Rare insight into the making of Telugu movies back in the 1970s-1980s, the conversation, sprinkled with laughter and nostalgia, is endlessly fascinating for cine-fans. And of course, fans of iconic Indian actress, Sridevi.
For those who don't speak or understand Telugu, this is a gift from Deepti.
The show begins with the compère exclaiming, "The child star with milky cheeks [reference to one of Sridevi's films as a child star] turned into a heroine, when she was barely 16-years-old [again refers to the Telugu version of Solwa Saawan - Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu], she grew into a star with a film titled Vetagaadu, all by the director with the golden touch - R. Raghavendra Rao - and then she went on to become a heavenly beauty with Jagadeeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari. And today, to share the tale of her life journey with the director, in the presence of the director himself, coming in front of us for the first time... the first and foremost Indian Female Superstar... Sridevi Kapoor."
The famous song from the Telugu Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu plays in the background as Sridevi enters playfully, imitating her slow motion run in the original song.
Compère: Sridevi, a very very very warm welcome to you. I am totally speechless. In fact, I became motionless for a moment, looking at you and admiring you. And another thing , it is such a wonderful feeling that Sridevi is talking part in a Telugu show after so many years and speaking in Telugu.
Sridevi: Even I am not able to believe that I'm here! I too am speechless. Because I have done approximately 24 films with Raghavendraji. As far as I know, all were golden jubilees. 100 days functions used to happen often, but I never heard him speak. We used to wait in the functions, "Sir, talk a bit", but he never spoke. So I am very happy to come to this show, especially to hear him speak.
Compère: He has completed 50 years in the film industry. His films spoke a lot to us, they took us into many colorful worlds, gave us several beautiful songs. To inspire the future generations, to give them an insight into his expertise and help them by talking about his experience is why we made this episode of Soundarya Lahari
(To Sridevi) After forwarding your greetings to him, we will ask all that we have to.
(To Raghvendra Rao) Somehow sir, my attention is all going towards her.
Sridevi: Please ask.
Raghvendra sir laughs and says,"Let it [attention] go towards her only."
Compère: You are India's first and foremost female superstar, Srideviji...
Compère: And you will forever and ever remain that. On Facebook, twitter, what's app... we have been getting messages like, When are you bringing Sridevi to the show? Sridevi and Raghvendra Rao have done so many films together, she should come to the show and talk. So many fans are waiting for you to come and talk on this show...
Raghvendra Rao: Yes, everyday since this show started we have been getting messages asking about when Sridevi is coming.
Compère: Srideviji, first thing that comes to mind when we see you, not only are you a great actress, we all know that, but you are also a great human being. We respect you for that. That's why we are so happy that you are here.
Sridevi: I am so happy that Raghavendraji has called me here.
Compère: Sir, you have seen Srideviji's growth from a child artist to a superstar. Tell us about your equation with her.
Raghavendra Rao: In order to build a 60-storey building, you need a strong foundation. Similarly, unless there is a strong foundation, such a long journey of 24 films wouldn’t have been possible. For example, she was a child artist when I was an assistant director. Her house was also right in the back lane of our house. So visiting each others houses was common. Later, when she became a heroine from a child artist and changed her house, we have been invited whenever there was any occasion at her place, they are invited whenever there was any function at our place.
Sridevi: Its like a family...
Raghavendra Rao: And today, wherever they might be - may their souls may rest in peace - her parents were great human beings. Apart from seeing me as a director, they saw me as a family member too. They held me in such high esteem that they always used to ask if doing a particular film would be good or another one would be good for Sri…
Sridevi: We consulted him for everything…
Raghavendra Rao: Her mother was always focused towards making Sridevi a great star. I have witnessed many instances since her childhood, like her mother making her study on the sets during the gap between shots, making her sleep in between shots when she was tired. The assistant director waking Sri up gently when the shot was ready...
Like how an elder in the family feels happy when a child grows after his upbringing, I feel very proud about Sridevi. You will know many more things during our discussions ahead, I have a lot to tell. And thanks to Boney Kapoor, after marriage also, Boney gives me a special honour saying, “Sir, this is your house.”
