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Home Personality Interviews

Personality Interviews

Pooja Bhatt

Pooja Bhatt

An interview with a compassionate actress

POOJA BHATT is twenty-six today, very with it, and yet, as she begins opening up, you sense a lost little child somewhere there, hidden behind the woman-of-the-world façade. Always reliable headline material, be it here frank views, boyfriends bodypainting, producerni, and now, in her new avataar – Star Of The Idiot Box. Mainly, Pooja is Pooja – compassionate, whacky, sensible, a laugh riot….the quintessential woman, wouldn’t you say??

Q. What’s with th

e television bit anyway?

Answer : Hey, I started off with television as a medium, as far as ‘Daddy’ was concerned. I always wanted to do it, but Mukesh wasn’t too ready. I think you can do a lot of experimenting with TV.

Q. Are you and Vikram the newest team on the block now?

Answer : (emphatic) Vikram – he’s a very good director to work with. But no, we’re definitely not a team – we’re not even related.

Q. Why choose a remake of ‘Wuthering Heights’ for your TV debut?

Answer : I think it’s a dramatic story; the Heathcliff character is very identifiable. It’s classic, and simple to shoot, logistically.

Q. Has Pooja Bhatt as we knew her, sobered down?

Answer : (laughs) I don’t know how it happened, my sobering down. I’m still extremely impulsive though. I’ve tried to do things on other people’s terms, but it didn’t work for me. I think I’m more practical – calmer, I would say – than I was at eighteen.

Q. You keep making these digs at ‘molds’ and ‘slots’ Are you in a way hitting out at your contemporaries?

Answer : (chuckles) No, no, in fact, I admire someone like Madhuri or Karisma who can do the same thing over and over again, with fresh energy each time! Its just that its not my scene. I don’t look down upon the film industry. I enjoy acting, but I hate the bullshit that comes before going in front of the camera.

Q. Looking back, any regrets?

Answer : No, I don’t regret anything. I’ve partied, had a normal life. My mum is so normal. My life hasn’t been all business you know. What would I have gained hanging out in college anyway. This way, from the age of fifteen I’ve been modeling; whenever I’d go out, I wasn’t asking my mum or dad for money. If I decide to blow it on something ridiculous, well, its my money. So no – no regrets.

Q. What makes you tick?

Answer : What makes me tick? I don’t know. Maybe, just being the first one out there. I’m really not interested in shaking people up. There is life beyond being the hit flavor of the month. I’m an optimist – I actually like difficult situations.

Q. So what’s Pooja Bhatt all about, really?

Answer : I’m an average girl who’s looking for her man, and wants to settle down. I just want to meet somebody who can come skydiving with me and not think I’m crazy. I’m a hopeless romantic – the Last of the Romantics. What else …. I’m not a morning person, but I’m not very moody. And I’m a spendthrift. And oh yes, I’m a solitaire girl!

 

Soundarya

Soundarya

Interview with an actress with a Telugu charm

I met up with Tollywood, Kollywood (Karnataka) and Mollywood's current Queen Midas- Soundarya - when she was in town recently shooting with apna Venky. When I reached the sets they were reharsing for this one step in this one song that required umpteen retakes. I fretted about her mood for the interview, but she was unruffled. I'd like to think I was a welcome change from Venky and the posse of extras! ! Anyhow, let it be on record that Soundarya is completely cooperative and friendly.

Interview Excerpts :

Punam: Is that your real name?

Soundarya: No it's Soumya. But everyone thought Soundarya is better as a screen name.

Punam: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Soundarya: I hardly have any spare time! But when I do, I garden a lot - I love plants and flowers. And I like listening to music. I like cooking but I don't know much and whenever I enter the kitchen, my mother sends me out! Because whenever I try a dish from a book, it comes out bad.

Punam: Why haven't you signed any Hindi banners after Sooryavansham?

Soundarya: I didn't really get very interesting offers. Although working with Amitabh Bacchan was a different experience altogether, I just enjoyed it. If I have to do something, I feel I should do it perfectly, and ofcourse, Hindi language is a problem. Plus, in the North, it's not only the language but also the time taken for production - even the artiste loses interest. I'm really enjoying my career here, enjoying the roles I'm getting. I worked hard to get to this position, and I'm popular here.

Punam: Is there any particular role you would like to essay?

Soundarya: I'd like a negative role.

Punam: That would be a little difficult, with an innocent face like yours?

Soundarya: Everyone tells me that I have a very sweet face! I'd like to change that. I wish I had a more flexible face!

Punam: Did you always want to join films?

