‘A great human being and a real star’, is how the Telugu film industry recalls actor Srihari.
Every actor works hard to reach the next level and once they taste success, they change everything — right from their phone numbers to friends; in fact they feign ignorance of anything that reminds them of the past. With Srihari it was different; he was tenacious, he loved life, he lived it and shared it with every one he knew — from a school friend, to a press photographer, a budding politician, a struggling director et al. He helped people because he saw his past in them and knew that with a slight push, their dream could turn to a reality. His home may appear like a fortress but he was accessible to all, his beautiful Telangana dialect, his misty eyes, his affectionate hugs and many unpublicised charity activities made him a ‘Real’ Star. The mammoth crowd that followed his last journey from his home spoke eloquently of his popularity.
Aneesh Kuruvilla says it is a personal loss for everyone and terms his association with the actor as a humbling experience. His phone has Srihari’s profile picture as a mark of tribute to him. “The title ‘Real Star’ is apt for him because there are no two sides to the man. The kind of following he has in the small pockets of the city is incredible. I noticed that he had lost weight during the promotion of my film; I even mentioned it to him but he didn’t say anything. I can never forget those innumerable dinners I had with him and his wife. The fact that he played villain in my film speaks volumes of his love for his craft as he did this after he became a star hero.”
Nagu Gavara, a journalist-turned-budding director, is shattered; Srihari had agreed to be a part of his film and even financed it. That is the kind of encouragement he gave to people in whom he saw a spark. Nagu had only four days of shoot left with Srihari but he is not bothered, “I have lost a huge support, he was like a pillar for me. I have never seen him speaking ill of someone and he always saw the positive aspect of life.”
Producer M.S. Raju recollecting Nuvvosthanante Nenodhantana says Srihari was an emotional person, his eyes would turn moist whenever any particular dialogue touched him. What an irony it is to see his body lying in rest in the same place I narrated the story,” he laments. “I am too shocked to react more. I knew something was wrong but didn’t muster the courage to ask him. The last conversation I had with him was when he told me he was joining Prabhu Deva’s Hindi film shoot.”
Sreenu Vytla reminisces his work in Dhee and King. The actor and director had worked in both these two films ; he considers Srihari a close friend and a dynamic human being. “I always enjoyed working with him, he was supportive when Dhee was going through a financial crisis and predicted that it would be a definite hit. He remarked that I had gained a complete grip over his Telangana accent and body language and had exploited it well. He was affectionate to all junior artistes and mingled with all. I was planning something interesting for him in my next film. I always showed Srihari the way he was in real life on screen. The best scene according to me was in the film King when he takes his role as an artist seriously and paintsKing. Everyone talks about that scene even when I go abroad. He had a great sense of humour and is an irreplaceable artiste.”
Speaking to this writer, actor Srihari once said he had no complaints with life, “My wife was the only earning member in her family, she saw to it that everyone there were settled and I ensured everybody in my family were financially secure and only then we took the plunge to get married. My only obsession now is health and fitness.”
It is extremely sad that a man who was 24x7 fond of his fitness had to succumb to a liver disorder even before he turned 50.