Compère: Srideviji, I have to tell you something today. I keep saying on every show that I am only 16 years old, just 16 years old! But after seeing you here today, I suddenly feel so much older!
Sridevi: Ayyo, fine person you are…
Compère: You still look very very young and you look so beautiful!
Sridevi: Thank you, thank you.
Compère introduces Ram Gopal Verma as the director gives two reasons for his being in the show; one, his favourite director, Raghavendra Rao and two, his most favourite actress Sridevi.
Ram Gopal Verma (RGV) enters as the song from the film Govinda Govinda (the Telugu version of The Great Robbery with Sridevi and Nagarjuna) plays in the background. After greeting Raghavendra Rao and Sridevi, he sits next to Sridevi.
The compere welcomes RGV and congratulates him for the completion of 25 years of successful running of his movie Shiva on October 5. Both Sri and Raghavendra Rao applaud on hearing this as a song and visual is played from the said movie.
Compère: On the completion of 50 years in the film industry, the director who never speaks, is going to talk. Firstly, what is your reaction to this show?
RGV: When I was first called to this show, Raghavendraji asked me, but before that, my friend, Ravi also told me and I was like, “Raghavendra Raoji is speaking? What are you saying?” Because in any event or function, he normally comes or hands over a bouquet, says one or two words and leaves…
Sridevi: One, not even two…
RGV: Okay, two is too much, half…(Sri laughs) Like during the music launch or first song launch, he will just say ‘Launch’. I haven’t heard more than that. So, I wanted, at least, after such a terrific career spanning decades, his contribution to cinema will become historical with this show. This is what has made me feel happy.
Compère: What’s your reaction towards sitting next to Sridevi today?
RGV : When he called me, I was happy that I will get to sit in front of Sri and see her beauty…
RGV: But I feel cheated and am seated beside her. The camera angle is wrong. The only advantage of this is that in our combined frame, where I look very ugly in front of her beauty, her beauty gets even more enhanced in comparison to me. So thank you for that. At least, it is better in some way!
Compère: RGVji, what was your impression about the director and his movies before you yourself became a director?
RGV: Firstly, I never thought Raghavendra Raoji would speak, are you quiet here too?
Sridevi: No, no, he just spoke.
Hostess: He will speak here.
RGV: He will speak? Okay, okay, initially I thought so. Okay, okay, anyway. First, I got impressed by the versatility of his films, like his big commercial films like Adavi Ramudu, Vetagadu, and at the same time, he had sentimental stories like Jyoti, Amme Katha. This versatility inspired me most as a film watcher. And as far as I know, Raghavendra Raoji is the first director in Telugu film industry with the visual splendor and ability to take us from our everyday, run of the mill lives and take us into a fantasy world. It felt like stepping into heaven after buying his movie ticket. More than anything, me wanting to attain that kind of heavenly world was his biggest success. I am saying this as an audience member. So, that was one of the main motivating factors for me to become a director.
Compère: After being a director?
RGV: Now, after being a director, what happens is, the one who becomes a director has a feeling that he is better than everyone else. No one comes into the industry thinking that he is inferior. I am not saying that I thought that I was better than him. But what happens is by that time, you already develop a taste towards your own movies. Whatever I have taken from Raghavendraji’s movies, presenting a heroine, the entertainment factor, or others, after absorbing these elements, my own taste and sensibility evolves from that. So, I do not have the same perspective when I see his movies after becoming a director because that has become a part of me.
Raghavendra Rao: Like my combination with Sridevi, my most favourite film of Ramu, I even tell Ramu today, is Kshnam Kshnam. In that movie, I saw that as much as I know about how to picturize songs on Sridevi, Ramu also knows how to in equal measure. When you see those clippings, you will understand that catching those expressions, to make a song with Sridevi, she can give myriad expressions that has to be captured on film. In that matter, if we have to compare both our films with Sridevi… the song Jamu Ratri (from Kshnam Kshnam) was done solely focusing on her expressions.
(Sri laughs modestly)
RGV: Raghavendra Raoji once asked me to make a movie like Kshnam Kshnam again. I told him in order to make another Kshnam Kshnam, we need another Sridevi which is impossible. God, only once, when he was in a good mood, created one Sridevi...