Soundarya: Not at all, I wanted to go into medicine. I took science in college. But my dad was a Producer - Director in Kannada films, and someone saw me, and one thing led to another.

Punam: How do you get along with your competition?

Soundarya: As far as I'm concerned I've never had a problem with anybody, no rivalry.

Punam: What do you have to say about the Raj Kumar kidnapping?

Soundarya: That is really bad, he is such a respected man. In fact, out of respect, we are not shooting also, the Kannada film industry is on a complete halt.

Punam: Doesn't this make you worry about security?

Soundarya: See, ya, we do try and there is security, but beyond that, what can you do?

Punam: Is it alright for film stars to endorse brands in the rampant manner they've suddenly started?

Soundarya: There's nothing wrong in doing ads, especially if they're paying good money. I've recently done a South one for Tata tea.

Punam: What is your ultimate ambition?

Soundarya: I'd like to be successful in life. Today I'm successful in films, but once I leave, I'd like to extend that to my life. I'd like to be known for my character. I was never very ambitious, always a dreamer, Financially, things may have changed, but I haven't, as a person.

Punam: How good are you with money?

Soundarya: Luckily I have a brother who looks after my administration and my money, because I'm a total spendthrift. I can spend hours in a shop. I love hats, shoes, outfits, handbags, and ethnic jewelery. But if I had to do it, handle money, then I think I could be responsible, yes.

Confident Girl !

Vempati Chinna Satyam

Vempati Chinna Satyam

An exclusive interview with a great Guru, maestro and a visionary

The wind caressed my brow, my feet nestled on the grass, their toes unclenching in delight.

Whilst my senses swayed to the breeze, my eyes sought -- through a maze of dancing bodies -- in anticipation and awe -- the sage who sat half shrouded in the fading twilight, the Teacher... the Natyacharya...

For the uninitiated, let me say this; what Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is to Odissi, what Birju Maharaj is to Kathak, Master Vempati Garu is that to Kuchipudi -- A doyen of this classical Andhra dance form.

Born in 1929, in Kuchipudi village of A.P, ran away to Madras with nothing but a bagful of dreams and a breast burning with ambition.

Founded Kuchipudi Art Academy in 1963 and has trained nearly 1000 students in this style; conducted more than 3000 recitals in India and abroad; and has the credit of placing the Kuchipudi art form firmly on the dance map of India, at a time when it was on the verge of dissolution.

I stole these few precious moments with him on the eve of a 40 day workshop held on Kuchipudi last month at Shilparamam. I sit at his feet just after the students have vacated the cement floor...

Q. How do you feel after all these years; the achievement, the sacrifice... dedication...?

Answer : What I felt in my heart -- whatever my inner voice told me -- I followed that. I never thought about success, failure, fame,... And tell me what are all these? This sacrifice...? Only seen from outside you can term all these. But when you see from within... There is only one and that is Art!

Q. Are your students made to understand this?

Answer : Look at these children (dance students who were standing nearby, respectfully...), not all can be expected but even if one o

r two of them can truly embrace this art, I think I would’ve done my role. You see, there is skill, talent, technique and hundred other norms but above and beyond that, there is communion -- between the performer and the ideal -- that one must aspire for. That is Art! Again, only when this craving is there will one truly understand the futility of words like discipline, sacrifice, dedication, etc.,... They are merely pheripheral.

Q. Your troupe has been giving so many performances over the years, here and abroad. Don’t you find it difficult to make the audience understand the complexities of our Indian mythology (Kuchipudi dance-drama content is predominantly mythological)? Don’t you think more elaborate oral translations are required for the audiences’ benefit?

Answer : We were performing in Europe. As usual a brief pre-recital summary was read out to the audience. But the organisers went a step above and put an electronic scroll monitor which ran the entire story in their native language! It was amazing and not to say the audience enjoyed it that much more. Yes! I agree there should be proper viewer initiation, but I must reiterate, in the end, it is art that truly transcend

 

s over everything - language included.

Q. What do you opine about the present state of Kuchipudi?

Answer : What can I say about Kuchipudi? ...As he says this he looks up in reverence, eyes half closed... It is a way of life. I’m old now, my limbs are weak, my body doesn’t obey my mind, but that spirit, I can’t remember since when, still burns with the same passion. It is there... it is there... (he murmurs softly).

...Silence...

Answer : Today, glamour dominates all stages; lots of lights, sound systems, gyrations, et al. Amidst all this where does Kuchipudi stand, is that your question?

