Armed with a tape recorder and our pens and pads ,we storm the green room where popular Telugu Film Star Rajendra Prasad is resting after the trip from NY. Thrown and confused by a quick introduction by yours truly, he perks up at the mention of an Interview and promises to talk to us after the show.
Having acted in over 200 Telugu films, most of them Box Office hits, Rajendra Prasad exudes a common man charm, seems approachable and open. On stage , he works the audience, indulging in banter and teasing. He opens with a long monologue on humor and its importance in everyday life. Peppering his talk with jokes, rendered in colloquial Telugu, he draws laughter and appreciative hoots from the audience.
From encouraging successful Telugu folk to invest in their native land and blessing them in those endeavors to worrying about the job lay offs in the tech industry, he connects with people and there is an audible sigh of disappointment at the end of his talk.
We catch him backstage, where hoards of fans await for autographs and with cameras. He poses patiently with each one of his fans, all the while gesturing and mouthing apologies to us for keeping us waiting.
" I love ladies" A little alarmed and unnerved by this opening statement, I ask him to explain. " A male fan means he alone is my fan, if a lady likes me , then her whole family does too." A simple but astute observation. , I am certain that a sharp understanding of the pulse of the people lies behind the friendly laid back exterior. " My mother passed away when I was very young and my two sisters brought me up, I have always admired and loved women more than men." He adds.
To change the subject, we ask him if he has any political aspirations. He avoids answering the question directly but reminds us that he was a keen supporter of the late film actor and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N T Rama Rao. 'And now the Chief Minister Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu has my full support. I am willing to help him and the people of my state in every way that I can. Having spent time with the CM in New York, I am amazed at his capabilities and we should be very proud of him."
Asked what he owed his popularity and success to ,he swiftly says " my fans, lovers of good clean entertainment! " He urges me to record the fact that a few years ago when the then Indian Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao visited his home state of AP, he was depressed and over wrought over some political issue. Someone gave him four of Rajendra Prasad's films, comedies all . PVN is supposed to have watched all four in one sitting and gave a statement attesting the fact that RP's films helped keep troubles off his mind. " That is power of my comedy!" he crows.
He beams and tells us that my alma mater Andhra University, awarded him an honorary doctorate a few years ago, implying that it means a great deal to him. A graduate in Ceramic Engineering, Rajendra Prasad took to acting soon after college.
A message to his fans in the US? "You are all too stressed out, go and have more fun, watch my films and laugh" He wishes us well and promises to check out our web site. As a parting shot he reminds us that he does love ladies. We wish him luck and leave as he gets ready to go on stage to moderate a quiz based on his films.
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