RG: ...and all the women he created after that are super flops in my opinion.
Compère: You've said it…Everything about us… What he said is true. God creates very few with all the qualities…
RGV: Few? No, just one.
Compère: Oh, yes. Just one. He will hit me otherwise.
Sridevi: I am speechless Ramuji. I don’t know how to react…
RGV: I will not hit, but any disagreeing with that is foolish...
Compère: No. I agree.
Sridevi laughs out aloud along with others.
Compère (to Raghavendra Rao): When Sridevi was working as a child artist, you were an assistant director. Please share some incidents from that era.
Raghavendra Rao: In my father’s direction, we made a movie called Naa Thamudu. She was a child artist in that movie. I woke her up when she was sleeping at night, carried her in my arms…
Sridevi: One film…
Raghavendra Rao: By then Sridevi had done a lot of Malayalam, Tamil, Kanada and Telugu films as a child artist. We will see a song from this movie now. At that age itself, she gave us the idea of blowing India away.
Sridevi blushes hard: Ayyayoo…
Compère’s voice-over: Let’s see a song from the movie Naa Thamudu.
Raghavendra Rao: She enacted Nehru in the childhood itself. A very dangerous incident happened in her childhood. I will talk about it after seeing this clip.
A clip is shown where a young Sridevi comes running on the road and is hit by a speeding car.
RGV (stunned): What’s that? I didn’t understand.
Sridevi laughs: He didn’t understand.
Raghavendra Rao: We wouldn’t be sitting here today.
RGV: What was that? Did she fall after crossing the car? What…?
Raghavendra Rao: It hit her…
Sridevi: The car hit me and I fell.
RGV (shocked): It actually hit you.
Sridevi confirms: Actually…
Raghavendra Rao: Actually what happened was that my father handed over some scenes to us. He asked me to bring Sridevi’s running shots. I wanted to impress him, poor her, she used to do whatever I told her. She was a child...
Sridevi: This shot was taken on Mount Road, Madras, Mount Road.
Raghavendra Rao: They had fitted the lights just around that time.
Sridevi confirms: Ya, they put the lights then only.
Raghavendra Rao: My intention was to shoot it like English movies. I forgot everything about her being a child, the risk involved. The light turned green….
Sridevi: I remember. The director told me when I drop a hanky, come running towards me. So, like a horse who doesn’t see left or right, I kept looking at him, came running and that’s all I know. (Laugh)
Raghavendra Rao: She doesn’t know what happened after that. She fell down.
Sri laughs again.
Raghavendra Rao: I gave the signal by dropping the hanky. She fell and I could hear her mother screaming out loudly! I thought the police would arrest me, I'd go to jail...
Sridevi: When I was being taken for this shot, my mother wanted to come with me. He said that there was no need. I will carefully bring back your daughter and hand her over to you.
Raghavendra Rao: From there, I was very…
RGV: I didn’t understand. From where? I mean a car coming so fast…
Raghavendra Rao: We too didn’t expect…
RGV: No, did that car really hit her?
Both Raghavendra Rao and Sri confirm that it hit her.
RGV is shocked.
Raghavendra Rao (pointing to his ankle): This part got hit luckily. Just one second, if it would have been late even by one second…
RGV: I would have killed you.
Both Sri and Raghavendra Rao laugh out loud at RGV’s outburst.
Raghavendra Rao: You are a master at killing. Saw your Anukshnam a few days back. He keeps killing people with a stone.
Sri laughs out loud.
RGV: Even after knowing that she is alright now, I am shaken after seeing the clip. I can imagine what kind of a situation it would have been on the set that day.
Sridevi: He carried me all the way back.
Raghavendra Rao: I carried her in my arms, running all the way to her house. God bless you Sridevi. For the sake of industry and the audience, God diverted a major mishap.
Sridevi: All your blessings are with me.
Hostess: When did you feel that she will become a superstar?
Raghavendra Rao: During the filming of Padhahaarrellu Vaayassu! I have been watching all the films I've done with Sridevi, and while watching Sri’s scenes, I realized that we had done so many genres, so many varieties of roles. Let’s test Sri’s memory shall we? Which films do these clips belong to?
