conversation Milind Gunaji, the scheming tycoon in ‘Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum’, talks to sangeetha devi dundoo about his role and his passion for travel and tourism

Milind Gunaji had watched most of his peers living between Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore, dividing their time between Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada films. “I am the last one to join the gang, in terms of Telugu films,” he laughs, talking to us a couple of hours before he leaves for Mumbai. Shooting in the unpredictable October heat has left him sun burnt but he is a happy man. “It’s such a powerful role,” he says, referring to his character in Krish Jagarlamudi’s Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum .

A professional, systematic way in which the production team approached him bowled him over. “One fine day I got a mail from producer Rajiv Reddy stating that he and Krish have seen my work and would like me to be a part of their film. They had stated the number of days they wanted me to work and a brief outline of the character. I met them, liked the story and agreed,” says Milind. The actor had earlier enacted Krish Jagarlamudi’s part in the remake of Gamyam .

The first promo, unveiled a few days ago, shows snapshots of a folk theatre group that Rana is part of, glimpses of Rana in Dasavatar, a land mafia and people displaced from their land. “I am a tycoon and a land miner responsible for people’s misery. It’s a mistaken identity kind of a story. I don’t want to reveal much. My character is arrogant, loaded with money and always surrounded by security men and a fleet of cars,” laughs Milind, taking about his role as the villain in the film.

The film was shot in and around Hyderabad, Ramoji Film City and Padakkal, on the borders of AP, TN and Karnataka. As with any schedule, Milind was ready for changes in schedules and requirements of more dates. “Originally I was required to shoot for 15 to 20 days. It stretched to 32 days. I finished shooting on Wednesday; we shot an item song in my villainous den. My character’s name is Redappa,” he laughs.

Milind is not new to Telugu cinema. Years ago, he worked with Pawan Kalyan in Balu ABCDEFG . Language has never been a problem, he states: “I have worked in 150 films in different languages, so it’s never a problem for me. I understand what the director wants, learn the easier dialogues and take prompting for lengthy dialogues,” he says.

Think Milind Gunaji and films such as Virasat, Fareb, Zor and Zulmi come to mind immediately. His later films haven’t made an impact. “I’ve been doing quite a few films with some very good directors. People remember only those films that have gone on to become hits,” he says and then adds, “Come to think of it, I am not a full-time actor. I am a mechanical engineer and have been busy with my travel show on Maharastra, photography and books.” He was the brand ambassador for forest and wildlife of Government of Maharastra in 2008/09. He and Uddhav Thackaray have been part of several tourism projects. “Maharastra has more than 350 forts and I’ve visited all of them. Through my show, I try and bring in historical aspects of each of the forts,” he says.

When a good role comes calling, he switches over to showbiz. “I’ve gotten typecast as a villain. As and when there’s something significant, I take it up,” he says. Next, he will be seen in Ram Gopal Varma’s Shapat .

Beyond all this, he dreams of doing a travel series for National Geographic. “We were approached recently but I don’t have the time they require. But soon, I hope to take it up,” he signs off.

I am a tycoon and a land miner responsible for people’s misery. My character is arrogant, loaded with money and always surrounded by security men and a fleet of cars