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Birthday Interview of producer-publisher Suresh Kondeti

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Suresh Kondeti started out as a journalist in the 1990s. Since then, he has been a distributor, producer, publisher, and prominent film industry taskmaster. As Kondeti turns a year older on October 6, he talks about his journey thus far, his association with big names such as Chiranjeevi, the MAA elections, the coming edition of Santosham Film Awards, and more.

It was after the release of 'Magadheera' that I first celebrated my birthday (October 6) amid media glare, thanks to Allu Aravind garu. I will never forget that day, which is when I realized that I had become a celebrity. I entered the industry with the aim of becoming an actor. I was lean and dark-complexioned. Since I was passionate about acting, I didn't realize that I didn't have it in me.

I published a special book at the time of the release of 'Telugu Veera Levara', which was Superstar Krishna garu's 300th film. I used to be a fan of Krishna garu before becoming Chiranjeevi garu's fan as a teenager. My association with the Megastar happened on the occasion. The book made me a sought-after name in film industry circles. I landed a job at Vaartha (Telugu daily) in 1996.

I have received encouragement from the likes of not just Chiranjeevi garu but also Balakrishna garu and Nagarjuna garu. I started a distribution company on my wife's name and distributed a lot of movies from early 2000s. I was associated with 'Student No. 1', which was Rajamouli garu's first movie. I bought 'Idiot' for Rs 23 lakh and made Rs 1 Cr on it. It was a big thing those days. Thanks to Nagarjuna garu's support, I went on to distribute 'Santosham'. It's after the movie's name that I went on to name my film magazine. I shelled out more than what the producer had expected to acquire rights to 'Santosham', the film. I made double the investment on it.

I have distributed movies across territories (Godavari districts, Nizam, etc). My magazine 'Santosham' has been very successful. The first anniversary event was graced by Nagarjuna garu as the chief guest, who encouraged me to set up Santosham Film Awards. The Awards have been given every year for the past 20 years.

The next edition of the Santosham Film Awards will be a grand one this year and will be held in November.

I secured a box office hit with 'Tagore', thanks to Chiranjeevi garu's support. It was his wish that I distribute the movie. It was a dream-come-true moment for me. I paid an advance of Rs 25 lakh to buy it. 'Tagore' is the only movie that ran for 17 centres in West Godavari in the history of Telugu cinema. 'Gharshana', 'Allari Ramudu', 'Palanati Brahmanaidu', among others, were distributed by me. I turned a producer with 'Premisthe' as per the wish of Chiranjeevi garu. It was a big hit. 'Journey' and 'Pizza' followed.

I am producing and acting in a couple of movies. 'Erra Cheera', etc. are among my upcoming ones.

I came from a middle-class family. I used to stay at Musheerabad after I migrated to Hyderabad. My mess bill used to be meagre.

I have been associated with film bodies such as MAA and Producers Council. I have never made a single rupee from MAA. It is me who has always spent for MAA. I have been a taskmaster as well. For the past 5 years, I have donated up to Rs 5-6 lakh every year to poor artists at Santosham Film Awards ceremonies. Each rupee was sponsored by me.

Whoever wins the MAA elections this year, I will work for MAA. Service is my only motto. I have been one of the members of the Executive Committee of MAA for the past 6 years.

I didn't leak any content from the recent General Body Meeting of MAA. I was at Chiranjeevi garu's residence as his PRO during the meeting. Why would I leak the content selectively? I didn't even participate in the meeting. I know to what extent information has to be parted with the media. Some things are meant to be disseminated internally and not with the media. I know the boundaries.

Compared to other languages, Telugu media is very responsible. I am a publisher myself and have also been working for a prominent TV channel.

Work is my only addiction. I don't drink, I don't smoke. So, I always use my time to work. Santosham magazine has been published without a gap even during the pandemic. Just that we had to go for only the web version during the lockdown.

I had entered the film industry with Dasari Narayana Rao garu as the biggest inspiration. He was a multi-faceted personality.  

Updated on October 5, 2021