Clips are shown and Sri names all the films correctly barring one or two.
Compère: Srideviji once told us that her dream ended up being a dream. Let’s first see what she told us and later discuss what happened regarding that.
An old audio visual clip is shown where Sridevi is addressing the audience of Soundarya Lahari and she says, "My Namaste to the viewers of Soundarya Lahari. In the Indian film industry, a heroine-director combination has never had done more than ten films together. But, I and Raghavendra Raoji have made 15 films in Telugu and nine in Hindi, a total of 24 films together. If we do another film, we will complete a silver jubilee."
RGV laughs out.
Compère: So when is that 25th film coming?
Sridevi asks Raghavendra Rao: When sir?
Sridevi to Raghavendra Rao: Only you can say.
Raghavendra Rao: What do you want to do? When can we do another film together?
Sridevi: No one knows better than you sir.
Compère: Ramuji, you say. If a 25th film comes in the combination of Srideviji and Raghavendra Raoji, how should Sri’s get-up in it be and how should the story be?
Raghavendra Rao: If he produces and gives me a story, since he has so much admiration for Sridevi…
RGV: Sir, the problem here is that both of us have a different perspective of Sridevi. If I produce, I will be interfering, “No sir, change the shot, this, that...” and you will oust me from the sets! And Sridevi being diplomatic..
Sridevi: Will get struck in between!
RGV: She ill talk with me in my way, she will talk to you in your way and give rise to a fight between us. So better, you do your creativity and I do mine.
Raghavendra Rao: How should the story be then?
RGV: My point is that the uniqueness of Srideviji’s performance, especially after English Vinglish came, an extraordinary centralized character, a story revolving around her character, a larger than life persona, intimidating, awe inspiring it should be. Or else, a very relate-able character, where everyone should feel good to have such a character in their house whom they look up to, a very realistic heroine....
Raghavendra Rao (to Sridevi): Now, he has told how it should be, look at some of his ideas because he too likes you as much as I like you! In this show, we three…
RGV: I like her more than you. Don’t compete with me in this matter.
(Sri laughs out aloud).
Raghavendra Rao pleads to RGV: But I like her since childhood, Ramu…
RGV: But what about the degree of liking? Of course, after you showed her to us, we came to know about her. We came to know her through your movies. So obviously, you have the first right, but don’t compare it with my liking for her.
Raghavendra Rao concedes: Okay (and laughs out).
Sridevi: See how fortunate I am. Two great directors….
Compère: Now, we come to a unique segment of Soundarya Lahari – How should I describe it?
Let’s watch a scene from a movie that came in the combination of Raghavendra Rao and Sridevi.
A scene from Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu is shown.
Raghavendra Rao asks RGV: Have you seen Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu?
RGV: Me? How can you ask this? What do I look like? I saw this movie by missing out on my B.Tech Engineering exams, failing one year, I saw it 10 times! But the best scene is where Sridevi laughs in the film Devatha. A scene where Sridevi fakes a laugh in order to divert Jayaprada's attention. That, according to me is the best scene where Sridevi has laughed like no one else can.
The scene from Devatha is shown.
Raghavendra Rao: For other actors, in order to sustain the laughter for a long period, as they couldn’t do so on their own, we used to tickle them from behind and keep it a continuous shot without a cut. In her case, she would say, “I can continue laughing, no need to tickle me!” and she continued laughing for long.
RGV: My feeling is that from inside, Srideviji actually thinks that everyone is a joker.
Sridevi laughingly denies this.
RGV: But she acts while keeping a straight face and says, “Is it Raghavendra Raoji? Ramuji, how are you?”
RGV: And when it comes to laughing, her original personality comes out is what I believe.
Sridevi: What injustice is this? Fine person you are…Ramuji…Fine person…
RGV: Tell me the truth. Swear on God and say!
Sridevi: How did this thought come to you, tell me?
RGV: I know you, that’s how.
Sridevi laughs out: You are wrong.
Raghavendra Rao: One thing has come to my mind. When I had to remake a Tamil film, it was made extraordinarily by Bharatirajaji. The film starts with a woman waiting at the platform while the story is shown in a flashback and at the end, the man doesn’t come. It ends with a question mark whether he will come or not. I somehow felt it not right to end like this.
