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Anand Deverakonda Breaks New Ground with ‘Gam Gam Ganesha’

In a fictional village near Kurnool, a small-time thief gets caught in a web of conspiracies, leading to a whirlwind of crime and comedy. ‘Gam Gam Ganesha,’ written and directed by debutant Uday Shetty, showcases actor Anand Deverakonda in a more vivacious light than his previous ‘man-next-door’ roles. Deverakonda sat down for an interview in Hyderabad ahead of the film’s release set for May 31, discussing the transformative experience of delving into a character far removed from his natural state of calmness.

“Gam Gam… is far removed from my default state of calmness. There is an energetic side of me that comes out only in the company of close buddies. In this film, I sport spiked hair, a tattoo, and I am extremely hyper,” the actor divulged. Initially concerned about audience reception, he turned those fears into motivational factors to embrace something new. “Such questions stemmed from fear, and I used them as motivational factors to do something new.”

The genesis of ‘Gam Gam Ganesha’ occurred while ‘Middle Class Melodies’ was still in production. By this time, Anand had found his footing after initial jitters during his debut in ‘Dorasaani’. Reflecting on his career trajectory, he notes that his initial roles were serendipitously grounded in reality. “In ‘Middle Class Melodies,’ Vinod (director Vinod Anantoju) gave me a placid character that required me to play it on an even keel,” he said. Anand emphasized his soft spot for realistic narratives, further showcased in the subdued emotionality in ‘Baby’.

Uday Shetty, renowned for his writing under veterans Vijayendra Prasad and K V Anudeep, makes his directorial debut with ‘Gam Gam Ganesha’. The film is often compared to Telugu hits like ‘Swamy Ra Ra,’ ‘Run Raja Run,’ and ‘Express Raja,’ but Anand revealed a mix of unique inspirations from ‘Rango,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ during the brainstorming sessions. “There were small inspirations in terms of the mood we tried to achieve. Uday, Emmanuel (co-star), and I discussed quite a bit to get the right wavelength,” shared Anand.

Anand, who balanced a corporate career before transitioning to cinema, echoed his disinterest in vanity from those days. “I would look into the mirror only when I needed to shave during my corporate job. Even today, I do not have the urge to check my makeup and hair just before going for a shot or checking the monitor after I am done. I rely on the director to tell me if things are fine,” he stated, contrasting his approach to that of his brother, Vijay Deverakonda, who meticulously reviews each shot.

This lack of vanity helped Anand overcome initial camera consciousness. Feeling more at ease since ‘Middle Class Melodies,’ he recalls, “My dad would say that when things click, you stop worrying about the angle from which you are filmed.” This advice freed him to not worry about how he looked on camera, be it crying or laughing. “In ‘Baby,’ there were three sequences in which I had to cry, and Sai Rajesh planned each one differently. Sometimes it is like a batsman finding his form.

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The conversation often veered back to ‘Baby’. Though ‘Middle Class Melodies’ received significant praise, it premiered digitally during the pandemic while ‘Baby’ became a theatrical blockbuster. While acknowledging the diverse reactions it garnered, Anand has learned to take social media comments with a pinch of salt.

Regarding a particularly controversial scene in ‘Baby’ where he uses a cuss word against the female protagonist, Anand shared that it was debated robustly before filming. “We thoroughly discussed if that word should be used. Sai Rajesh felt my character would react that way given his background. Our intention was never to celebrate or promote it,” he clarified.

Production on ‘Gam Gam Ganesha’ began in May 2022, overlapping with his work on ‘Baby’. Anand mentioned that ‘Gam Gam’ was a more lighthearted project compared to the emotionally intensive ‘Baby’. The film doesn’t center entirely around him but involves multiple characters, with the narrative divided into three chapters — fear (bhayam), greed (ati aasa), and conspiracy (kutra). “I worked with Vennela Kishore anna for the first time and asked him for his candid thoughts on the film. He was appreciative of the detailed script with well-written scenes and dialogues. The comedy in this film is situational. I think the plot twists and the comedy will hook the audiences,” Anand remarked.

Anand has always been clear that stardom is not his primary goal. He reiterated this even after ‘Baby’ grossed over ₹100 crores. He admires actors like Dhanush who straddle both mainstream and offbeat films. “If my taste in cinema translates into success and more people want to watch me as a star, maybe it will happen 10 years down the line. I am in no rush,” he said.

Regarding life with two actors under one roof, Anand highlighted their strong support system. “There is gloom for a couple of days when a film that we hoped would work, doesn’t. But we have a good support system; our parents don’t let us brood for long. We take up physical activity or begin focusing on the next film because there is nothing we can do with what has already happened.”

Anand’s future projects include ‘Duet’ with Studio Green, another film with Sai Rajesh, and an action entertainer helmed by Vinod Anantoju. With an exciting lineup and a grounded approach to his craft, Anand Deverakonda appears ready for more memorable contributions to the Telugu film industry.

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