December 05, 2010 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
A tete-a-tete with Venkatesh and you are treated to matters ethereal. Box-office figures, staggering remunerations and even the titles of his previous films sound all Greek to him, he is clearly disinterested in his achievements and his future plans. "I have no plans, no ambitions, am just living the moment, this is what I learnt from my masters," declares the artist who is turning fifty next week.
He's made peace with himself, found bliss and calmly goes about his profession with balance, moderation, discipline. One doesn't have to go to the Himalayas; follow a middle path, become a very successful person, earn money and have a wonderful family and at the same time realize your true self, which is the highest service opines the actor.
Paruchuri Gopalakrishna, writer who has been associated with the actor in his debut movie Kaliyuga Pandavulu and has seen him grow as an actor and a human being says his spiritualism is real. In his twenty five year association, he'd never seen or heard Venkatesh speak ill of anybody's film or the film's prospects, there was never an idle banter. He avers, "Puvvu puttagane parimalisthundi, look at his work in Adavari Matalaku Ardhale Verule, any other star in his place would have been a clear misfit."
The actor takes permission from his director during shootings and when he is not wanted in the scenes, he does yoga and meditates, all this has brought a sense of calm and ability to see the world from an alternative perspective.
Venkatesh is in focus for his upcoming film Nagavalli. He had seen the Kannada version with no baggage on his mind and enjoyed it thoroughly imagining himself in the role. Even if you haven't seen Chandramukhi, you'd be able to comprehend the narrative and what appealed to him is that it begins very fresh. He also observed that children had been watching it on television repetitively for reasons beyond the super natural element, and content and felt he could give it a distinct touch as it is a straight Telugu film.
He met Rajinikanth and the latter advised him to just be himself. Surprisingly Venkatesh admits that there isn't one film in his career that he can name which has stretched his creative energies to a challenging level.
The actor had in all his films never succumbed to excess despite the frothy romantic pirouettes, lot of padding and dangerously dominating comedians. Always faithful to the screenplay, he held his own and seduced the audiences with his melodrama. One is secretly amused by his comic timing in certain films and is dazzled by his capacity for changing his body language to be in sync with certain characters.
It is a fact that the success ratio of Venkatesh is 80 to 90 percent in the industry, he has an amazing clarity of what he wants, and why he is doing a particular cinema and for which section of the audience he is doing it. Everytime he wanted to reinvent himself he did fail with certain projects; some of them fetched him Nandis and critical acclaim but they pushed back his image and career in the market. Venkatesh opines those scripts were badly designed and started off with lot of unhappiness from the beginning stage.
Like Sobhan Babu, he has an amazing following amongst the middle class families and his films Chanti, Lakshmi, Sankranti, Namo Venkatesa, Suryavamsam, Sundarakanda, Vasantham, etc., vouch for it.
He revels in playing a role that has an entire family, girl friend, friends misunderstanding him and towards the end all of them realising their mistakes and elevating him as the nice guy. This has become a formulaic and a safe bet but has proved to be his trump card. The stories, themes change in his films but the emotions remain strong. Venkatesh says such projects weren't planned but nevertheless he looks at it as a business, such content is imperative when so much money is involved, and safe production and budget wise.
Containing budget in home productions, understanding the people's pulse and market and smart business strategies have ensured Venkatesh's success, despite the steady career graph for 24 years he remains modest and silent about his achievements. He does his work and disappears after the release to his nest. His life is very simple, likes spending time at home and as he says this he bids adieu to Selvaraghavan who'd come to narrate a fresh line.
Venkatesh adds, "The other day I was watching 'Adavari Matalaku..' on television, and felt it was honestly and sincerely made. The director brought out the emotions between the father and son really well!"