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Exclusive Interview : Ashta Chamma hero Srinivas – Comedies fail because of bad writing

Srinivas-Avasarala

Srinivas Avasarala made a strong impact with his debut film ‘Ashta Chemma’. He has immense talent and his comedy timing is good. But somehow, true stardom still eludes him. The budding actor is gearing up for the release of ‘Aravind 2’ and he has high hopes on the movie. Read on to see what Srinivas Avasarala had to say about ‘Aravind 2’ , about working in the industry and about the choices he makes as an actor. He also made some interesting observations about the ‘commercial cinema vs art cinema’ divide.

Q. How did Aravind 2 happen ?

A. After ‘Ashta Chemma’ happened, I did not want to act in comedies for a while. I was looking out for some different roles to challenge myself and that was when Sekhar Suri narrated this script to me. I play the role of a film director in the movie and I set out to shoot a film in the Dandeli forest. We face some unexpected situations there and the film is a suspense thriller based on those situations.

Q. You are acting in a horror/thriller for the first time. How difficult or different was it compared to acting in comedy films?

A. I found it a little difficult to get into the groove for the first three days. But I got used to it and Sekhar Suri conveyed what he wanted very clearly.

Q. What genres do you prefer? Comedies/Serious films/Thrillers?

A. There is nothing like comedy if it works. It is very tough to write good comedies. The reason most comedies fail is because of the writing and rarely because of the acting. If a script has the potential, I love acting in comedies. Comedy is very vital these days. If you take the biggest superstars in any industry – be it Amitabh in Bollywood, Chiranjeevi in Telugu or Rajinikanth in Tamil, they are all very good at comedy.

Q. Everyone agrees that you are a very talented actor. But you don’t seem to be getting the recognition you deserve. How do you feel?

A. I don’t feel disappointed because it is partly my decision too. I don’t like to be a momentum actor (smiles). Last cinema hit ayndhi kabatti ventane oche films ni cash cheskovali ane concept kaadhu naadhi. If I accept films that way, I will not have any control over my career. I don’t want to be slotted or typecast into a mould. Even if things go a little slow, it is fine.

Q. What kind of directors do you enjoy working with?

A. I like working with people who are passionate and have a plan. For example, I really enjoy working with Gunnam Gangaraju. When I work with people like that, I know what to expect from the movie and what they want from me. These days, filmmaking is being taken for granted by some directors. They go onto the sets without even a script. Unless they have a clue about what they want from me, I will be clueless and the project will go for a toss.

Q. What do you look for when you choose a script?

A. I look for things that excite me and roles which are at least a little different from what I’ve done in the past. For example, there is Mohan Krishna’s film where I play the role of a village guy who gets married as a kid. That film has come out really well and my character is very different.

Q. Did you find something similar in ‘Aravind 2’ ?

A. Yes. I learnt quite a lot as an actor in this movie. During this stage, it is important for me to challenge myself with different roles. Manam raka rakala characters cheygalam ani prove cheskotam chala important. People will see a different Srinivas Avasarala in this film. I learnt a lot from Kamal Kamaraju and Sekhar Suri. Kamal is a very talented actor and he is brilliant on screen in this film. When Sekhar Suri first narrated the script, I was bowled over by his visualisation and his intensity. He is a very passionate director.

Q. You shot extensively in a remote forest for this movie. Would you say that this is your toughest assignment as an actor?

A. There are no difficult roles for an actor. The more challenging a role is, the easier it will be for an actor to perform since we will pay more attention and do some homework. Physically, yes, this is one of the toughest assignments for me as an actor.

Q. Any scary experiences during the shoot ?

A. Yes, there was a scene where I needed to run away from a psycho and jump into the river. I know swimming but I never swam in a river before. When I jumped in, I was weighed down by the cargo pants, jackets and shoes. I was about to drown and I frantically called for help. But no one understood my cries for a while. The camera boat was also quite far ahead. Luckily for me, some people in the team finally understood my situation and they came to my rescue. The rivers in Dandeli are also infested with crocodiles. So yes, there were some scary moments.

Q. You don’t seem to be very inclined towards commercial cinema…

A. Mohan Krishna garu keeps saying one thing “Everyone makes movies according to their own sensibilities. There are no commercial and non commercial films”. Any film producer should make money. I don’t believe in the concept of a film winning a national award but the producer going bankrupt. I try to act in good films, but at the end of the day, I want my producer to make money. Prathi cinema ki 1Cr pedithe 10 Cr ravakkarledu. But atleast 1Cr pedithe 1Cr ayna venakki ravaali.

Q. Apart from acting , what other disciplines excite you?

A. I have a screen writing background and I am film school student. I was a ghost writer for a few films but I can’t reveal their names. I also wrote the first version of ‘Golconda High School’ and you will find my name in the credits. I have a couple of scripts ready.

Q. You come from a non-filmy background. Is your family comfortable with your professional career ?

A. My mom is still not happy with my decision. She keeps saying “Why don’t you lead a normal life?”. Security is what they think about. I came back from the US and I lead a very stressed life. They are not happy with that. I did my schooling in Bharathi Vidya Bhavan in Hyderabad.

Q. How did you enter the film industry?

A. I have always been passionate about films. I went to acting school in the US and I was looking out for opportunities. I used to track casting calls in the industry and send a DVD across to them with my portfolio. The team of ‘Ashta Chemma’ came across the DVD and picked me for the role.

Q. You are a Hyderabadi. So are you a foodie?

A. (Smiles) No. I am not a foodie. I prefer simple food, like Dal chawal. I don’t like to prepare food for 3 hours for a 10 minute meal.

Q. Who is your source of inspiration?

A. In my personal life, my brother is my source of inspiration. I am very close to him and I know that he will always be there for me. In the industry, I like Mohan Krishna. Our wavelengths are on the same page.

Q. Anything you would like to tell viewers?

A. ‘Aravind 2’ is releasing tomorrow so go and watch it. We put in a lot of work and I believe that the film will be good. Go watch it and let us know how you like it.

With that, we winded up our conversation with Srinivas Avasarala. Let us wish him the very best for ‘Aravind 2’.

Interviewed by Mahesh S Koneru

Click here for Telugu Interview

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