The Tamil film scene is shown.
Sridevi (in Tamil): In the end, it is just narrated that Chappane will come and give life to Mailu.
RGV asks for the meaning and she explains to him in Telugu saying that Chappane is the Kamal Hassan’s character and Mailu is her character.
Raghavendra Rao: A lot of dispute arose while remaking it in Telugu. Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan fought a lot with me.
The Telugu scene is shown.
RGV: I hadn’t seen the Tamil one earlier but after seeing it now, I feel this is far superior than the Tamil ending.
Sridevi: Yes, it feels like that after first seeing that.
Raghavendra Rao: What I felt was that the poor heroine should not be left waiting in the end. The audience would have been disappointed.
RGV: What I feel is you have extended the character, carried forward the disappointment that Bharathiraja created, turned it around and gave a relief to the audience, which is far superior.
Raghavendra Rao: The camera angles show the lady walking on the track, on the bridge, along the river. So the suspense is there all along – will she commit suicide on the tracks, jump from the bridge or drown in the river? The camera filters came newly then. I told Prakash that the colours of the sky should change suddenly, it should look colourful and very unique, which should keep the audience involved. Prakash refused saying that his guruji would scold him as to how the sky changed colours?!
Sridevi laughs out: How the sky changed colors?
Raghavendra Rao: You remember no? (Sri continues laughing aloud) Vincent is a decent guy but when we asked him to use trolley shots, he would say, "Why the trolley when we have legs?". We would manipulate him by saying that it would look imaginative on a trolley. Prakash was scared to use a filter to change the color of the sky. I pleaded with him to do it for my sake. We are changing the original ending, we have to enhance and dramatize.
RGV: That is cinema.
Compère: Now we spoke about the scenes in this segment but when it comes to this movie, we can’t help but talk about the song Sirimalle Puvva. You look so beautiful in that song, Raghavendraji has shot that song so beautifully. It is one of the evergreen songs in Telugu film industry. Even today’s generation remembers that song whenever they are asked about their life partner.
The song is shown.
Sridevi: Its taking us somewhere else. Flashback.
Raghavendra Rao laughs.
Sridevi: I remember one shot. I was made to lie on the top of a tree and it was full of ants.
Raghavendra Rao (in Tamil): Then, your age was 14 or 15?
Sridevi (in Tamil): 14 sir.
RGV: Let me understand too. Translate for me.
Raghavendra Rao: The name of the movie was 16 years but her actual age was 14 years.
Raghavendra Rao: Just 14 but had to be shown as 16?
Compère: Any more memories, Srideviji, regarding that song or the shooting?
Sridevi: No, but I have to tell about one specialty of Raghavendra Raoji. You have seen so many songs. The reason why the close-ups in all these songs look so fresh and so beautiful, it can only be done by Raghavendra Raoji. For instance, if there are 25 close-ups in a song, he will prepare a call sheet for morning seven-o-clock and ask the heroine to come on the dot. He will shoot all the close-up shots in a song at that time. So, for a heroine, it was a cakewalk. I mean, after shooting in the heat of Rajmundary or Vizag for a whole day, if then close-ups are shot, it was impossible to look fresh. He understood the problem of the heroines and finished all the close-ups by morning 7:30 and later, after having a great breakfast at 9:30, he will again start the mid-shot, then at the end of the day, train shots, long shots. So its really great working with him.
Raghavendra Rao: But I had to trouble the poor heroines early in the morning saying the close-ups will be good in the morning…
Sridevi: Who will think that much?
Compère: What trouble sir? The fact that heroines don’t look as good in other movies as they look in your movies is known to everyone. Before appearing in your movies, they look something and after working in your movies, they look different. So Srideviji has revealed to us the reason and facts as to why they look like that.
RGV: Can you please give me too a second prize? If you give all the available prizes to him, I too have made two movies with her.
Sridevi: I looked beautiful in those movies too.
RGV: In those movies too, she looked good, at least a few people have said so. Everyone has complimented him, few people have complimented me. Do not throw me away like that.
Sridevi laughs hard in the background. So does the compère.
