Senior actor-politician Balakrishna or Balayya as he is fondly known will soon be seen in upcoming film Ruler, which is interestingly set against the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh. “The Telugu people — especially farmers — migrated to many states, including Uttar Pradesh,” he explains, adding that there are many thoughtful dialogues about farmers, the Telugu people and culture in the film.
Balayya, who will be sporting a different look in the film, admits to have been inspired by Iron Man character Tony Stark. “Yes, I took inspiration from Tony Stark, and everyone was thrilled with my look. In fact, they started calling me Tony Stark! I play the owner of an IT company and wanted to try something different,” reveals the actor, who confidently adds, “At times, I follow the trend while at others, I create new ones.”
Balakrishna cites his late father, actor N.T. Rama Rao as his inspiration. “He did three different characters in one film with lots of variation and expression. So I follow in his footsteps for all my characters,” the actor says adding that he works hard to get into the skin of his characters. “Like my earlier film Gautamiputra Sathakarni, for this film too, I gave up eating rice to look thin and young,” says the actor, who is all set to try a different look and physique for his next film to be directed by Boyapati.
The family man
The actor is quite the family man and admits to enjoying spending time with his two grandsons, one of whom is former AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s grandson too. He affectionately calls them CM and MM, adding that the nicknames stand for Classic Manavadu and Mass Manavadu respectively. “The younger one is just a year and a half, but he is very active and may be like me when he grows up. He never calls me tatha, he calls me Bala instead,” reveals the star.
Rings on his fingers!
Quite noticeably, Balakrishna wears nearly eight rings on his fingers and one can’t help but wonder if the actor is superstitious. “These are just general rings — one of them in fact, was given to me by a fan,” reveals the actor, as he recalls a funny incident that happened a few years ago. “My wife always used to wonder why I wore so many rings. But at one New Year party in Goa, I won a prize for wearing the most rings, which got me a free holiday package for three days with complimentary tickets thrown in. That’s when she understood the benefit of wearing so many rings!” he laughs.
On director KS Ravi Kumar
Praising Ruler director K.S. Ravi Kumar, Balakrishna says, “He is a producer’s director and I am the same, so naturally, we hit it off very well. He has worked with many big stars and makes films quickly. In fact, Ruler was made in just four months!” While K.S. Ravi Kumar has also branched off into acting with nearly ten films in hand, Balakrishna reveals that the director put aside two of his acting projects to direct this film.
The actor also proudly states that whenever he plays a cop, his films have been successful. “Rowdy Inspector, Lakshmi Narasimha, Chennakesav Reddy and Inspector Pratap were all big hits. In this film too, I play a cop role as well as that of a rythu (farmer), which I wanted to do since long,” he reveals.
Classmates and friends
Given that former Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, former cricketer Azharuddin and former speaker Suresh Reddy are all classmates of the actor, do they meet regularly? “We are in touch over the phone but it’s tough to meet up often as I am busy with my shoots. But now I am free till Sankranti, so we will most likely meet in the coming days,” says Balakrishna, who adds that they don’t always talk about films when they meet.
Spending time in Hindupur
Elected from the Hindupur Assembly constituency, Balakrishna also spends considerable time looking after it. “Though I am busy doing films, I have also been spending time in Hindupur. It has developed a lot in the last five years but I still have to do more. The main water problem is solved and now I have a few developmental projects to do. I will also meet the Chief Minister in the coming days,” says Balakrishna, who is quite vocal about working for his constituency.