Besides all the material comforts in the world, star kids are born with an easy launch pad to fame and adulation handed on a platter. How then, can the son or daughter of a superstar be anything but happy? “It depends on what your definition of happiness is,” counters Manjula Ghattamaneni, Tollywood filmmaker, daughter of the legendary actor Krishna and elder sister of Superstar Mahesh Babu.
“I was born in this privileged family. My father was a huge star and my brothers were actors. I wanted to be an actress as well but it didn’t materialize owing to the mindset of fans, social conventions or call it whatever you will, at that point in time.
I was really frustrated. Acting ran in the family and here I was, unable to do the thing I loved. So I wasn’t exactly happy then, if I were to go by your definition of happiness,” says Manjula with a smile.
Eventually, years down the line, she turned producer and realized her acting dream by playing the female lead in the film Show, a role which won her a lot of acclaim.
The movie bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film (Telugu) and director Neelakantha took home the Best Screenplay award.
“Despite several attempts to become an actor, I never really could become one in the proper sense of the word. It was one thing to be
a failure but being denied an opportunity itself was another thing all together.
I thought it was because of my family, my father’s fans, the society… et al. Then I realized the real reason — it was Me.
I stopped myself. The minute I took responsibility, I felt empowered and started to look within. That’s when I found my heart and felt truly free for the first time in my life,” she recalls.
Manjula believes that every person has a purpose in life and a unique talent to fulfill that.
She has now set her sights on helping others translate their dreams into reality, through her social media campaign: ‘Follow Your Heart’ — Manasuki Nacchindi.
“Life has gotten so fast-paced today that people have no time to connect with their inner self. A majority are stuck in jobs they do not like, leading lives that they actually despise.
The only way out of this rut is to follow your heart. When people do what they love, magic happens, everything else falls into place and it reflects in the environment around us.
I want this campaign to metamorphosis into a platform that will help people to find what they really love and follow their true calling,” says Manjula.
Whether it is “a 17-year-old old boy from an underprivileged family who wants to become a musician or a poor girl who wants to become a singer but is about to get forcibly married” everybody has it in them to achieve their dreams.
“A million people may join this campaign or just ten, but if it makes a difference to the life of even a single person, I would consider it a success,” she says in her confident, yet unassuming style.
On the professional front, she’s now taken a big step forward by turning a director with the upcoming Sundeep Kishen-Amyra Dastur-starrer. The desire to turn to direction is an extension of her love for acting.
“I enjoyed acting thoroughly but realised that even acting was living out someone else’s vision. I wanted to be a storyteller. I knew I was in the right medium (films) but I had to choose a different way of expression,” she says.
Following this moment of epiphany, she communicated her decision to her father and Mahesh. “My father is a very positive person and he has this unquestioning faith in me.
Mahesh listened to me and he was like…. ‘Do you know that direction is not a piece of cake, that it’s an extremely tough job’? But during the course of our conversation, he sensed the passion in me, and he encouraged me as well. They know the basic premise of my film, that’s all. I wanted it to be my baby.”
Now, that the film’s shooting is over, does she agree with Mahesh’s ‘direction is not an easy thing?’ retort? “No!” she says laughing. “Right from the first shot, I felt liberated. Like I’d found my calling,” she adds signing off.
– TIMES OF INDIA