Actor Priyadarshi is on cloud nine these days. ‘Balagam’, which was released in theatres on March 3, has been doing extremely well for a small-budget movie. Produced by Dil Raju Productions, the film has steadily grown in terms of popularity among the family audience, especially in Telangana. In this interview, Darshi, as he is fondly called, talks about the impact that the Venu Tillu directorial has generated. He also talks about his line-up of releases.
When pre-release screenings of ‘Balagam’ were held, my friends and family members described my performance in the movie as my next best one after ‘Mallesham’. Slowly, their love for the film has only grown stronger since its theatrical release. A friend of mine told me he couldn’t utter a word for 30 minutes after watching the movie. Someone told me an ego-driven issue with his brother got resolved amicably after watching the movie after he called up his brother and took the initiative to mend fences.
Reading the poetry of idealists like Jashuva has a way of stirring something deep within your heart. It makes you want to be a better person. Similarly, ‘Balagam’ manages to achieve this same effect. The film resonates with the audience on a profound level, leaving a lasting impression that inspires us to be our best selves. Overall, ‘Balagam’ strikes a chord with its poignant storytelling, conveying important messages that are relevant to everyone.
When I was young, I used to watch stage performances, and many years ago, I had the pleasure of witnessing a superb stage performance by director Venu Tillu. I was absolutely bowled over by his talent. Recently, when I came across the opportunity to listen to ‘Balagam’, I assumed it would be a lighthearted comedy. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the script had a poignant and moving narration.
I received the best compliment for my performance from my father, and it was a simple yet powerful gesture. He placed his hand on my shoulder, which is the most he usually does to express his affection when he finds my performance lovable.
There has been this allegation that ‘Balagam’ is inspired by ‘Pachika’, a short story published in a Telugu daily by a film journalist. I haven’t read the story. From what I have been told, ‘Balagam’ is an entirely different story. I would say anybody can read that story and compare it with the content of our movie. The element of a crow invited to eat ‘pinda daanam’ after a person’s death is a cultural practice. (Priyadarshi suggested that just because the crow element is common between ‘Balagam’ and ‘Pachika’, it doesn’t mean the two stories are the same).
Dil Raju Productions has the backing of a strong distribution network. That’s why ‘Balagam’ has been on a strong wicket from the beginning, unlike ‘Mallesham’ which didn’t make money through a theatrical release. People don’t talk much about my movies post ‘Mallesham’ save ‘Jathi Ratnalu’. ‘Balagam’ has changed that. When Chiranjeevi garu’s name is mentioned, I am reminded more of ‘Rudraveena’ and such content films. ‘Jathi Ratnalu’ is the kind of film you would want to watch randomly – to enjoy some comedy scenes on the go. ‘Balagam’ belongs to a different genre altogether.
Upcoming projects: I am doing a web series titled ‘Save The Tigers’ for Disney Plus Hotstar. Mahi V Raghava is its producer. It has nothing to do with tigers. It’s an out-and-out comedy entertainer directed by Teja Kakamanu. ‘Suyodhana’ is a feature film headlined by me. Some portion of the shoot is on. It’s a crime drama that has me in a leading role. I am acting alongside Nani in his 30th movie; I have an important role in it. I am also doing an indie project titled ‘Thirty Five’. Nivetha Thomas, Gautami garu, Bhagyaraj and others are part of the cast. ‘Shatagopam’ is a situational humour-based movie.
While ‘Pelli Choopulu’ may have catapulted me into the limelight as a comedian, films like ‘Mallesham’, ‘Oke Oka Jeevitham’, and now ‘Balagam’ have allowed me to showcase a new side to my acting skills. As I continue to gather more life experiences, I am excited about the possibility of exploring my creativity further and branching out into other areas of the film industry, such as writing stories and potentially directing movies.
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