Telugu actor Mahesh Babu made his first onscreen appearance at the age of four, in the 1979 movie Needa. Since then, he has been a part of hugely successful movies such as Athadu, Pokiri and Dookudu, earning the nickname 'Prince of Tollywood'. After a three-year hiatus, Babu was last seen making his Tamil film debut with AR Murgadoss' thriller Spyder. Ahead of his next release, the political thriller Bharat Ane Nenu, directed by Koratala Siva, we revisit an interview he did with Film Companion last year, when he spoke about his family life and why he considers social media to be a double-edged sword. Here are the four things he said shaped his career:
1. The three-year break he took from 2007 to 2010
The pressure got to me. I'd delivered one of the biggest hits at that time, called Pokiri. It was a phenomenal blockbuster at that time. Salman (Khan) remade it as Wanted. The movie took me to another level. Then, I lost my grandmother, who was very close to me. (My wife) Namrata's parents passed away that same year. So everything was happening at the time and I didn't know what films to do, what kind of a performance to come up with, how to satisfy my fans. My son was eight or nine months old at the time. So I said, 'I'll take a six month break' and spend time with them. That six months became three years. I learnt a lot, matured, then knew what to do exactly.
2. His directors
I follow the director. Once I okay the story, once I okay the project, I blindly follow my director. I've always done that. That way, I've come up with something new for every film. Sometimes I've fallen, things didn't work out but sometimes things have worked out brilliantly for me. So I follow my director. I'm still insecure, to be honest. Even now, when I go to my set, I really don't know what I'm doing. That's why I completely surrender myself to the director.
3. His father
He's an amazing father. I remember when I was young, I did a lot of films as a child star and some of them were huge hits. Every summer holiday, he would take me to Ooty to do a film, which he would direct. Every April-May, we would go do a film. Before I knew it, I was a huge child star. I missed a year in school so he said, 'Okay, you go back. Finish your college. Then come back and start acting.' So he actually planned my career so beautifully that I'm blessed to have a father like him.
4. Social media
For me, Twitter is for communicating with my fans about my work. Communicating a film to the audience is a boon. It's a two-edged sword. If the film is brilliant, if it's working, social media is going to help you. If your film is not working, social media is going to kill you.