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There’s Not A Single Damn Thing You Can Do: Siddhu Jonnalagadda On A Decade Of Uncertainty Before ‘Krishna And His Leela’

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A decade of struggle, a dozen films and a plethora of rant-inducing situations —actor Siddu Jonnalagadda’s ten-year journey in cinema could make for an intriguing movie script by itself. After many years of trying to find his foot in the industry, his perseverance finally paid off, with his latest Krishna and His Leela (on Netflix) drawing a significant amount of attention and appreciation.

Siddu is being noticed for both his acting chops and screen presence in the romantic comedy. The film sees him play a young man who falls in love with two women at the same time and is a slice-of-life comedy. It is also, refreshingly, a movie that doesn’t get preachy about what’s right and wrong.

Siddu, who also co-wrote the film is elated with the response he’s been getting. “It’s been good. I knew I had a good film on hand but wasn’t sure if it would be a hit film. There’s a difference between a good film and a hit film, but glad the film has been liked,” he says.

When co-writing the film, did he take inspiration from real-life scenarios? “My co-writer is Ravikanth Perepu, who’s the director of the film. There are situations in the movie that have stemmed from real life and some from the conversations we’ve had.  We’ve always known that matters of the heart cannot be controlled. The heart goes in whatever direction it wants to, but one should control where it should go and where it shouldn’t,” he adds.

The movie also received a bit of negative attention from the religious fringe that was offended by the use of the names ‘Krishna’ and ‘Radha’ and targeted the film for insulting Hindu gods. Siddu says, “We never wanted to make a mockery of the names or portray Krishna in that light. We didn’t use them purposely, we just used names that would resonate with everyone. Incidentally, the film has three women. I’ve already apologised to those who have been offended by it.”

With this film being streamed on an OTT, he’s got responses from audiences across the country—from DMs to text messages to numerous emails. “People have said I’m a natural and some have taken notice of the treatment of the film. There are also those who have taken note of everything in the movie. In the last ten years, there have been times where I’ve cursed my luck, screamed into the sky, ranted and cribbed, but now it all seems worth it,” he says.

Krishna and his Leela is the film that’s changed things for him. He’s signed two ‘exciting projects’ about which he can’t talk right now though he gives credit to his latest film for bringing him to the fore. How did he deal with that decade of uncertainty and the pressure of not knowing what’s ahead? “There’s not a single damn thing you can do. You have to just accept it. There’s one thing I strongly believe in—nothing is permanent, not even success. Not the girl you think you’re in love with, not the friend you think will be with you forever, not the struggle, nothing. I want to be able to deal with the silence of failure as well as I deal with the chaos of success. Life is not as bad as you think it is, and you’re not as fat as you think you are,” he says.

Now that life looks bright and there’s a world of opportunities waiting for him, does he have anything specific in mind while choosing a script? “I would like to play real people—I don’t want to play preachy characters, unless it’s a biopic about someone who’s a really nice guy. I also don’t want to repeat myself. I want to experiment with genres,” says the actor. “I look for people with flaws and when I’m looking at a script I go ‘what is the flaw in him?’ If he’s all perfect, I have no interest. I’d like to know—does he lie, does he drink a lot, does he cheat? A flaw doesn’t always have to be black; it can be green too. For instance, in 3 Idiots, Aamir Khan’s character’s flaw was that he was consistently curious about things. I look for real people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like commercial cinema. Times are changing and we all have to change,” he posits.

Born and raised in Hyderabad, Siddu’s rendezvous with acting happened when he was studying engineering. As a writer, the artiste’s tryst with the pen happened with his previous movie outing Guntur Talkies. Writing, he says was something that happened randomly when the team decided to sit together and write something whacky. He’s also writing one of his next films. Now that he’s making a mark in Telugu cinema, will we see him other languages too? “I have done one Tamil film called Vallinam. Earlier, I didn’t have the luxury of choosing the scripts. But now, because of Krishna And His Leela, I’ve got the much-needed, elusive break, so now I’m in a position where I can choose what I want to do. I’m open to anything and everything. People from other states are watching my film too, and if someone likes it and wants to meet me for work, I will,” he says.

The actor-writer looks up to a lot of people when it comes to cinema. From the Akhtar siblings to Seth Rogen to ‘Victory’ Venkatesh and Mathhew McConaughney. “I also like Steven Speilberg—if you give him a forest, an army base and a shady neighbourhood, he’ll make a film out of it! Inspiration is everywhere, you just need to look hard enough to find it,” he signs off

Featured Image: Special Arrangement

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