Exclusive: Bicchagadu producer Chadalavada Srinivasa Rao looks back at his eventful journey

Y Sunita Chowdhary

Producer Chadalavada Srinivasa Rao is familiar to many as a timber trader. Hailing from a huge joint family in Nellore, the sixty-year-old producer has a passion for making films. He is a man who lives by his principles and cares a damn for even the biggest names in the industry if fair play is not followed. He lives by the dictum ‘do good and it comes back to you’. He also is a huge admirer of Ramoji Rao, the newspaper baron and gives all the credit to him for being the person he is today. He had recently donated generously to the industry folks and came to their aid in the time of crisis. In a short conversation with Klapboardpost.com, he gives us a peek into his personality and reveals his plans of constructing a fine studio in Jammu & Kashmir soon.

Leading a life filled with gratitude

“I always make sure that I do more work than yesterday as I feel I have been gifted more than enough by the almighty. We are born perfectly abled which is where we have scored the maximum points. All we need to do is to live a good life and help others. I am a sampoorna manavudu, I have settled down well. I have seen and received everything, what I am getting is a bonus. I don’t care about struggles. Not many might have gone through the kind of struggles I went through in the world. We have been given a perfect body, I utilise it to do good work. I don’t remember the donations you people are mentioning because I don’t think I helped them. I am grateful to God as he has given me the power to do something that benefits them. I wouldn’t like to talk about it but I must say that it gets me a great deal of satisfaction. I don’t even care about this Coronavirus, I have 100 acres Timber estate and we all work hard. God has already decided our entry and exit time in this world, why get anxious and spend valuable time worrying?”

The need for proper planning

“There are people who harm others, they know very well what they are upto but convince themselves and justify that they are on the right path. We can just smile and ignore them. I never spend a penny more on films that are not planned well. It is not healthy to work with a director who has no clarity and keeps changing the script numerous times after it has been okayed. It directly leads to spending additional money which doesn’t guarantee success. So I go ahead with what has been decided earlier. Cinema aagipoyina parvaledhu but I won’t shell out a penny. If at all a cyclone hits a particular location and the shoot is interrupted, I don’t mind extending the shoot by a few days but I am against wasteful expenditure like shoot beginning at 11 am when it is supposed to get going at 9 AM. I will stop the film and bear the loss, even if it runs into crores but I expect things to go by perfect planning and pre-production.”

The challenges of being a producer

“A producer is like the head of the family and all artistes and technicians are its members. If a father works hard, the entire family gets to eat; the artistes should be indebted to the producer. If it is a small film, we spend from the pocket, if it is a big film, we take loans and procure everything. This is being cashed and misused, kastapadi techhina dabbu karchupettatam veru, lottery lo vocchina dabbu veru. I haven’t heard of producers being in sound financial health. Because of this pandemic, you won’t get to hear of any more films being sold for fancy rates. The huge remunerations that are being given to artistes also will have to go. It is the producers’ fault. If he is willing to give, why would they say no? Shaktini minchina pani cheyyakudadhu. I will make films that I am capable of producing.”

Initial interest in films

“My interest in films dates back to the time I was five years old. I am the 9th child in the family and we were not financially great, my father worked as a coolie in a depot and I grew up and brought the entire depot. It is quite a huge one. I remember as a child getting onto a train and pulling out an iron rod. I would throw it down and the friends would sell it. With that money, we all would watch films. I also went fishing, sold the fish to see films. I studied till the 7th class, another memory is being locked up whenever there was a celebration at home because I was famous for causing worry to others. Well, I observed the society but framed my own rules and regulations. I will work with anyone who will work according to my system. My father passed away when I was 12 years old, he didn’t see me flourish.”

Admiration for Ramoji Rao

“I am an unabashed admirer of Ramoji Rao. I might talk hours together about our relationship and you might find it pompous and overboard but I reiterate that given another life, I would like to be born as his staff. If I call him and he is busy, he will return my call and talk for an hour. Maa kutumbam aayushu posukuni aayana jeevinchali. I once along with small budget producers sought an appointment to discuss the construction of mini theatres. We informed his assistant that around forty of us will be reaching RFC but it so happened the numbers grew. I told Ramoji Rao about the change, he told us not to worry. After reaching RFC and post refreshments, he told the producers, Tirupathi Rao Srinivasa Rao na meedha petthanam chalayistharu, vinnatam tappa nenu chesedhi yemi ledhu. On another occasion, I and a director were in RFC, I had carried my lunch and we were sharing it that day. For the heck of it, I took the spoon of RFC and left mine with them. By the time I came to the gate, the security stopped us and said their spoon was misplaced. How do we recognize that I asked and the reply was the spoon had a number and RFC engraved on it. Just as Annamayya is to Venkateswara Swamy, I am a hardcore admirer, a devotee of Ramoji Rao.”

A heaven called ‘Jammu and Kashmir’

“We shot a film in Kashmir around the time the Kargil war took place and Farooq Abdullah was very pleased. The people in J&K warned us that we would go home without cameras and life but we went ahead with the shoot unmindful of those warnings. Abdullah said he would come to Hyderabad for the preview with his team provided we finish our schedule uninterruptedly. He kept his promise and when he did come, Ramoji Rao received him and Devender Goud who was then a home minister questioned the media baron if Abdullah was his guest. He said, “I came as a sarathy to receive Farooq Abdullah for Tirupathi Srinivasa Rao.” Two months back I met Ramoji Rao, he said the studio asked him on his morning walk if he is done, and if his stuff over? Nee sattha ayipoyinda? I picked that essence from that conversation and learnt a lot from it. For my timber business, I went around the globe but I haven’t found any place as beautiful as J&K. I am planning to construct a studio in Kashmir. Before the lockdown, I sent a proposal to the government. When I die I will die as a peaceful man. I have invested goodness into my business and I always got the same in return. I am a relaxed man and I never have any tension.”

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