A starmaker par excellence, Lanka Satyanand has quietly been flying under the radar, churning out many heroes and artists, who have carved a niche for themselves in tinsel town. Team Yo! interacts with the man behind the talent of all the biggies ruling Tollywood right now.
1960’s Love Story!
Lanka Satyanand is a thorough theatre man. His love for theatre and acting started rather early. “I started my career in theatre as a child artist at an age of 7 in 1967, with mere inspiration from my maternal uncle Y.S. Raju who used to direct plays, and notable theatre personalities Attli Krishna Rao, Chatla Sriramulu and J.V.Somayajulu”, he says. He succumbed to success instantly and was adjudged as the ‘Best Child Actor’ in different Indian states and also at the All India Drama competitions on approximately 40 occasions.
“Theatre is my dream. I used to work for 18 long hours and return home at midnight 3’o clock only to find women in my neighbourhood forming a beeline for drinking water, waiting for tankers. Things were such way back then, and I would often get weird looks from them as they perhaps wondered if I was a drunkard roaming aimlessly till dawn. Working till wee hours and sneaking in was my daily routine. If I was not lucky enough to get into the house, I would lie down on the floor in the verandah”. That was the passion he had about theatre since then, he shares reminiscently.
Captain Of The Ship!
He donned the director cap and has directed many plays as a stage director for the theatre group ‘Kalajyothsna’, Visakhapatnam since 1975. Emerging victorious 98 times as the best director in ‘All India Drama Competitions’, Satyanand smiles with pride and joy, as he happily walks us through a trophy-filled room.
Films? By Chance!
“Impressed by my work, senior director Jandhyala popularly known as ‘Haasya Brahma’, roped me in, as an Assistant Director for the film, ‘Malle Pandiri’. After a few more such trysts with the film industry, Satyanand became a name firmly imbedded in the minds of the directing and acting fraternity. Ace Director Vamsi roped him in as Associate Director during the filming of the movie ‘Manchu Pallaki’ in Vizag starring Chiranjeevi. Few more avatars as co-director and writer for a number of films helped him get a foothold as the most humble and devoted person in the fraternity.
From theatre to a Star-Maker
Moving up from one department to another, the idea of star-making soon came up. “Chiranjeevi has an eye for detail. While shooting for ‘Manchu Pallaki’ during the early 1980s, he noticed me giving instructions to the artistes, which I am a pro at, as I used to train many theatre artists. He evinced keen interest in my work and learnt about my stage performances and my successful experiments with new artistes. But it came as a surprise even to me, when the megastar contacted me to train his brother Pawan Kalyan. I am happy that he’s doing so great now”, recalls Satyanand. This marked the beginning of Satyanand’s career as a ‘Star Maker’.
Acting Institute Shaped Up!
Overwhelmed by the number of requests, Satyanand shifted over from just dabbling in the movie world to seriously teaching the fine points of acting to the aspiring hopefuls. The list includes prestigious names like Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, Ravi Teja, Sharwanand, Aadi and Tamil actors ‘Jayam’ Ravi, Aadi Pinisetti, Vaibhav etc. to name a few. “I worked as a faculty member in the Theatre Arts Department of Andhra University, and quit my job in 2002 to start a full-fledged acting institute”, he says.
On Silver Screen!
“I am a shy person by nature which is my big time weakness. I can never go and tell people that I have a story to narrate nor can I ask them to give me an opportunity even though they are my students. If I get a chance, maybe I’ll grab it for good. Acting on big screen never fascinated me. Not even once did I think about appearing on big screen. Recently, a very good friend of mine insisted that I play a negative role for his film ‘Oka Criminal Premakatha’, for which I couldn’t say no. Though the film bombed at box-office, my character was critically acclaimed and positive responses showered from the industry. At the same time, some people even stopped talking to me for the negative impact I created by portraying that character”.
It’s All About The School!
‘Satyanand Film Training Institute’ located in the cellar of a non-descript apartment complex in a by-lane at Jagadamba junction, has become one of the most sought-after film training institutes. When quizzed about how it all has started, Satyanand says, “It was an unexpected entry. The success of big names triggered more people to take up the course to pursue their passion and make it their profession. I concentrate on the syllabus that is something not available on Internet or acquired from books. I have created the syllabus entirely from my theatre, films and writing experiences. I envisage the student’s interest, skill and talent and mould it accordingly. So there’s no particular hard copy of syllabus that I follow. It’s all based out of sheer experience and talent”.
Quest For Acting!
Strictly determined and hardworking in nature, Satyanand trains small batches of cine field aspirants in an intensive three-month course. The zeal to work hard and reach heights is very important for a person to withstand the industry he says. After all, luck plays a pivotal role too. “I’ve produced 95 artists so far, and am all set to hit the century soon”. He smiles as he signs off.