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Sree Vishnu: The father-son bond in ‘Gaali Sampath’ is unique

Rajendra Prasad and Sree Vishnu in the film   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Telugu film Gaali Sampath, scheduled to release on March 11, stars veteran actor Rajendra Prasad in the title role and Sree Vishnu as his son. “We’ve seen several films where the father chides the son for being a julayi (aimless, drifter), but in this film, there’s a role reversal of sorts,” says Sree Vishnu. The actor has had the knack of choosing slightly unconventional films within the mainstream space and Gaali Sampath, he says, is no exception.

The promotions leading up to Gaali Sampath’s release have just begun and Vishnu takes time out to speak in between shooting for a new film, an untitled cop story which he terms as “semi biopic”.

Gaali Sampath was launched in November 2020 and Vishnu remembers being a tad surprised when he first received a call from filmmaker Anil Ravipudi, whose associate S Krishna had written the story: “Anil Ravipudi is known to work with A-list star heroes and takes up mainstream projects. So I was wondering what he had in store for me and whether I would fit in. I was impressed with the story which showcases the father-son bond and at the opportunity of acting with Rajendra Prasad sir.”

Satya, Sree Vishnu and Rajendra Prasad

Satya, Sree Vishnu and Rajendra Prasad   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In this film directed by Ravipudi’s associate Anish, Rajendra Prasad loses his voice following an accident but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams, which includes acting. With the veteran actor on board, the film unit decided to shoot away from Hyderabad, abiding by COVID-19 safety protocols: “The initial plan was to finish shooting within 35 days but it took us 55-60 days,” says Vishnu.

He says it took three to four days to be at ease in the presence of Rajendra Prasad on the sets: “There’s so much to learn from him. I kept observing him and towards the end of the film, I think I’ve imbibed five to 10% of his techniques, which I have begun to incorporate while acting for my new films. I can sense the difference in my approach.”

When Sree Vishnu began acting a little more than a decade ago, he knew he had to carve his own path. He looked for unconventional stories and over the years when his films worked and he got noticed for consciously choosing to do something new, aspiring directors began approaching him with new stories: “It all happened step by step, from the days of Prema, Ishq, Kaadhal. Mental Madhilo, Needi Naadi Oke Katha and Brochevarevarura all helped my journey and that of the respective directors,” he says.

Born out of necessity

What made him steer clear of predictable subjects? “There was a time in the mid-1980s when Telugu cinema had films by Rajendra Prasad, Bapu and Jandhyala with realistic stories. The earlier Chiranjeevi films also fall into this category. In the 90s, our films got more commercial and mainstream, with the emergence of ‘mass’ heroes. When I wanted to become an actor, I knew my strengths and limitations. I wasn’t sure if I could do what the top stars were doing in ‘mass’ films. That drove my choices. I wanted to establish myself as an actor.”

While in college, he watched a number of films. When he chanced upon 7G Rainbow Colony (Tamil; 2004), it left him shaken and changed his perspective to cinema: “I then watched the director’s (Selvaraghavan’s) previous films as well,” Vishnu remembers.

He’s glad that directors now approach him without hesitation when they have something off the routine: “I enjoy that too. It helps to explore different genres and challenge the actor in me.”

During the lockdown, there were several offers for web series and digital platforms. Despite the uncertainty over theatrical releases, Vishnu says he held back since he had already committed to a few films prior to the pandemic: “All through lockdown, we planned how we would execute the films once things get better. So far, everything has been going on smoothly,” he says.

He has finished shooting for Raja Raja Chora, in which he plays a small-time thief and is nearly done with Arjuna Phalguna, set in the Godavari belt: “A few more projects are in the pipeline,” he says.

Reverting to talk about Gaali Sampath which will take on Jathi Ratnalu and Sreekaram at the box office, Vishnu is confident that the four-day long weekend will help bring the audience to the theatres: “All three films are of different genres, so I think there’s enough room for everyone.”

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 5:22:17 PM |

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