Actor Adivi Sesh will soon be seen in Major. It will release on June 3. Based on the life and bravery of the late Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, it is directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka and produced by Sony Pictures Productions GMB Entertainment and A+S movies. The Free Press Journal caught up with Adivi for a chat. Excerpts:
What encouraged and enabled you to show Major to the audiences?
We were blessed by Major Unnikrishnan, first of all. But I have something way new to tell you. A few days ago, we screened the film for Saiee Manjrekar’s family and friends, Sajid Nadiadwala’s family and so many industry folks. There is this perception while in the industry, you go to premiere every Friday is part of your life as this is what you do. You are not swayed by a film like the common audience. But they started singing the National Anthem after watching the film. I got compliments from Mahesh Manjrekar sir, who is extremely economical with his compliments. He is my other favourite Mahesh sir from North India. This is what encouraged and enabled us to immediately announce the screening to the audiences even before its release in the theatres.
You recently stated about other films clashing with Major, ‘While these are big fish in the sea, Major is a goldfish. This ‘goldfish’ comparison has not gone down well with the South Indian fans. What is your comment?
I don’t plan anything while answering any question raised by the media. Are you speaking about Kamal sir’s fans? I will simply say Kamal sir is a true blue legend. His film Vasantha Kokila is in my all-time top five. So what are we even talking about? The big man has done a film, and I am going to watch it (Vikram Hitlist). It was very important for me to set the records right. The fact of the matter is that Major is the biggest film in the Telugu market. Samrat Prithviraj is the biggest budget film in the Hindi market. So, why deny that? I simply wanted to say I am happy to be with these big fish because I grew up watching their cinema. I am only saying that we have our own charm.
How sure are you, as an outsider, to be able to exist along with them?
I feel it also comes from integrity. I have been the first recipient of my seniors’ love in Telugu. People from film families and outside there are so many established stars who have praised my films. Mahesh sir has praised three of my films. Before Major was even spoken about, Mahesh sir praised my earlier released films. He launched the trailer of Kshanam. He reviewed Goodachari; he is famous for his tweet reviews on films. And he had put tweets on Goodachari. I have received love from my seniors for a long time. I generally don’t believe that I have been a victim of petty politics. We don’t have time to think about it. I have not only existed, but I have also flourished.
You have associated with Mahesh Babu through Major. Will you get a different reception in Tollywood hereafter?
I was in no camp. I have had successful and nice movies. I never needed a camp, but Mahesh sir’s support is such an immense strength to the film. I grew up watching his films. He is my favourite actor. For him to give this film huge support, also giving his banner feels nice. I am the first outside actor whose film he has ever produced.
Mahesh recently said, ‘Bollywood can’t afford me. I don’t want to waste my time’. What’s your response to this?
We are all familiar with Mahesh sir’s humour. It was said in half jest. But when you take a sentence said, and put it in the middle of the headline. It rings very differently. Even if you take that clip without the context from five other answers, it rings very differently. That’s exactly what everyone here did; they inflamed it. Yes, we were very offended because it was said half in jest. We South Indian people are aware of the fact that Mahesh Babu is known for his witty and fun remarks, and I have seen Shah Rukh (Khan) sir doing it, but those don’t become headlines.
Karan Johar recently said that Indian cinema is a globally recognised industry now, and we needn’t go to festivals or look forward to Oscars. What is your opinion on this statement?
I agree with that. I loved Indian films. When I was a kid, I would often see most successful Indian actors would get to be working as software engineers or would land up working at the gas station. I still don’t see a brown skin ‘Tom Cruise’ at the moment. I mean, no Indian actor is being given the heavy centre lead of global franchises. Instead, we get to be part of someone else’s franchise. So my intentions were always there, to carry films on my shoulders that come from Indian cinema. And SS Rajamouli sir has proved it with RRR and Baahubali.