Raghavendra Rao: Everyone…
RGV: Sir please. At least, you somewhat, even if you don’t accept, she has already said that there are no worthy directors except you.
RGV: You said just now. (Sridevi laughs out loud) You said three times that no one can do it except Raghavendra Rao. I am crying here.
Sridevi (laughing uncontrollably): I said three times?
Raghavendra Rao: At the start itself, I said that only you can equal me in directing Sridevi.
RGV: But she is not saying that no? You said it!
Raghavendra Rao: We are saying it towards end.
Sridevi: Without words… it is understood without saying.
RGV: That’s what I said earlier - her diplomacy!
Sridevi continues laughing.
Compère: In the movie Kshnam Kshnam, she was wearing only one costume throughout the movie…
Sridevi: See…impossible…Haan…To make a heroine…
Hostess: Maintaining that, you created songs according to the situations…
RGV: I don’t want consolation prize.
All the other three laugh out loud.
RGV : She already said, either give me a first prize or ask me to get out. But, I don’t want any consolation or third, fourth prizes.
Compère: We are not giving any prizes. All belong to directorji.
Raghavendra Rao: We will share..
Sridevi (repeats laughing): Share…
Raghavendra Rao: 50-50.
RGV: In the movie Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu, she sustained the close-up for so long. Obviously, Srideviji had little experience at that time. She might have done one or two in Tamil, I don’t know, but sustaining the emotion for such long time in the close-up with such little experience is not a joke. After knowing, that her man had not come…
The scene is shown.
Compère: So after Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu, one strange thing happened. What that strange thing was, we will talk about it after seeing the visual.
A song from an old film of Sri as a child artist is shown.
Compère: In this movie Badipanthullu, Sridevi enacted N T Ramaraoji’s granddaughter and later you cast her as a heroine opposite him. How did this idea come to you?
Raghavendra Rao: I had already made Padhahaarrellu Vaayasu with Sridevi by then.
Compère: But this image of a granddaughter remains no?
Raghavendra Rao: Yes, a conflict arose regarding that. First, you ask Sridevi, how she accepted.
Sridevi: I was shocked. I couldn’t believe at first.
Raghavendra Rao: You too Ramu. Even when you are confident, the producers are against you. Against means they were like: ‘Who will inform Ramaraoji? You are suggesting this but there will be chaos, audience will not accept. How can they accept if you cast someone who played his granddaughter as his heroine in the film after? Who will go and tell him? He will beat with a stick!
The producer worried at this level even though he was very sincere and had a liking for me. I told him, let’s try it once. I approached Ramaraoji. He asked, “Yes brother, what brings you here?” “Sir, I will tell you after the shot is over.” He said, “It’s okay, tell me now as you are already here.” “Nothing, a discussion has come up regarding the heroine of your film.” “What are you thinking?”
Raghavendra Rao: I am thinking of Sridevi. He said, “Okay. So, what is the problem?” Well, she was your granddaughter and her age is only 14. So… Ramaraoji said, “I too am 14 no.”
Sridevi laughs out loud.
Raghavendra Rao: Sridevi got big appreciation for her acting and her glamour. The film became a silver jubilee hit. Everyone said that she looked very glamorous. I wanted to take that glamour to stardom. In this movie, she was cast opposite Chandramohan. To attain stardom, N T Ramarao was at the pinnacle of stardom then. I too had this selfishness of pushing Sridevi up by 10 steps.
I had worked with Jayaprada and others. Firstly, I had to change the heroine and I thought in order to portray sophisticated glamour and varied get ups, Sridevi would be correct. My idea was to shoot a song in the beginning, edit it and show it to the producers. Since it was a three-month journey, Sridevi will gain confidence, all others would gain confidence and if there were any mistakes, we can rectify them. So, I first shot a song. Let us see that song now.
The song is shown.
Sridevi: I didn’t at all look like my age of 14. That credit goes to Raghavendra Raoji entirely. That get up, the selection of the saree, the hairstyle, every detail, I remember, he took great interest. Since, I was his responsibility, he took care of my every get up in that movie.
