Allu Arjun: ‘It’s Likely to be my Career’s Biggest Hit’

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Telugu superstar Allu Arjun is on Cloud Nine. His  latest film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo has opened  to record crowds. “It is  likely to be my career’s biggest  hit so far. What can  I  say? I’m overwhelmed. It’s also very humbling to be given this kind of response,” says Arjun  whose career since 2003 is cluttered  with blockbusters.

He shyly admits he hasn’t got so many compliments for any  of his previous films. “The two things that I  keep  hearing repeatedly about  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is that it’s a one-man show, and that it has repeat value. As far as being a one-man show goes,  I can’t take the credit for  my performance. Full credit must go to my director Trivkram Srinivas.”

Trivikram and  Allu Arjun have worked  together before. “Yes, we teamed  up in  Julai and S/0 Sathyamurthy  before. So  there is a  huge comfort level. We needed to  do something different  within the commercial format. Like you said, the  story (of babies getting switched  at birth) has been done  repeatedly  for generations. The  freshness had to come in the treatment, not in  the plot.”

Arjun  says he  tried to  do something  different in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo  with his performance   even  while  adhering to  the  needs of a  commercial audience. “You see, when we mass entertainers  do  a  formula  film  we tend to go over-the-top to seem  larger-than-life. This  time  in  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo I decided  to keep my performance on an authentic  level even as I  did  all the things that  commercial cinema demands  of  me.”

All Allu Arjun fans  and even those who are  not traditionally his fans have noticed the manner  in  which Arjun holds the camera  to his personality  without  screaming for attention. In a sequence he  does a whole lengthy jig  dancing in a board room to popular old Telugu film songs. “You  liked it?” Arjun laughs shyly. “It was an afterthought. We thought  the  boardroom  sequence needed something extra. So why not a medley of old songs for me to dance to?”

Though the steps look improvised Allu admits the dancing required  hours  of  rehearsal “We had a very experienced veteran choreographer  to guide my  steps. When we  were doing it we never  thought of how much it would be  liked. When  I am doing a film I don’t think about how successful it would become.  I don’t put that  kind of  pressure on myself. I’m not thinking now  about  what to do in my next film to be one-up on  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. But I  can tell you I’m putting  everything that I  can into my next.”

But here is  the one thing that Arjun would never abandon. “I am  never  going to step off the commercial platform. It is  where  my  dreams were realized and as far I am concerned it is  the  commercial cinema  that  gives  me all the  success and  fans.”

Speaking of  fans does it get too much to handle them? “Not at all . I love their attention. I am what I am because of the fans. They’ve made  me into  the person that I am today.”

Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo has  the incandescent Tabu playing  Arvind’s  mother. How did they manage  the feat? Says Arjun, “It took no great  persuasion. One  phone  call from the director….five minutes  into  the   narration and she was on board. She   knew my director’s work and we needed someone with  great dignity and grace, someone  who doesn’t talk much, but can freeze  you with one glance.  Who but Tabu?”

At  the moment  Arjun  has no plans of  heading to Bollywood. “Don’t get me  wrong. Bollywood  is  a  lovely place. I  love the work that’s being done there. A film  like  3 Idiots is truly  inspiring to me. There have been  offers  from Hindi cinema.  But for me  to take  a break from my  busy career  in Telugu cinema it has to be something worth the effort. Maybe someday soon.”

Would Allu Arjun  like it if his  son and daughter showed an interest in  acting? “I’d welcome  it. Right now they’re too young. But when they’re old enough to  choose their own  path and  if they tell me they want to be  actors, I’d extend  all support to them. I come from  a family devoted to cinema. My grandfather  gave his life to the movies. And  my father is  completely devoted to  producing films. For me cinema is life.”