Q. Yes.

Answer : Let me say this and suffice; Kuchipudi has already faced and emerged out of the worst kind of ostracism in the past. It has evolved time and again in the bed of pure devotion. One cannot fail to see that devotion and ardent desire whenever a Radha seeks a Krishna; or whenever Shiva breaks out in a thunderous tandava. Such passion does touch you deep in the heart, always. I believe anything pure will hold its own and cannot be compared. Kuchipudi is one such pure expression of art.

Guru Jaikumar Acharya

An exclusive interview with a multi talented percussionist

Primetime Prism, since its inception has continuously endeavoured to reflect and reminisce the traditional and cultural spirit of Hyderabad in various fields of performing arts, dance, music and other creative spheres. In the process we’ve accomplished up to a modest degree in promoting our ageless tradition. Our reporting in the past has taken us in front of some of the best cultural venues that our city can boast of and a further pursuit has led us into some illumined alleys where these torchbearers piously labour hour after hour, to perfect as well as propagate our national treasure.

Our effort is to bring out this light from out of their humble dwellings and present to you some of that amazing talent that lies in abundance in our very own city.

This interview with eminent local musician, Sri Jaykumar Acharya, an accomplished Mridangist as well as a Tablist, is first in our series of ‘Torch Bearers of Art’. Sri Jaykumar Acharya is today one of the most eagerly sought after classical percussionist and forms part every major musical ensemble. Some excerpts from the interview...

Q. Acharya Garu, tell us something about your background.

Answer : I was born in a village called Ragunathpalli near Warangal. Since I hail from a farmer’s family, my entry into music was very late. I was already twenty when I first came to know that those divine sounds of produced were by an instrument called Mridangam!

Q. Since then, how has been the journey so far?

Answer : All credit to my two gurus, I must mention that I received my first music knowledge from my own uncle Sri Jagannath Acharya, my guru too. He taught me Tabla. After three years, in 1983, I came to Hyderabad and took shelter under the greatest Mridangam master, late Sri Sudharshan Acharya. A word about my late guru, if today there are serious practitioners of mridangam, the credit undoubtedly goes to this man who single handedly trained more than 500 mridangam students! Here, for 17 years I trained under him in the gurukul parampara. In 1991, I got a job in the Government Music and Dance College, Old city and in between my first job selling clothes near Charminar and my present one I tried to learn everything that I could about sounds and percussions and classical music.

Slowly my performances grew in number and today I am the Aasthana Vidhwan (Resident Musician) at Yadagirigutta Laxmi Narayanaswamy Devasthanam. In recent years I got the opportunity to tour places abroad. In 1996, I accompanied Shoba Naidu’s troupe to London and in 1998, I toured Australia with Smt. Rajeshwari Sainath and her troupe.

Q. Guruji, we have seen you play a variety of instruments. How is that?

Answer : I play on Mridangam, Ghatam, Kanjeera, Moorsing and then the Tabla. The first four belong to a similar school. They fall in the same musical system of South Indian Carnatic. Once you know mridangam, the rest of the quartet is a matter of earnest practise. But Tabla is a totally different instrument. They are diametrically opposite right down to the basic swaras. But the Taal is the same and in the end, I have to tell you out of my experience, that it is music that unifies everything, all the differences, et al.

Q. How is it to be a part of a concert? What is the experience like?

Answer : I love it! To play as much as I possibly can is what I strive for. That’s how today I play different instruments at one time. It is highly challenging to respond to the vocalist, the dancer, the music all at the same time.

In each musician, there is that humor. I guess, music is what that fills all of us with this wonderful quality. I owe everything to my music. All that I have belongs to music alone. Today, after having performed over 2000 concerts, I don’t have anything more to ask from God. Except ask him to pay me a visit again sometime...

 

A word about Acharya Garu :
He is the quintessential devotee of music and is most humble in his pursuit. He tries to obtain it in whatever form that comes and in the true tradition tries to pass the knowledge unto others. Just as two decades back when he used to cycle about the whole town teaching the ardent music lover, even today he never fails to teach the student who honestly desires to learn the classical percussions. As they say, you can’t find a Guru. When time comes the Guru will find you.

K Hariharan

K Hariharan
An exclusive interview with K Hariharan, Film Director
 

Interview Excerpts :

Q : How do you look at this festival ?

KH : The role of the festival should be to provide a reason for mainstream cinema makers into being interested in making children's films. Children should not be extricated because they are not stars.

Q : What is your film 'Dubashi' about ?

KH : It's about multilinguality and empowering children with it. It is also about knowledge of English and its psychological effects on vernaculars, which results in language-chauvinism, with a political touch too.

Q : How do you view Indian films on religious factors ?

KH : Well, I think the Indian cinema is a very good integrating factor.

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