Pulagam Chinnarayana is thrilled over the special commendations from Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu for his latest book Maya Bazar Madhura Smruthulu (Maya Bazar – Sweet Memories).
Pulagam Chinnarayana has never taken any of his many roles journalist, PRO, writer, lyric and dialogue writer lightly. Hence, he made a clear mark for himself. As he always ran behind letters, awards and recognitions came running for him, including the latest special commendations from the Vice President of the country, Hon'ble Shri Venkayya Naidu for his latest book Maya Bazar Madhura Smruthulu (Maya Bazar – Sweet Memories). This special interview with Chinnarayana on this historic occasion...
Congrats! Your book Maya Bazar Madhura Smruthulu has received a rare honour. How do you feel about it?
PC: Thank you, truly this is a rare and unforgettable commendation. Many Telugu books have received national-level honours earlier, but this special commendation letter is from the Vice President himself, that too for 'my' book... is definitely a proud and hard to believe moment for me! The benefits of hard work vary from field to field. Sometimes, it might be in the form of money, some other times some other rewards. But the best rewards a writer can get is an appreciation for their work. If any person comes up and says that the writing is good, with a pat on the back, nothing like it. The exhaustion of all the hard work evaporates within that moment.
I am sure such happy occasions are not new to you.
PC: Yes, my first book Jandhya Marutham a comprehensive account of all 39 movies by Jandhyala also got wide appreciation. In fact, it worked like my best visiting card in the film industry. Even now, it is a credit card that comes handy to me from time to time. Megastar Chiranjeevi himself wrote the foreword for that book – a first time for him, remember! My second book Aa Naati Aanavaallu had an appreciative foreword by Wordsmith Trivikram Srinivas. The first print of that book was sold out within a month and went for reprint. My next book Cine Poornodayam is a detailed account on the life of Sri Edida Nageshwara Rao of Poornodaya Creations was also a big success. Then came the book Svarnayuga Sangeetha Darshakulu on music directors who worked in the period 1932 to 1950. This book also holds a special place in my heart. Gana Gandharva SP Balasubhramanyam himself proofread this book. How many writers can claim such distinction and honour, tell me? 'This is a book that can produce many PhDs,' said C Narayana Reddy about the book. Keeravani honoured me with a foreword for this book. Pasidi Thera was a kind of sequel to Aa Naati Aanavaallu, where I compiled the details of 100 movies of that period. Cinema Venuka Storylu gives interesting details and background accounts of films made after the year 2000. This book also gave me immense personal satisfaction.
Coming to the present book, Maya Bazar Madhura Smruthulu the idea for the book came from Vishwanatha Reddy, son of Vijaya Nagireddy. A documentary was also made and released alongside this book, perhaps in a never before manner! Now this special commendation from the Hon'ble Vice President himself... Yes, I am delighted!
Book writing on one side, song lyrics another side, plus now dialogue writing for movies... how deep is the basis for this strength? Tell us about your background some more...
PC: I come from Lakshmi Puram of Krishna district. I grew up in my maternal grandparents' house in Adavi Kolanu village of West Godavari district. We all know that there is a strong influence of the surroundings we grew up in on our characters, I am no exception. Polishetti Koteshwara Rao, my grandfather always believed in doing ones work silently. Forget boasting, he would not even utter a word about his deeds with other persons. All my time management skills come from him. My grandmother taught me money management. I should mention my youngest uncle Bhaskar Rao also. It was his abundant collection of books that introduced me to worlds I never knew. I was a topper in studies all the time. And I would always secure top prizes in essay writing and elocution competitions while I was studying there. My first steps in poetry writing also began there. I shifted to Rajamundry for junior college where I got access to the Gautami Library. I used to spend most of my days there like I was preparing for some competitive exams or something (chuckles).
When I was studying electronics and instrumentation at Giddaluru Polytechnic College, I happened to watch a film shooting a couple of times. Slowly watching films became my second favourite activity after reading books. It was just pass time then, funny; they both became mainstays of my career now!
When we happen to like and enjoy the work we do, there is no pain, tiredness or boredom in it. In fact, we get a kick out of it to do more. I am not quoting any personality development books, it is my personal experience.
So, all was well, then why did this polytechnic kid turn to journalism?
