Courting success in the unforgiving tinsel world with elan, Raja is set to climb new heights. He shares his thoughts with Y. SUNITA CHOWDHARY
Theatre is a wonderful place for people to see scenes enacted that might hit a chord with them. We don't have that kind of crowd and there's no encouragement Lot of things can happen over a cup of coffee. A compulsive coffee addict, Raja reels off his story while he helps himself with another cuppa. He lost his parents when he was young and all he has is some hazy but fantastic memories. His sisters fed and bathed him, sent him to school and now he feels it's his turn to pamper them. He's late for the interview as he was baby sitting his nephew. His debut film O Chinnadana is said to have reduced his well-wishers to tears but less than two years ago, he burst into the public consciousness when he starred, to great acclaim, in the award winning film, Anand. More recently, filmgoers have known this 27-year-old as feisty actor. In real life too, he is warm, bubbly and witty. His broad smile and impish sense of humour are never far away. He says, "I'm just not happy with the work I'm doing. I'm competing with myself to stand out in this given space and to stay afloat to be noticed in this industry. A few years down the lane I will definitely direct. But wait, there's one lovely film coming out with me, Bhumika and S.P. Bala Subramanyam."
He adds, "I'm going to start shooting for a digital film. It's going to be for seven days, I need an international audience. I'm open to every genre of cinema and would love to experiment. I'm not looking for stardom, that doesn't last. I want substance in the film, I don't want to be categorised, don't want to be stuck in an image,I want to be known as an actor, a good one. Period. At the end of the day, my goal is to be internationally recognised."Raja has a stint in theatre but laments that Hyderabadis prefer entertainment on a large scale. "Theatre is a wonderful place for people to see scenes enacted that might hit a chord with them. We don't have that kind of crowd and there's no encouragement." Nevertheless he is happy fending for himself and his family. I was spotted by Ramanaidu after my first interview in a newspaper and after my first film, I never had to look for work." The words tumble, with a firm-jawed determination, as he says: "I had no expectations. I was very confident that I would make it in life. My only ambition was to improve myself and I taught myself a lot of things. I will never be satisfied with my position in this industry. I never want to be. I want to evolve, expand and go deeper within myself."
Raja says it's an incredibly gratifying and joyous experience to see people truly enjoying themselves and understanding the importance of a 'feel good' film...Anand. "Shekar Kammula is one person who has made his film with passion and has put his soul into the movie. And his dream materialised and inspired me."So does he have a girl friend? He guffaws, "I have a family that I need to support. My struggle has been hard and I know the pain. There are times you get carried away when you meet a girl but later you realise she is not the one for you. I treat my heroines as co-stars. I treat them as professionals. When I meet a girl of my choice, there will be a straight talk, no beating around the bush. I have my priorities right."Great screen actors underplay. Bad screen actors overplay. Raja is one of the many genuinely effective actors. While he delivers his lines with effortless charm and perfect timing, it's his humane qualities that impresses the public. Always and consistently open, Raja hardly maintains a veneer when it comes to the public. He is into a lot of unpublicised charity. The actor wants to live a 100 years and make lot of money to do something for the underprivileged, but somewhere there is a hidden fear that time is running out and he needs to do his bit, and fulfil his responsibility. But ask the unit boy in his film who broke his limb and got immediate aid. Raja is certainly travelling towards his destination.