Reporting by Niveda Manohar; Photos by Sriram Narasimhan. Photos from the press meet are below the report.
The Selvandhan press meet was held at the Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel. The atmosphere was more akin to a theatre playing a Mahesh Babu film, than a media event. Plus, this was the Telugu actor’s first appearance before the Chennai media. Such was the excitement, that from that moment he entered the venue, 15-odd Mahesh Babu fans chanted ‘Superstar Zindabad’ whenever their ‘Prince’ Mahesh Babu’s name was mentioned. By anyone.
Jagapathi Babu, who plays Mahesh Babu’s father in the film, couldn’t help exclaiming, “Are we in Chennai or Hyderabad?” He added that it had been a privilege to play Mahesh’s father. KE Gnanavel Raja, who is riding high on the success of Baahubali, said he hoped Selvandhan had similar fortunes. Director Dharani, who is best known for Ghilli, a remake of Mahesh’s Okkadu, said, “If it wasn’t for Mahesh’s Okkadu, I wouldn’t have made Ghilli. I owe him a lot.”
Director KS Ravikumar took everyone back in time with his reminisces about the young Mahesh playing badminton on the streets. He said, “Even then, I used to wonder how good looking this young lad is. While other actors need to work on punchy dialogues, Mahesh’s simple look is just mass-y.”
Music Director Devi Sri Prasad was welcomed on stage with chants of “Rockstar! Rockstar!” from fans. Giving in to the crowd’s requests, he sang a small part from the song ‘Jaago Re’, beatboxing included. The crowd’s exuberance reached its zenith when Mahesh Babu took the stage. Mahesh ended up requesting his fans in Telugu, ”This is my first time in Chennai. I’m new to this, so please relax.” He continued in Tamil, “This is the first time that I’m making a public speech in Tamil. This is a very proud moment for me. Tamil audiences love good films, and Srimanthudu is a good films. I hope they like Selvandhan as well.”
He left the stage, but the chants took a long time to die down. We left to echoes of “Advance Happy Birthday Annayyaaaaa“.