lies down languorously as his Man Friday holds his eye and puts some eye drops every hour, the director is recuperating from a small surgery. He's back from Mumbai after a tete a tete with Big B, Buddha is a story about an arrogant old man which will go on the sets in March and will release in April. As a child in the fifth standard, he had a huge picture of Amitabh stuck on his cupboard, after 10 years in filmmaking and twenty films, Jagan gets to director his idol.
He is currently busy on the five day film mooted by Ramu in which he's the assistant director, many others are volunteering. With a stipulated budget of five lakh, the thriller will start rolling from February 11 onwards, the outcome of which will be a big boost and an impetus to new directors, fresh stories. If the film runs for a week it will be considered a major hit.
Puri loves gun culture and revels in making his heroes undercover cop, moles, encounter specialists, etc. With a childlike enthusiasm he expresses his fondness for the sound of a gun, the piercing of the bullet and the works. He loves the beach and since he doesn't have the luxury of relaxing at the Vizag beach, he flies to Bangkok and writes his script while facing the waters. He doesn't take long, just two weeks but even there he is bombarded by missives and phone calls. "After a big success, they don't allow you to lie back peacefully and write a story, even if it means Bangkok now," he giggles.
He remembers his salad days and says he'd love to introduce new artistes and technicians but the people working with him are refusing to leave him. He says he is baffled by the kind of mails he gets asking for Ali to be retained as a gay in his films, but this time he is serious about changing the comedy track. Was he under duress launching star son's? No, they were concerned. When he was launching Puneet Rajkumar, 75 members in his house ranging from relatives to drivers gathered for the story narration. For Chirutha, Chiranjeevi's entire family was present.
Puri's son is making his debut as a child artist in 'The Lotus Pond' and says he is aware of all the tricks of the trade, right from addressing the media to wooing the directors. When there's no school, he harasses Puri to take him along to the post-production work and when the director comes home late night, the son is all eyes for him.
Puri says, "Evadocchina kaalla meedha padipothuntaadu..I tell him to aspire to be an actor not a hero..in the night he massages my feet, sometimes I wonder if he's doing all this because I'm his dad or a director. I told him sternly one day that I would be out of form by the time he grows up, he should try all this on someone else."