At the movies

Sampoornesh, Tollywood’s Burning Star & Laugh riot

On Sunday, a record was created by Telugu cinema. A scene with a dialogue lasting 3 minutes 27 seconds was reeled off in one shot in Telugu film `Kobbari Matta’ which releases on 10 August. This, the makers of the movie claim, is the longest single shot dialogue ever recorded in the world’s history.

The film stars Sampoornesh Babu, who is known for his comic timing and spoofs and is a huge hit on the social media in Telugu. `Kobbari Matta’ that means coconut bark/stem stars Sampoornesh, affectionately called Sampoo by his peers in the industry, in a triple role – Pedarayudu, Paparayudu and Androidu. 

T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Sampoornesh Babu on his fascinating journey from a small village in Telangana to the big screen, setting a new record and why he goes by the fancy title of `Burning Star’.

Sudhir : Since the film dialogue trailer released on Sunday, you tweeted that it has clocked over 20 lakh views in 12 hours. The social media in Telugu is indeed abuzz with your 3.27 min dialogue. Whose idea was it?

Sampoornesh : It was the idea of Steven Shankar, who directed my earlier movie Hrudaya Kaleyam. He is the writer-cum-producer of Kobbari Matta, this movie which features this 3.27 min long dialogue. About one a half years ago, we had released a dialogue that went on for approximately 90 seconds. It got lot of appreciation so Shankar suggested we break our own record.

Sudhir : How long did it take for you to remember the lines?

Sampoornesh : I practised the dialogues for ten days. We also had a workshop to ensure I maintained the same energy and expression throughout the scene. We were clear that my face should not be dull even for a moment. The speed of delivering the dialogue and modulation were important.

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Sudhir : What has been the feedback you received since it was released?

Sampoornesh : Yesterday evening, I received a call from Mohan Babu, my inspiration, my Guru, the person because of who I came into films. He told me that my dialogue delivery was exceptional. He told me I am blessed, he gave me his blessings and said God be with you. I am like a family member to him. 

Sudhir : You come from a non-filmy background in rural Telangana. If you consider that, yours has been an exceptional journey. Sampoornesh Babu today is a phenomenon despite being just half a dozen movies old.

Sampoornesh : (laughs) Thanks. I come from a small village called Mittapally in Siddipet district. I studied only up till class 10 and dropped out because of financial problems in our family. We are goldsmiths so I have dabbled in gold work with my father and brother. 

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Sudhir : Pardon my asking but how young are you now?

Sampoornesh : (laughs) Why Sir to mention the age ! (laughs)

Sudhir : Fair enough. So how did the break in Telugu films happen?

Sampoornesh : Shankar spotted me at a film function, he was looking for someone who looked very different from other actors. I was obviously interested. I used to act like Mohan Babu and say his lines back in my village. I was given a 5 second role in a movie called `Mahatma’ that released in 2009. That was followed by Hrudaya Kaleyam that featured me in the lead role. 

Sudhir : Then you did Singham 123, which was inspired by Suriya’s Singham series. In that your tagline was `Sensational Seductive Supercop’ ! And even as Sampoornesh became a popular name among viewers who loved a good laugh, interestingly this is not your original name either.

Sampoornesh : Yes, my real name is Narasimha Chary. Shankar rechristened me, saying we need a new Babu after Mohan Babu, Mahesh Babu etc. (laughs)

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Sudhir : In south Indian cinema, there is a fascination for giving fancy titles. Like Megastar for Chiranjeevi, Superstar for Rajinikanth, Powerstar for Pawan Kalyan, Collection King for Mohan Babu. But Burning Star for you sounds rather fiery !

Sampoornesh : My fans gave me the title. Because all my trailers would get huge number of views of YouTube.

Sudhir : Yes, you quite set the internet on fire. How has life changed in the last decade, from a 5 second blink-and-miss role to doing a triple role in a movie. How has the Telugu film industry treated you?

Sampoornesh : Pretty well. Life is totally different. A small man from a small village with the blessings of people, has become a big man. 

Sudhir : But I have heard tales about how you keep your feet firmly on the ground. You still occasionally travel by bus back to your home in Siddipet

Sampoornesh : Yes, I have an Ecosport SUV now but if the driver is not available, I just go to the Bus station and hop on to a bus from there. No issues.

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