Whether you choose to love him for his positive roles or hate him for his intimidating villain side, there’s no ignoring Jagapathi Babu. Imposing with his presence on the silver screen, the star, who played the role of a cold-blooded terrorist in the recent Telugu film Goodachari, has marked a career spanning 30 years. Sharing that Vizag has been his city of destiny, the superstar gets candid with Teja Kovvali, as he talks about his filmography, comebacks, and more.
Vizag: The city of dreams and destiny
“I was so determined on becoming an actor that I used to secretly dress up and pose as NTR and ANR for amateur photoshoots at the rock garden on the Beach Road.”
While his stint in Vizag was only four years long, he shares that the city witnessed many interesting twists and turns take place in his life. In fact, it was here that his film career had taken its first step.
Having joined his father’s furniture business in the city to escape from studies, he would earn Rs 2500 a month, which would then be squandered quickly. It was while working here that he was constantly encouraged by some stalwarts of the industry to try his luck in films. While these plans were not initially approved by his family, Jagapathi Babu was determined on making it big as an actor and persisted with his attempts. After a few incidences of despair and almost giving up, things fell into place with his debut film’s first shot being filmed in Araku.
As the actor stays in Hyderabad, today, he reminisces about Vizag with fondness. “The city was the place where I forged a long-lasting friendship with my wife, making it all the more special,” he says. He also adds that he can never stop loving the city’s deep blue waters, lush green hills, and the stunning Bheemili Road, sandwiched in the middle. “Vizag is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Araku, especially, is a lovely place with huge potential as a tourist destination. By the way, I’m even planning on building a guest house atop a hill in Araku and staying there”, he shares.
Facts you didn’t know
To know about the ordeals of hunger, Jagapathi Babu, during his stay in Vizag, went without food and survived just on water for three straight days.
Whenever in the city, he loves visiting Waltair Club and still gets in touch with his good pals from the
Sheer magnetism of Jaggu Bhai
“The worse I’m looking, the more people are liking me!”
Candid about how the audience appreciates him more as he ages, Jagapathi Babu’s magnetism grows stronger with every film he shoots for. Sporting a salt and pepper hairstyle and fashionable in whatever he wears, whether it be traditional or western, Jagapathi Babu carries himself with elan. While you wonder what dominates his fashion choices, he’s quick to put that myth to rest. His style lies in choosing comfort over the latest trends, he shares. His fitness mantra is following old-school practices of Yoga or Ayurveda, and he adds that meditation and asanas work wonders in relieving all stress and pressure.
30 and going strong
“The experiences of being in front of a camera, to watch yourself on screen and to be watched by millions of people across the globe are truly inexplicable.”
With a career spanning 30 years, this 56-year-old actor shares that cinema for him is pure magic. Having grown up listening to stories and watching cinema, being before a camera and seeing himself on the screen is fascinating, he reflects. Owing his success to the unceasing love and support provided by fans and family, Jagapathi Babu says that he could not have asked for more.
Ups and downs
“I have always believed that rules need to be bent and this reflects in my choices; be it my preference for family-oriented scripts when the trend was for mass cinema or my transformation as a character artist.”
From playing a hero to taking up supporting roles, the transformation was a decision that he consciously made. A few years before Legend happened, Jagapathi Babu felt that his time as a lead actor was over and there was no point waiting, especially, with new talent entering the industry. Accepting different roles that came his way, thus became his strategy. In fact, even when he was being chosen to be the main lead, he selected to play second fiddle roles in films like ‘Anthapuram’ and ‘Anukokunda Oka Roju’, because he loved those characters. Having recently worked on a web series too, he now plans to take up parallel cinema and art.
With all this, his goal, he shares, is to accomplish the unique feat of working in all Indian languages. While he’d love to do a Hollywood cinema if it comes his way, Jagapathi Babu is pretty clear that production and direction aren’t his strengths. On being asked, he candidly quips, “I neither have the capabilities of a Director nor the business acumen of a Producer. Acting in front of a camera is what I know and I’m very happy in the current space.”
Facts you didn’t know
Jagapathi Babu has acted in all the South Indian languages and will soon be seen donning different avatars in other regional films as well.
When Jagapathi Babu dubbed for The BFG in Telugu, he didn’t charge any remuneration. Instead, he asked for a favour in return- to arrange a meet with Steven Spielberg whenever possible. The actor still awaits his fanboy moment.
“In my early days, I went through a rough patch and learnt lessons in many ways.”
Mentally prepared about the challenges he was likely to face even before entering the industry, he’s a believer of valuing the experience. He shares the incident of his first film, ‘Simha Swapnam’ bombing at the box office, and how it crushed his initial dreams of becoming a superstar. However, instead of being distressed at the failure, he partied the cause, as his outlook is that failures are valuable experiences.
Not just this, in fact his entire career has been one of constant comebacks. Had he held on to his tag of hero, he would have gone bankrupt, he shares. Believing that every time a door closes, another one opens, Jagapathi Babu feels that it’s important to realise that everyone gets a chance at some point or another. “One just needs to keep working hard for the chance and grab it with both hands, when it arrives”, he signs off.
Jaggu Bhai says:
“Life is simple. It is we who make it complicated.”
“Not one. There are many brilliant directors with whom I’ve worked.”
“That’s again a tough one to answer. But If I had to choose one, I would probably go with Anthapuram.”
Favourite Holiday Destination
Phaneendra Bhupati (Rangasthalam) or Rana (Goodachari)?