Sep 28, 2008

Interview with Vemuri Satyanarayana

Vamsy's Manchu Pallaki, Ladies Tailor, Maharshi, or Kranthi Kumar's Swathi, etc. all have one name in common - Vemuri Satyanarayana. If you talk to Vamsy or Sravanthi Ravikishore, they speak of several nice things about him. I called him one day to talk to this invisible personality who was there behind many successful films, but he didn't show any interest in talking about himself. After talking to him for a couple of times and mentioning common people that we both know, he reluctantly agreed to talk on a weekend. Here are the excerpts from the brief chit chat, exclusively presented to the visitors of TeluguCinema.Com:

About his family background:
I was born in a small middle class family in Ghantasalapalem in Krishna district. My father is a farmer and owns three acres of land in the village. My father gave more importance to education and even sold the three acres of land for the cause of my education. I was unable to get the seat in MPC group in Vijayawada or Gudivada, and I was thus forced to take a seat in MMC in B.Sc. My plan was to complete it and join in engineering. However, due to some problems, I failed in one subject, and I had some time to complete that subject. In the meantime, I joined in Andhra Foundry and Machine Company in Hyderabad as a storekeeper. At the time of the exams, when I asked for some vacation to prepare for the exams, I was refused to be given any leave and I thus resigned the job and started preparing for the exams. I got married to my niece by then and she was carrying a baby at that time. My father-in-law lives in Singarayakonda and when my wife delivered the baby, the boy had a problem with legs and doctors bandaged both the legs for the day-old baby! Hearing that, I rushed to Singarayakonda and was not able to concentrate on exams and eventually I didn't write exams even that year! The baby boy also died after an year. After that too, we had problems with babies for another two years which made me so upset that I wanted to go with the vasectomy to ensure that at least my wife will have a healthy life. But, before the operation, my father-in-law got the news from the doctor who was his friend and he was totally against the idea. One of my friends, Baburao, said that he knew a homeopathy doctor who can cure this, which made me move to Hyderabad to take the medicine. After using it, she became cured and we have two children now.

Getting into the literary field:
I was an avid reader of books from my childhood! When we moved to Hyderabad, I started working in PWD Groundwater Division as a non-technical bEldaar mEstrii on daily wages. When I was working in Rudrapaka on this work, my friend Vemuri Balaram came one day and said that he wanted to start a magazine called Swathi and asked me to join with him. Thus, from 1970-'73, I worked with him on the magazine after which he took over it fully, and I moved to Jyothi monthly in Madras. Jyothi was run by Leelavathy Raghavayya gaaru after her husband Raghavayya gaaru passed away. From 1973-'81, I worked in Jyothi monthly where I met many writers like Malladi, Yandamuri, Vamsy, etc.

Getting into the films:
We used to have some pages exclusively for movie-related information in Jyothi monthly. We used to have regular movie feature and sometimes when the reporters were unable to send information on time or unable to attend some movie functions, I used to attend them on their behalf. Thus, I started interacting with film people. Also, some of the Jyothi monthly serials used to be made into movies, and in that process, I used to get in touch with film people some more. Vijayachander is a good friend of mine and was making the film Karunamayudu. He asked me to get a good PRO for the movie. So I introduced him to a journalist friend who was paid a Rs. 500 as an advance by Vijayachander. When I met Vijayachander after a couple of months, I learned that my journalist friend never showed up at work! I felt embarrassed and bad, and upon insistence of Vijayachander, I agreed to work as the PRO for that film. Thus started my direct involvement in films.

On becoming a producer:
I did the film Rajadhiraju with Bapu gaaru for Vijayachander again. On the sets, I saw a person who came everyday to see the shooting. He was a businessman - Mr. M.R. Prasad who had a business called Godavari Savings Syndicate in Rajahmundry. Once the shooting was over, he came to me and said that he'd like to produce a movie and asked me to join as a producer. I admitted that I did not have any experience, but he insisted saying that he did not have any experience at all, and that I was better than him. I eventually agreed, and that's how the idea of Manchu Pallaki started.

On association with Sravanthi Ravikishore, Kranthi Kumar, etc.:
After the flop of Manchu Pallaki, I went back to my PR work for films. Meanwhile, Vamsy got himself busy with more films like Sitara, Anveshana, and Aalaapana. When Sravanthi Films planned to make the film Ladies Tailor, Vamsy introduced me to Ravikishore, who asked me to be associated with the film. That's how I stepped into the Sravanthi banner. From then on, we became a team and I did almost all films in Sravanthi banner.

Vamsy with Suhasini and Chiranjeevi on the sets
With Kranthi Kumar, I worked only for a few films like Swathi, Agni Gundam, Neti Siddhartha, etc., but he was a good friend of mine and we were very close from the beginning. Later, I moved to Hyderabad and worked with Gemini Television for two years as a Project Coordinator. I also wrote the story for the film Maharshi. The film failed due to miscasting, I could say, even though it had beautiful music and Vamsy's magic.

My association with Sravanthi continues to this day. My son, who had completed his education in USA and had come back, has worked as an assistant director in Sravanthi banner. He's now getting ready to direct a film soon for Mr. Ramesh who made the film America Alludu. The film will go to floors soon.

Working for Seetharamayya Gaari Manavaraalu

A bank employee by name Haragopal, who used to write stories under the pseudonym 'Manasa', came to me one day and narrated a story to me - it was a novel by name Navvinaa Kanneelle - and I liked the story too! He revealed that he was trying to get into films and that was the reason he got transferred to Madras so that he can try in films while working. After working for three years in Madras, he had to leave to Vijayawada again. He gave me the novel and asked me to make a film out of it if I get a chance ever! I narrated the story to a couple of friends but none of them showed any interest. I was once sitting with Kranthi Kumar and I narrated this story to him. He just listened to it without any comment, and he wanted to listen to the story the next day again - he liked it, apparently. V.M.C. Doraswamy Raju came to Kranthi Kumar one day and showed interest to make an eight-percent tax movie. (At that time, movies that release with less than 25 prints fall into the category of 8% tax, above which the tax would be 16%.) Kranthi narrated the same story to him, he liked it instantly, and Kranthi was asked to direct the movie for their banner. Kranthi agreed to do it only on the condition that the role of the grandfather should be done by Nageswara Rao gaaru only! Nageswara Rao gaaru used to fly to the USA in every May at that time. When we called him to discuss the project, he was about to leave to the USA in a couple of days, and we thus went to him the same day by flight, and I narrated the story to him. He agreed instantly, and ...the rest is history.