Maharshi, the new Mahesh Babu starrer is looking at shattering all previous records in Telugu cinema. And for the first time, Mahesh is celebrating. He is at a promotional event with his director Vamshi Paidipally when I catch him for a conversation. Sounding happy, Mahesh Babu says, “The numbers (at the box office) have surprised us. They’re far bigger than we imagined. The message of going back to our roots and to give farming and farmers the respect they deserve has hit home, I guess.”
So is Maharshi going to be Mahesh Babu’s biggest film to date? “It could be. I’d like it to be. And it’s showing every sign of breaking my own records. I’ve to admit I am very happy and relieved. When the initial reviews came out, my director and I were disappointed. The critics didn’t seem to get the point. We didn’t make this film only to entertain. We also wanted the message of reclaiming our agricultural heritage to come through. And it has, in spite of the discouraging reviews,” says Mahesh as he thanks all his fans and well-wishers through this interview.
What is the one big lesson that he has learned from the Maharshi experience? “You mean, besides the message that the script conveys? Beyond that I’ve learnt how important it is for me to go out there and tell my audience why they need to see a film. It isn’t enough to just make a good film. You have to promote it. It’s like getting your feet in the soil to understand what farming is all about. You have to be out in the field to convince people. So I’ve learnt to be more accessible to the public.”
Mahesh says he had full faith in the subject. “We had set out to tell a story in all sincerity. When I heard the subject two years ago I was completely hooked. I knew I had to do this film. It meant a lot to me. And I am glad it means a lot to my audience. I am grateful to the audience for embracing the idea of reclaiming our heritage.”
Mahesh Babu wants his cinema to reflect a socio-cultural reality. “I think cinema is a very important tool of statement and reform. Why not use it properly?” And yes, another film with the Maharshi director Vamshi Paidipally is in the offing.