November 06, 2011 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
A conversation with an avant-garde actor like Rajendra Prasad is revealing, inspiring and reinforces one's love for cinema. In a light-hearted banter the actor talks of his ups and downs and the serendipitous offers that came his way when directors came to him with boring, dry and clichéd roles. Now he has a bunch of movies in hand (Mogudu, Nippu, Dream, Ayyare, Onamalu, Lovely, a film with Trivikram Srinivas) and is dying to catch those forty winks.
Unconscious of the thick war paint on his visage he goes on, "It is a lie if actors say they don't suffer from insecurity, at some point of time in life even actors like NTR and MGR must have had nagging doubts, what if they don't get a good role in the future. If people say they aren't bothered, aren't worried and they don't care about their future in movies they are lying, they are superficial.
I passed through the stage not just once. I was a zero before Ladies Tailor happened. It instilled confidence, I remember the fear chasing me till it became a success. The situated repeated before Aa Naluguru. Also out of the two hundred odd films I have done, directors would come to me with a scene that I had tried and tested. I then saw a blank space, a question mark."
Rajendra Prasad created a brand for himself as a comedy hero when everybody wrote him off as an actor and flourished for many years in the top league. He recollects, "It was imperative to survive, flourish without imitating anyone. There were comedians earlier but keeping the crowd entertained for two and a half hours as a comedy hero was a challenge and I did it without showing any physical or mental flaws, limitations which was a typical characteristic of a comedian to evoke humour. I proved that you can create humour by looking good."
Isn't it true he lost money, he sold his house? The actor smiles and says that nothing can be hidden in this industry, he doesn't have an eye for money matters and trusted the wrong person in managing it. Rajendra Prasad adds, "When everything was gone a friend called me and enquired if it was true and said Ayyo Raja you lost everything, I had only one answer..that I didn't bring it along with me, it came to me because I worked. I'll work and get it back again.
If you think what you hoard is permanent then you are innocent. I keep telling my colleagues nalugu raallu venaka vesukondi andharu, nenu nalugu cinemalu vesukuntaanu..(you guys save some money, I will save some cinema) my wealth is cinema and that remains."
Rajendra Prasad is a sensitive person and thinks a bit too much. When he was a victim of backstabbing and politics he thought he would run away. Every lean period in his phase would usher a fabulous film that too without PR and socialising and he would bounce back. He has however one weakness which he terms it as strength.
"I'm mad about Vastu..you know how much I spent to learn it? I broke and built many houses in Chennai before moving here. I have faith in it and believe that there's nothing wrong in following it as long as you consider it a science and it helps you keep positive, gives confidence and strength. I don't go to extremes."
Ask him how he lost weight he shoots back, "It's a trade secret. Ravi Teja recently wondered if I had stopped at something. I said yes, I kept my films running and freezed my age..at 35. My work is my vitamins, my calories."