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Redefining friendship

Rahul Ramakrishna  

From a side-kick who is slapped regularly to a friend who brings balance to the main lead in Arjun Reddy…the ‘friend’ in Telugu cinema has evolved and how! Rahul Ramakrishna who played Shiva in Arjun Reddy is endearing, with a distinct appeal.

Rahul got plum footage and he grabbed the opportunity to add value to his character and also entertain the audience in his own inimitable style. His counsel to his sinking friend is witty and wise; even as he curses helplessly, you can feel his concern He has no qualms telling Arjun , “Making friendship with you is like urinating on yourself”.

So has the staggering box office collection impacted his life? Not really. The plain-speaking actor deflects the encomiums with humility and says life is pretty much the same as he recovers from a bout of fever. “I can actually use the word ‘break’ for Arjun Reddy. I had done Sainma by Tharun Bhascker earlier and then worked in Jayammu Nischayammu Raa. A few film personalities called to appreciate my work after Arjun Reddy’s release but no offers have poured in. I lost my father a couple of weeks back and things are all not that well. There is no power, water supply is irregular, am waiting for money, bills to be paid and mouths to be fed. Life has not changed actually.”

An engineering student who dropped out in the final year, Rahul struggled to keep himself afloat. “I wasn’t cut out for engineering. I quit after dragging it for four years. I began workingto fend for myself and did odd jobs like data entry operations and writing reviews for websites. I worked in a couple of newspapers and joined an NGO where I got to work with Dalits, Adivasis and marginalized farmers. Later I was introduced to Forum Theatre and during one such workshop, I was initiated into acting.”

Acting was accidental. He recollects, “Tarun made Sainma when I was involved with the NGO. Rahul’s interaction with people in Srikakulam, Adilabad and the coastal belt, helped him pick up their diction by observing their lifestyle.

He is also a dialogue writer and a lyricist who wrote dialogues for Jayammu Nischayammu Raa and the song ‘Merise Merise in Sainma. “I began writing dialogues and lyrics to supplement my income. I wrote three songs for Pelli Choopulu. I was introduced to Sandeep Vanga outside his apartment when he was chatting with Vijay, that’s how all this happened. Prior to college, I had worked with small theatre groups as a back stage worker; never had an opportunity to work on stage. ”

In Sainma, Rahul has a best buddy and in Arjun Reddy, he is a loyal friend to the hero. So, what is his understanding of friendship in cinema? He avers, “It is a very Indian film making perspective of translating human relations on screen unlike world cinema where all characters are distinct and not centred around the hero as much. But what we see of Japanese and Iranian cinema is that every character is independent of each other and also dependent on each other. In Indian cinema the hero always needs to be bolstered by a friend, lover, a granny or a villain. It is a symbiotic relationship,without the hero they are not distinct. That’s my understanding of cinema.”

He elaborates, “ In Arjun Reddy, we are childhood buddies, share memories and land in the same college; our families know each other. That is why I take the liberty to deride him and he does it too. Except in one situation I snap at him and he uses his force as well. It’s a loyal and unconditional friendship.”

WithPelli Choopulu, Fidaa and Arjun Reddy, Rahul is happy that Telangana cinema is growing. He quips, “I hope we also have Rayalaseema and Uttarandhra film governance, cinema too has to be decentralized and the more local it is the better quality it will have.”

Talking about the cuss words in Arjun Reddy, he says, “It is a product of circumstances. When things gets stale someone has to do something. It is only the language that shocked, it challenged social and film making norms. People are saying it’s bold content. Anyway, nudity and expletives alone don’t sell, it has to be accompanied by strong content. Characters have to be independent of the shock value or masala that drives people to the theatre. However, I am a novice and my word shouldn’t be taken for an expert opinion.”

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Printable version | Sep 13, 2021 10:13:53 PM |

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