Y. Sunita Chowdhary
Producer Anil Sunkara speaks little but he turns generous with words while discussing Super Star Krishna. We saw a video interaction with his favourite star a few months back and he was all smiles savouring his fanboy moment. Commemorating Krishna’s 78th birthday (earlier this week), he talks of how important fans are for running of a film and states the industry would have never flourished without them. He is all set to launch his web series and is close to finalising the cast and crew before the launch of Mahasamudram starring Sharwanand and Siddarth.
On his career goal
I wanted to get into films as a director many years ago. I and Sreenu Vytla were roommates before I left to the US for higher studies and a job. Like others, I could have stayed back and entered the film industry in whatever capacity but things might have been different for me. I was a good student, scored good grades and was interested in software too. I come from a middle-class family and they mean everything to me. They wanted me to go abroad and once I felt I have reached a position I wanted to, I returned to India. I am a fan of Krishna and Padmalaya people were close to me. He had come twice to the US then and opened a chain of stores there.
A die-hard fan
NTR and ANR had their place but we got connected with the boy next door image of Krishna and for the films, he acted in. More than films, I like his attitude. I like all his qualities and he surprises us with his consistency, commitment at this age too. He has the same levels of enthusiasm and concern for fans. Even Mahesh keeps remarking that I am more of a Krishna fan which is true. Krishna is generous and has a straight forward nature. He has this ‘we’ approach to his fans and always says he is our man and we have to take care of him. I go to see his film irrespective of the film’s content; all that matters to me is his presence. I just like him. There are several times we would get into arguments with other hero fans and it would run to hours together. The next morning they give up admitting the lack of energy for further arguments. Meeru moorkhulu. Mee tho memu matladalemo, meetho maaku voddhu.
If someone questions if Krishna can dance in a particular way, we would retort Meeku kavali, maku avasaram ledhu. Migatha vaalandharu stars, our man is a super star, ayanaki avasaram ledhu. When fans are ready to accept him as he is, what is your problem?” The fans wish good for him and his entire family has their love and blessings.
Importance of fans
Veteran actress Vanisri made a tongue in cheek remark in a television interview when asked about Krishna. She said that the amount of memory and information he has on theatres and his films’ collections all over the State is amazing. “Had he invested such energy and interest into acting, things would have been a lot better,” she also added. Anil Sunkara retorts as a true fan would, “She perhaps doesn’t know one thing. Antha focus acting meeda pettina vaalaki entha mandhi fans unnaru? It is the fans who care for collections, their love for him is blind and unconditional. I could be just one per cent amongst them. They invest their money in buying tickets and make sure the film runs for 100 films. They have massive fights for running a film for many days in theatres. The last call comes to us. In the worst scenario, they say, ‘meeru pettaleka pothey memu pettesthamu’. All hero fans will do that, this is an integral part of our film culture which is why our industry is so big. If this fan following goes missing, the industry will become a zero. Sarileru Neekevvaru is made for fans and I was sure of the first day collections. No fans, there is no film. No one has the crazy and diehard fan following that Krishna has, it is everlasting. He has the highest number of fans associations too.”
As a producer
I see I get the best theatres during the release. I do the same for every hero I work with, but I go that extra mile for Krishna’s family. I interact with fans a lot and I meet Krishna once in six months. I am amazed at both Krishna and Mahesh’s memory, it is that sharp and elephantine, you can never fool them. They remember the minute details. We produced four films with Mahesh and he can recollect every moment of our meetings. I am proud of that quality in him, it makes us feel warm, wanted. Whenever the AD narrates a dialogue, he just listens attentively and says okay. Basically, I wanted to produce a film with Mahesh and I have been lucky I did it early in my career. As a director, I have faced disappointment, but as a producer I am happy.
I admire Ashwini Dutt, he is ‘the’ producer and not just a producer. He waited so many years and came up with Mahanati. I have a soft corner for him since he too hails from Vijayawada. Whenever such producers deliver a hit, the entire industry celebrates. When Mahanati became a hit, we all treated it as our individual achievement. We were very proud of it. We all are united, we feel bad when someone runs into a loss. It affects the entire industry and this is the best quality the industry can boast of. These days we have many new producers stepping in and in such a scenario, the heroes with their vast experience chip in their suggestions. It is of great help to the producers because the boys have the knowledge and are also worried about their films. It is wrong to state that heroes are taking producers for a ride, no one does.
After the success of any film, we call Krishna home, we invite the main crew too and have lunch. We did that post Dookudu. There is a particular place in every city like Gandhi Nagar centre in Vijayawada where all the fans meet on the first day of the film’s release. There’s so much enmity that day that we don’t see eye to eye. The next day is all normal. Ditto with the Indo-Pak matches that happens in Sharjah. On the day of the match, we were witness to a group that would yell at each other but the next day there is harmony. The fans ask for very few things. They want their banners and they spend all their pocket money on it. So we organise a photoshoot with the fans keeping all this in mind. Even Mahesh knows about it. Their joy is multiplied when they display the photos on the banners at the theatres. They include the film as part of their life, so we can’t write them off.
Right now, new concepts are being welcomed. Earlier, it was dates and combinations and proposal-making. Now, it is just the story. I do have plans to enter OTT platforms, I have almost finalised a series. Having said that, I reiterate cinema will have its own charm. Some films need to be seen in theatres. The enjoyment of those 3 hours is unparalleled. Every industry is suffering due to this pandemic and it is a matter of time we will be back on track.