RGV: There’s one song in Govinda, Govinda – Ammo bramho devundo, compa munchinavvu ro, regarding Sridevij’s beauty. Now this song we saw from Vetagadu. In those days, there was a 10-second gap when a reel changed to the next. Due to some technical problem, it used to happen most of the times those days in the theatres. When I was seeing this movie in the Meera theatre, this song just got over and there was this 10-second gap after that. In the total silence that ensued, someone from the audience shouted, “I salute the feet of the one who gave birth to you!”
Raghavendra Rao laughs out loud. Sridevi smiles shyly.
RGV: The entire theatre clapped to that! I recounted this incident to Sitaram Sastryji while discussing a song for Govinda Govinda. I told him, “I want the kind of emotion from that man who shouted from the audience had, in this song.” That is when he came up with the song Ammo bramho devundo, compa munchinavvu ro.
The song is shown.
RGV: So you see if you hadn’t shot the song like this in Vetagadu, the man wouldn’t have shouted from the audience, the idea wouldn’t have come to me, Sastryji wouldn’t have written that song…
Sridevi laughs out loud.
RGV: So everything is a chain link. Nothing happens haphazardly!
Compère: By the time Moasagadu released, there was a craze for Srideviji. People may have hated her or disliked her, but that craze was there where seats were torn in order to get tickets. And at such time, you gave her a negative character. Please say about those two characters…
Raghavendra Rao: You should answer this Sridevi.
Sridevi: Why sir?
Raghavendra Rao: The one regarding the negative character. Do you remember?
Sridevi: You recount sir. I don’t remember.
Raghavendra Rao: Ramu, when an artist has a desire to... She had done so many roles since childhood, even done different characters after she grew up. One day, casually she said, for the first time I saw a heroine ask... In those days in Madras, we used to say Machi Macha…
Sridevi repeats: Machi, Macha…
Raghavendra Rao: She said, “I want to do a negative role in a movie.” I asked, “What Sridevi? A
negative role?” “All my roles have been the same. I want to do a negative role.” Then I got the idea of a double role. Because, if Sridevi plays a negative role, you just know the audience would kill me!
Sridevi: But I want to say one thing. Why I could ask Raghavendra Rao so bravely was that he was a director who could make even a negative character get sympathy. I can’t think of going to and asking any other director…
RGV is hurt once again and the compère laughs.
Sridevi (to RGV): Sir, you had not arrived then.
RGV: You are again saying… I got the point.
Sridevi laughs out loud: Ammo…
RGV: See his happiness. Srideviji, see Raghavendra Raoji’s happiness.
Sridevi: So, I know I can’t ask any other director so bravely, so I will ask him. So, out of that courage, I asked the director. I had great faith in him...
Raghavendra Rao: The film was a remake but the original didn’t have a double role. We added the backtrack and showed the reason for the negative character is to get her sister married into a good family. So she gets sympathy in the end. I added this only because she asked for it. And there’s this song between Sridevi and Chiranjeevi which is also very good.
Compère: So the song exists, such a character exists because you asked, the story was because of the character, the film came about because of the story... So let’s see a clip from the said movie.
The clip is shown.
Raghavendra Rao: This song is also very good.
Sridevi: Yes very. I was talking about these close-ups only. I remember very well. All the close-ups, you had shot early in the morning.
Compère: Ramuji, which is your favourite among these two characters of Sridevi?
RGV: I never see characters, I only see Srideviji.
Raghavendra Rao laughs out loud.
Compère: Question cancelled. Let’s come to Justice Choudhary - another film of your combination. Let’s watch this funny scene with NTRji.
The clip is shown.
All of them laugh when the clip ends with Sridevi breaking a egg on her hand.
Compère: Are you still getting that smell from the egg on seeing that scene?
Sridevi: He was a very understanding director. He sent me off immediately after the shot. He said pack up.
Both Raghavendra Rao and Sri laugh remembering that shot.
Raghavendra Rao: It was very interesting with Ramaraoji. He generally never says pack up. He leaves only after we say pack up. Do you remember once in Ooty, for a song, he went into the waters first. He never liked winter much. “Get into the waters, Sridevi?” And you were going slowly, “Yes, I am coming, I am coming?” And he splashed you with full force into the water.
