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February 5, 1998


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Oh brother!

Kalyan. Click for bigger pic!
May all brothers be as helpful.

Chiranjeevi had declared his heir, younger brother Kalyan. And the precious inheritance has not been squandered by the young man, who has quickly emerged as an actor of standing.

The shy Kalyan is still uncomfortable with adulation and has a long way to go before he commands the kind of respect his brother does. But still, he's not just another star dropping; he's a man to watch.

The 27-year-old karate expert made his debut as a hero with Akkada Ammayi Ekkada Abbayi last year. Kalyan let a Maruti van drive over his palms. That made news; the film didn't.

And when some of the invitees who attended a party after the film was released suggested it was a trick, Kalyan repeated it.

Unlike AAEA, Gokulam lo Seetha, Kalyan's next film, with Raasi as the heroine, was a success.

And Kalyan began the new year with a bang with his latest film Suswagatham released on January 1 doing very well.

By nature an introvert, one has to strive hard to win Kalyan's confidence and get him to talk.

"I have always been like that. Because of that, people think I am proud," Kalyan says before getting down to some serious discussion with Ch Sushil Rao about himself and his promising career:

Click for bigger pic!
How did a reticent person like you become a hero?

True, I am an introvert but I am also an emotionally strong person. I experience all emotions in their fullness. This is an advantage since it helps me emote well before the camera.

While you were shooting for your first film, I noticed that you were not comfortable with Supriya, the heroine...

(Laughs) I must confess that I felt awkward even to look into my heroine's eyes. I even wore dark glasses to hide my discomfiture. This shyness was no more there during the later course of shooting. My family was pleasantly surprised to notice the change in me.

While one of your brothers, Chiranjeevi, practically rules the Telegu film industry, another failed to become an actor. How did you muster the courage to step in yourself?

It was not my decision to enter films. Since I was not doing anything, my brother Chiranjeevi decided to introduce me to films. Before taking the plunge, I trained under noted stage artiste L Satyanarayan for two months. He taught me the nuances of acting. I was also told that I was to act for the camera and that I should not be conscious of people around me. The training helped me to an extent but it was only after I actually started shooting that I slowly started losing my inhibitions.

The crowds which thronged the theatres to watch your first film were your brother's fans.

Kalyan steels himself for a nasty crack during a stunt scene. Click for bigger pic!
I know, but the crowds that came later came to see the film for whatever it was worth.

Since your brother was a celebrity anyway and his brother-in-law Allu Aravind is a producer, why did they delay launching you in films?

Four years ago, my sister-in-law had suggested to my brother that I be introduced into films. My brother decided to wait. His decision was right as I would not have made a good hero with those boyish looks.

The role is your first film was of a happy-go-lucky boy, which goes contrary to your nature. How did you handle that?

It was not easy but I managed. As I said, my training helped and, as shooting progressed, I was able to loosen up.

There is cut-throat competition in the industry, what with several heroes on the scene. How do you hope to fare?

There is place for everyone and I will carve out a niche for myself. Competition from my brother too does not bother me a bit. He has his own place in the industry.

You say you are a private person. A celebrity, particularly a film personality, finds it difficult not to be recognised and badgered. How will you cope with such a kind of life?

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I thought I could continue leading my private life, but I was mistaken. Once, after my first film was released, I happened to go to a secluded place near my home and was sitting under the trees when I noticed a group of boys teasing some girls. Unable to tolerate it, I walked up to the boys and warned them off. I thought they would not recognise me. When they did, I left the place.

On another occasion, at a petrol pump, people recognised me. A youth came up to me and wanted my autograph. I asked him why. He said because I was Kalyan, the actor. Not wanting to be mobbed, I denied that I was Kalyan and told him that many people mistook me for him. He went away telling me I looked exactly like Kalyan.

What I want to say is, yes, it will indeed be difficult for me to cope with celebrity status.

Is there some actor you admire much?

My brother, Chiranjeevi. That man is a phenomenon. I have been to the theatres to watch his films and the way his fans respond to his presence on the screen is simply unbelievable. They just go berserk. It only shows the tremendous impact he has on people.

Would you like to become like him?

I would like to establish myself as an actor but that is not my final goal. I want to become a director. Just look at the films made in Hollywood! I would, one day, like to make such good films.

Who would you like to direct, if and when, you make your film?

If know it may sound like a joke now, but I want to direct my brother.

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