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    Mahesh’s Arjun aiming for the bull’s eye

    Saturday, August 07, 2004
    He is in the eye of a storm. His last release Nani was a disaster. His fans are furious. The media is eager to write him off.

    Yet, amidst all this frenzy, Mahesh Babu is cool and composed as if he is an apprentice with a Zen monk. But that has been his strength - an ability to internalize troubles and go about in life with usual poise and panache.

    For a man who came into the industry as a boy, Mahesh Babu has indeed come a long way, showing improvements in each and every one of his films. But his biggest test is Arjun, his forthcoming release. It is an action-packed movie directed by Gunasekhar (the duo had given the hit Okkadu), with Shriya in the female lead.

    One way or the other, it can decide where Mahesh’s career is headed.

    Excerpts from a chat with the handsome hero:

    Must be happy that the songs of Arjun are doing well..

    It is all Mani Sharma’s work. He has come out with a wonderful package. He has combined various types of song and given a unique blend. Of course, it has been all hard work. Lot of thought has gone into the songs. I ma happy that the efforts have paid off.

    But Nani too had good music?

    Nani’s case was different. It was a well-made movie with a cute idea. But I guess my image affected the movie. Perhaps, that was the reason why it didn't click with audiences.

    What then is your image?

    Strangely, I can't put a finger and say this is it. I have my own confusions about it. But I have come to realize what the fans are looking for in my films. In that sense, I know what kind of films will click. I don't want to disappoint my fans and hence will do films to their liking.

    So what is Arjun all about?

    It is a fun movie. It is an action flick. It is a romantic film. It is all these plus some more. I will let you into the contents of the movie. But suffice to say it has got its mix right. It has got the right feel. It will showcase all our talents. In Arjun, we have not floundered at any level. Be it visuals or music, we have not cut corners. We have aimed at excellence. Hope we are vindicated.

    Don't you think that you are putting yourself under pressure by hyping the film?

    Hype is part of the film business. But, at any rate, Arjun, I think, is worth the talk. You will understand it when you see the film. There won't be any disappointments, I can assure you.

    You have a special chemistry with Gunasekhar. How did it happen?

    He knows what he is doing. He is man of passion and his energy levels are amazing. He knows his limitations; yet, he keeps pushing the frontiers back. His greatest strength is to tell a simple story in a grand and acceptable manner. He has his own set of idioms in film-making. He sticks to that.

    Tell us something about the much-talked about set (Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai)

    Well, every film needs a plausible backdrop. That leads to audience involvement. In Okkadu, we shot in the backdrop of Charminar. For Arjun, we settled for Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. To get the authenticity, we went the whole hog and got the best possible set erected. Thota Tharani’s work is amazing. He has got each and every detail right. He was fabulous. Seeing his work, we are convinced that every penny (actually a few crores) spent has been worth it.

    After Arjun, what?

    Jayabheri Kishore’s Athadu, directed by Trivikram Srinivas, is already on. It is also a typical fun film with dollops of action, romance and emotion. Then there is Ashwin Dutt’s movie that will be directed by Gunasekhar again. I am also doing a film with M S Raju. It is a big banner movie. With these films, my hands are full for the next several months.

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