Sandy: A Comic Hero Who Has Played A Gangster and Telangana’s Che
There is an intensity in 'Sandy' (Sandeep) Madhav's bearing that seems to make filmmakers want to cast him in roles so layered they need to be real. He debuted in Puri Jagannath's Jyothi Lakshmi (2015), which was a raunchy comedy. And then came Ram Gopal Varma's Vangaveeti (2016), a bloody saga of the political rise and fall of Vangaveeti Radha, a real life gangster in Vijayawada. The character was cult and the movie was a hit.
Sandy returns to the biopic genre with George Reddy, set in Hyderabad's Osmania University of the late 60s and 70s. He plays the titular character who was the college gold medalist, a kick boxing champion, and a revolutionary whose death inspired the PDSU (Progressive Democratic Students Union), which is a students' political union.
George Reddy is the most recent in a string of films inspired by the character, like Ram Gopal Varma's debut and cult hit Shiva (1990), Alajadi (1990), Josh (2009) and the one that started it all, Yuvataram Kadilindi (1980).
The Quint caught up with the actor, who speaks on his craft, George Reddy and how he walked around with a blade in his mouth.
How different is your character in Vangaveeti to George Reddy?
Sandeep Madhav: Well they're both completely different characters and stories. Also when it came to portraying them.
We would have meetings before the shoot every morning with the local MLAs and bigwigs. In George Reddy, the director had created a college campus atmosphere. We'd come to the shooting spot, and I'd feel like a college student. Not just me but all of the others as well. There was minimal contact with the outside world.I enjoyed the feeling of going back to college.
There’s only one video of George Reddy, right at the end of a Films Division documentary. How did you prepare for and play him?
Sandeep Madhav: It took some research. I had to read up a lot, more than just imitating him from the video. The director spoke to me about George Reddy. A number of people would tell me stories about him, and I would learn from these. Also, from his photographs I studied his body language, and surmised that this is how he would have walked.
You see, he was a kick boxer, and that is something that needed to come through. So I trained for six months in kick boxing.
And he also carried weapons. You see, in those days those in power in college, were untouchable. And those who were weak had to have weapons, or they were in danger. So George Reddy carried weapons that he made himself. He was actually using blades right from childhood. It somehow...he had it from the beginning. There’s a scene in the trailer where he had a blade in the mouth -
Yes, that must have needed some training!
Sandeep Madhav: Well it did. I too am used to other stuff in college, but with George Reddy, it was blades. So all of this I brought into the character. And then of course, I studied that one video clip over and over to get the accent right.
How did Vangaveeti happen? Given that you don’t exactly have a film background or a Godfather?
Sandeep Madhav: I started off with a Puri Jagannath film Jyothi Lakshmi. I bumped into RGV quite a few times while shooting there.
And he told me the story. The costume trial worked, and so it happened.You could say my Godfather is Puri Jagannath. I belong to his school. And then Jeevan (director of George Reddy) is also a good friend. So that's how it all happened.
Both Vangaveeti and George Reddy aren’t masala or mass Telugu films. Is this the way you see your career go?
Sandeep Madhav: Well in Joythi Lakshmi I did comedy, throughout the film. I actually love doing comedy, and I don't intend being typecast into only one genre. I'm grateful for the fact that Vangaveeti and George Reddy happened!
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