30 year old Naveen Chintapandu alias Mallanna is easily the most talked about journo in Telangana today. He plays ‘Mallanna’ in Channel V6’s runaway hit show TeenMaar and is also the creative force behind it. Telangana Talkies got hold of him for Tete-a-tete over what made his character ‘Mallanna’ such a household name in every Telangana home.
Q: How are you enjoying the success of ‘Teenmaar’? How has the response been?
A: I feel good about it. I get lots of calls from even old women who never watched news that they see my program regularly. One fan from Suryapet even said he removed Sun Direct as it doesn’t show V6 and instead got cable to see Teenmaar! So many said they will miss the program if they don’t see it for a day as Mallanna gives them a feeling of a village neighbor stepping in their home for a casual chat. I feel happy with the response.
Q: What was the most pleasant experience you have had with success of Mallanna character?
A: I was at a barber shop last week for a haircut and the barber, despite a chance of losing me as customer, was requesting to wait for 5 min as he is watching Teenmaar, which was about to end! Of course, please don’t recognize me outside due to difference in my program getup and the original me. If they come to know, then usually they would express shock and surprise.
Q: You are a 30 year old playing that older character in that attire. Whose idea was that attire?
A: It is my CEO Ravi Ankam Sir’s idea as there seemed to be someone nearer his home in childhood who used to dress and talk like that.
Q: How did TeenMaar happen? Tell us briefly about it.
A: Times have changed in the internet age. We don’t need to tell news. The viewer already knows it by the time our episode is aired. Instead, we need to reflect what people think and feel about the news and that made me come up with this idea. I shared this with CEO Ravi Ankam Sir and Programming head Damodar anna and they liked it. With some minor changes, in about 2 months, the pilot episode was ready and was the biggest success of V6.
Q: Briefly tell us your personal background and your career in journalism.
A: I am from Madhapur village in Nalgonda. My parents are Chintapandu Bagaiah and Jaanamma. I studied in ZPHS in my village till 10th class and was parallely working as a paperboy for pocket money. My father was in milk business and he used to read newspaper relaxedly everyday in our aaram chair at home. That made an impression on me as a child that newspaper is something important and later while working as a paperboy for agent Vital Sharma, I used to be the first reader early in the morning and used to tell our village related stories, if there are any that day, to subscribers while delivering the paper. Maybe that’s my first newsreader experience! I completed my Intermediate in Hyderabad, working as a journalist. For some family reasons, I had to return to my village and work as an electrician for few years before I went and did my Degree in Bhuvanagiri. I met Buchchaih sir there who used to write columns in major telugu dailies and he encouraged me to take up political science for my career in journalism. I came to Hyderabad and did my PG in political science while working for various media organizations. I always had an enthusiasm for learning new things and that made me do MBA too as we also had a fee reimbursement program going on then and I too had plenty of time to study something new.
Q: For which organizations did you work in media and how V6 has been different for you?
A: I started in 2002 with Andhra Prabha, then worked in Andhra Bhoomi, I-News, NTV, GEMINI and then came to V6 in 2011 Oct. I think I was only the 2nd reporter recruited in V6 then. I never got a chance to innovate and contribute in previous channels. That was bothering me and i felt V6 would definitely be different and cannot be biased as it is our Telangana channel. Also, I was pained with some anti-Telangana propaganda in earlier channels. In that sense, today when I work at V6, i feel at home. I and my colleagues never work as if we have a 8 hour duty. We forget time at V6 and work as we feel its our own channel. That is the case with not just me, but everyone.
Q: How did you get a chance to innovate at V6? Explain your experience there?
A: I just asked CEO Ravi Ankam Sir to give me a chance so that i can prove something. He gave me a chance with creative ideas and I tried. I don’t know whether I met his expectations but I still feel I have a lot to do. My initial program was Jajjanakari Janare based on the idea that we people should be seen playing the politicians with comic criticism. It was a success and bought some name to V6. Then we wanted something bigger and TeenMaar happened and took V6 completely into public. I am happy our team won appreciation for our hard work from MP Vivek garu also.
Q: You always seem to be innovating. What is the next new program you are planning?
A: I am already working on a unique concept. It would be first of its kind but I would take my time to start executing. Obviosuly I can’t speak about it now.
Q: As a creator of a show which took news into every Telangana home by reinventing news programs, you are a kind of cultural phenomenon. What do you think is the reason for this stupendous success? What do you think is wrong with other channels which seem to be struck with losses?
A: I think the main point is to forget about old way of doing things. We thought why should we say news in particular fashion with particular words. So we used real-life colloquial language and even the informal way of chitchat we see in Telangana, especially rural areas. There is honesty, down-to-earth, pragmatic nature in that kind of talking. That is why everyone loved it. I think that applies to all kind of programming. We should not expect viewers to come to us and understand what we are saying and the adjust to the way we are saying. We should reach out to them, speak in their tone and speak out their thoughts. There could be ‘rich programming’ in other channels which gives satisfaction to it’s creators but it won’t reach anyone. Also, it is important that to get new ideas, certain freedom needs to be given to the members in team.
Q: We are seeing an explosion of activity by youth in Telangana, even in political arena thanks to the Telangana movement. What s your message to these young men?
A: Most of them have good intentions to serve Telangana society. There is an excellent opportunity due to our statehood for all Telangana youth to work hard and grab opportunities in any area. They have to look for innovation and try new things so that we can change most of the areas like TV programs and movies for the better.
Q: Thank you Naveen for your time. We wish for you more success and for us, more entertainment.
A: Thank you Telangana Talkies for letting me share my experiences.