FRIDAY REVIEW

Game for anything

M.L. NARASIMHAM

BLACK OR WHITE Gopichand has excelled in both

BLACK OR WHITE Gopichand has excelled in both  

Very few actors have this kind of a transformation. Starting their career as a lead man and then taking up villain roles with aplomb and returning as a successful screen hero - all in a span of just five films. Gopichand is a case in point. Four years ago, the debutant made his entry with a boy-meets-girl story (Tolivalapu) but changed track and sprang a surprise with his spine chilling performance in a negative role, in Jayam, a super hit.

He has followed it up with Nijam and Varsham, again a huge hit. When offers poured in for similar roles, not willing to be type cast he returned to playing the hero, this time with much success in Pokuri Baburao's Yagnam. The choosy actor after a year of its release is coming up with one more power packed love story Andhrudu.

Andhrudu introduces the audience to a new environment. The theme is partly set in Bihar. "It was a gruelling experience to sczhoot in the interior villages of Bihar where after dusk no one dares to step out. We shot there for over a week, in Patna, at the crowded railway station and in the nearby villages. Contrary to the general belief, the film is not a faction fare or total action flick. It is a love story set in a different backdrop and identifiable," says the young actor who has just returned home from a shooting stint for his latest flick, Ranam. He adds that the couple of action scenes in Andhrudu were shot in a realistic fashion. "They look very natural like you see them sometimes in real life." He said that the director Paruchuri Murali is a perfectionist and is not satisfied till the output is what he had visualized in the script stage. "Vijaya Kumar's camera sets the right kind of mood with a n innovative lighting pattern."

But how did he achieve the transformation from a hero to a villain and then a hero? "It is simple. My first film flopped. I wasn't getting offers. Then came an offer from Teja to do a villain. He is a good director and has churned out big hits. So I accepted. Once you are successful similar offers pour in. I do not want to be type cast. At this juncture, I got an offer to play the lead man in Yagnam. It clicked and here I am," smiles the unassuming actor. But he is aware that success doesn't come easily these days. The audience is receptive only to well-made films. "Today's audiences are different. They appreciate a film only if it offers something new. Something they haven't witnessed before. Something that gives them a fresh feel. Otherwise they reject it. So today one has to be very careful in choosing the right script. That explains why I am doing less number of films." When Jayam was remade in Tamil, Gopichand was a natural choice to re-enact his role.

The film went on to become a box office hit. "Offers came my way. But most of them are in the same mould. I couldn't accept them. But I regret missing the Tamil remakes of Okkadu (Gilli) and Varsham (Mazhai) as I was locked up with my Telugu assignments."

The mechanical engineering graduate from Don State Technical University, Rustov-On-Don in Russia likes to be known as a natural performer and follows the Stanislavsky school of acting. "At the beginning of my career, I was advised not to practice before a mirror, for you never know your mistakes. Instead, I enacted the scenes before my sister and she would say whether I am overacting or just adequate," reveals Gopichand about his first tryst with acting. An admirer of S.V. Rangarao, Amitabh Bachchan, Al Pacino and Robert De Nero, Gopichand's ambition is to play an anti-hero. "The kind of roles Amitabh Bachchan had played in some of his early blockbusters. Such roles with a negative touch in the first half and then a change of heart in the climax are not only challenging but win the audience sympathy and appreciation too," laughs the six-footer. It is time for him to leave for the shoot. As a parting shot he says, "Andhrudu is an entertaining romantic tale with a slick narration set in a new ambience and not an action flick." Just to drive home the point.