Edited excerpts from an interview between Mahesh Babu and Hemanth Kumar:
There's a dialogue in Maharshi, your forthcoming release where you say, "success is a journey. There are no full stops, only commas." When you think about your own career, have you felt you hit a full stop somewhere?
Never ever. My entire career has been beautiful. Right from my childhood, till now, I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It's a continuous process and like I've said before, I wan't to act in films, even when I'm a hundred years old.
There has been a consistent theme in your recent films such as Srimanthudu, Maharshi and even Bharath Ane Nenu, where you play a rich, powerful person who goes back to a village to solve a problem. Do you see this as a new stage of heroism?
You're right to an extent but Maharshi is not about a rich guy coming back to a village. It's the entire journey of a character. It starts off in college, where he's just a middle-class boy who aims to become big and then he does. He becomes a CEO and comes back. It's a new film for me. I think it's a content-rich film. In my career I haven't seen another film that's so beautifully told, because it has a lot of depth and a powerful message. It also has the everything a commercial film needs. It's very difficult to do a film such as this without compromising on those commercial elements. Hat's off to the team for doing it.
In terms of content, what made Maharshi relevant to you?
Not only me. Tomorrow when the audience watches it, they will relate to it as well. It's a semi biopic. The theme of the film is the difference between material success and emotional success.
It's interesting you point out that difference. In an age when we don't know how to define success, have you ever wondered about its true meaning or what it means to you?
You have to have that hunger to succeed. I'm still very insecure and that's a good thing. You can't just say I'm successful and lay back. Because every Friday, something gets decided here. I'm very insecure and that's keeps me driven.
In terms of the quantity of success?
About success, my career, about the films I'm doing.
What keeps you on your toes? Is it the fear of failure?
It's the fear of everything. Every film is new. That's the beauty of filmmaking. What you've done before…nobody cares. Now, something new is happening and that's where all the attention is.
I've heard a lot of younger actors say that you can't blame them for bad films because they're only choosing from what they get.
You said it yourself. They're young.
You're on top of they pyramid with the best talents and offers. How does it work for you? Is it tough to find the right story?
It's not about that. It's about your judgement. It's all about the story If the story is brilliant, 80 percent of the work is done. Executing the story is just 20 percent. In my case, I've made mistakes but you learn from them.
Where does Maharshi fit into that larger picture?
Like I said before, I heard the script two years ago. I was in two minds to do the film or not because I had two or three commitments. But an hour into the narration and I knew I had to do it. So I asked him if he could wait for two years and he said yes. I have to give it to him. I don't think any other director would have waited. He said Maharshi can only be done by me so he waited. I was very grateful and also a bit scared if I could live up to it.