Monday, June 1, 2009

Manjula says Mahesh babu is a perfectionist

She belongs to one the most illustrious film families of Tollywood. With veteran actor Krishna for a father and current Tollywood heartthrob Mahesh Babu for a brother, it could have been easy for Manjula Swaroop to be overshadowed by their success. Yet, she has carved a niche for herself in the male dominated Telugu film industry. While her debut film Show bagged two national awards, Pokiri which was produced by her raked in more than Rs 60 crore and became the biggest hit of the year.

Manjula who has been producing films for six years has yet another unconventional film lined up — Kavya’s diary. The film has Charmee in the lead, and deals with the hardships of a working woman in an urban setting. But will a woman-oriented film work, especially since Tollywood has so far been dominated by hero-centric films? “Five years ago when I did Show, the Telugu audience was not ready for women-oriented movies. But more recently we’ve had films like Anasuya, Mantra and Arundati which did well at the box office,” Manjula says. The Telugu audience, she says, is probably ready for female oriented movies.

While Manjula has numerous hits to her credit, she feels that flops like Nani have helped her stay grounded. The sociology graduate now plans to remake James Bond with her brother in the lead.

While she is open to acting, she chooses parallel cinema to showcase her talent. However, when it comes to producing films, Manjula prefers to play it safe. “The audience here prefer entertainment. They can’t accept films where the hero is killed. They need a good potboiler. Even when Tamil films are remade in Telugu, the climax is altered to suit the audience taste,” she adds.

While it is common to see star sons turn actors in Tollywood, it is always different for the daughters. “In our society, daughters are more sheltered. Although I was offered lead roles, I had to turn them down due to objections from my father’s fans,” she reveals. Manjula who wanted to be a part of the film industry since the age of 15 was furious when she was told that fans looked upon her as a sister. “They didn’t want to see me in commercial cinema. We have to respect the audience’s sentiments, I guess,” she says adding that in retrospect she wouldn’t have been comfortable with acting in commercial films either.

Manjula, who has produced several films for her brother confesses that it is not an easy task. “When I am working with Mahesh, I have to be on my toes. He is a perfectionist. I discuss every story with him. When I am working with him, I just can’t relax,” she says.


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