PC: Coming there... It was like this famous saying "If you truly wish for something, the Universe conspires to give it to you..."after finishing polytechnic, I came to Hyderabad looking for the job. But I could not stay away from my home for long. So I went back to Rajamundry. Just then there was a notice for reporters in the famous daily "Samacharam." Gandham Nagasubramanyam garu was the editor then. I met him and showed him my writings. He gave me the job and I started working there. It was a normal, routine job and soon I started feeling that I could do better with my life.
I came back to Hyderabad and joined a computer hardware course. After the hour or so class in the morning, I had nothing else to do the entire day. It was books and libraries again! Having observed my interest in films, a dear friend of mine, Puranapanda Srinivas garu took me to the shoot of Aaro Pranam at Annapurna Studios one day. I was introduced to Thotakuri Raghu there. He was the editor for Shivaranjani then. Through him, I joined film journalism. Moving as per needs and opportunities, I worked for publications Gorintaku, Number One, Chitram, Santhosham etc.
Everywhere articles with my by-line used to appear. Under the name Sri Babu, I used to write articles for Andhra Bhumi. For one such article, megastar Chiranjeevi called me and congratulated my writing skills. L Babu Rao, Bal Reddy, Suresh Kondeti used to like my writing and always gave me a free hand and encouraged me. Because of such freedom, my presentation got a distinct mark and was noticed by Sakshi's Khadir Babu and landed me a job there. I grew up from a routine reporter level to In-charge stature there. Having put eight years of work there, I came out with a desire to make my mark as an individual and started professional work in the film industry.
Did you write songs and dialogues while you were handling a full-time job?
PC: Yes. My first song was for the movie Mahesh. 'Madi mose mounaanni...' goes the song. Songs in movies Preminchali, Garam, Manalo Okadu, ata gadaraa Shivaa, Janatha Hotel and many more followed. The song in Paisa Vasool is very special in this lot. Director Puri Jagannadh called me just after I left my job in Sakshi, enquired about how I was doing and gave me the chance to write this song. Balakrishna liked it so much that he would mention the song on every occasion thereafter.
How about dialogue writing?
PC: Dialogue writing began with Prema Oka Maikam. Each and every word was spoken by Charmi in that film came from my pen. My first film as a full-fledged dialogue writer – Gulf also got me good appreciation. Recently released Bluff Master too got good reviews and added to my confidence.
You are a reputed PRO too. Tell us about your work there.
PC: That role too began with Puri Jagannadh. I interviewed him when he got a chance to direct the movie Badri. It was his first interview. We became friends since then. Thus Puri's Itlu, Shravani Subhramanyam was my first movie as a PRO. At the same time, director Teja also asked me to handle press for movie Nuvvu Nenu. The count soon grew and I have worked as a PRO for over 300 movies by now. Pokiri, Vikramarkudu, Aa Naluguru, Grahanam, Midhunam, Resu Gurram, Kabali, Nenu Shailaja, RX 100, Sammohanam the list is long and filled with many prestigious and hit films. I permanently handle the works of actors Ram, RX 100, Karthikeya, Sapthagiri, and banners like Sravanthi Movies, Bhavya Creations, Sridevi Movies, Lakshmi Narasimha Productions etc, also.
Handling one job effectively is difficult, how are you able to don so many hats at the same time?
PC: (Laughing out loud) The key is time management sir! All the jobs I handled are film-related only. When I go to a location, I don't spend time in unnecessary talk. I make it a point to talk to all seniors and try to put it into some use. I use my book reading time for further research. It is all clearly visible in my books too. As a PRO, I cannot hurt anybody, at the same time, I should not suffer for anything. The foundation stones are not visible, but the existence of a building depends on them. Similarly, the values and work culture taught me by my elders is the basis for the buildings of career I have built right now.
Because my profession, passion and pastime... all are around cinema, I never felt any burden or pressure. That too, when we are clearly progressing towards our goal, we would not remember the hardships of our journey.
What is the recognition that you got on this journey so far?
PC: There are many...
1. 2005 AP Cine Goers award for Best Critic
2. 2006 Santhosham Award for Best PRO, Best Journalist, awarded at Dubai
3. 2009 AP State Government Nandi award for Best Book in Cinema for "aanaati Aanavaallu"
4. 2014 AP State Government Nandi as Best Critic
5. 2015 AP State Government Nandi awards Best Book in Cinema for "Pasidi Thera"