Both Sridevi and Raghavendra Rao start laughing aloud.
Raghavendra Rao: That was once and another time, he had to go somewhere and he threw you into a canal. Do you remember?
Sridevi laughs and says: Such things happened a lot.
Raghavendra Rao: It was a small canal. Heroine’s dress has gotten wet. How to shoot? So pack up.
Sri laughs out loudly once again.
Sridevi: And once, I was walking in front of his jeep…
Raghavendra Rao: Yes in Vetagadu...
Sridevi: The brake didn’t work and he hit me. It started bleeding. (Imitating N T Ramarao) No worries, go get the shot ready.
The clip is shown.
Compère: In the film Devatha, this scene moved the audience very much and now one feels that the audience wouldn’t have accepted it, if it would have been shot in any other way.
Raghavendra Rao: Two women loving the same man was very common in films. I had shot many with such themes. One film had come before Devatha and even after that, I made three or four fiilms with such themes. A scene will come where the two women have to reveal that they are in love with the same man. That’s a routine scene. So unless some gimmick is there, the performer or the audience already knows. Even the audience knows that both love the same man. That was written very normally. So after brainstorming over a week with the two, I got an idea. Let’s discuss it after seeing the scene.
The clip is shown.
Sridevi: I remember this shooting was done till two am. We did a reverse work of the coin idea of this scene later, so as not to introduce it suddenly in this scene. We used it earlier in the film where both are contemplating whether or not to go to a movie. Some scenes generate interest if delayed. Artists actually sit face to face. Movements…an artist moves to avoid certain faces. If told directly, they will react, they will know.
Raghavendra Rao: That’s why even in the panning shot when the man’s name is said…the camera focuses on Sridevi. I am very satisfied about this scene that every shot was calculated by me. Because, remaining silent in the beginning, the delay, the coin disappearing… audience knows what is going to happen, except the question as to who marries the man, rest all is known. So the scene is finished within four lines. This is the life of the movie. Sridevi, talking about some scenes like this…why we are talking in the programme is not talking whatsoever, but, with our memories, educating new students of film courses will be helpful to them. So, we are explaining certain things very clearly.
RGV: Yes, it’s the emotional context.
Raghavendra Rao: In this, the sound audible should be of laughter but there should be pain in the eyes.
Sridevi repeats: Yes, yes.
Raghavendra: I put a lot of effort in the night….I usually don’t shoot in the night.
Sridevi: Yes, I have never seen him shoot in the night.
Compère: Yes, he doesn’t even do this programme in the night.
Sridevi laughs out.
Sridevi: Even the music in this film is unbelievable, especially the background music.
Raghavendra Rao: When we visualize certain scenes, we can decide what music will play…
Sridevi: I remember when we were acting you were playing the music.
RGV: Music and also the camera movement emphasizes things. When Jayaprada finishes her dialogue, the camera goes to Sridevi’s face in a sharp zoom. So if we can do all that only if we already know the background music.
Compère: Previously, you spoke about the influence the song in Vetagadu had for a song in Govinda Govinda. Similarly, call it influence or coincidence, a scene in Johny Johny...
Raghavendra Rao: In Telugu, it is Adavi Simham.
Compère: as it is, is seen in Ramuji’s film.
RGV: Have I copied or what? I didn’t understand.
Compère: No. Let’s see it first.
Raghavendra Rao: Great people think alike.
Audio visual clip is shown where a scene in RGV’s film resembles a scene in Raghavendra Rao’s film.
Sridevi bursts out laughing.
RGV: I swear upon my mom, with Balaji as my witness, I haven’t seen this movie.
Sridevi continues laughing aloud.
Compère: That’s why the director said that great people think alike.
RGV: But I didn’t understand the context. Why was this shown here?
Raghavendra Rao: We both…
RGV (in a jovial tone and mood!): Is this to prove in front of Sridevi that I copy. It’s a conspiracy. Raghavendra Raoji, I came trusting you. You have hatched a conspiracy to lower me in front of Sridevi. You doing this is not at all right.
Sridevi keeps laughing heartily.
To be continued next Sunday, 9-11-2014, 9:30 pm on ETV