We’d be lying if we do not agree that he caught our attention in Ala Vaikuntha-purramuloo and that’s saying something cause he was sharing screen space with Tollywood’s ultimate hottie – Allu Arjun. That led us to watch ChiLaSow and we weren’t left disappointed. Sushanth Anumolu might just be seven films old, but this good-looking Telugu actor sure has a great career paved ahead of him…

When did you decide to become an actor?
Around two years into my bachelor’s degree studying ECE at UIUC, Illinois.

What is the kind of cinema that inspires you?
I’ve started to appreciate a wider spectrum of genres as I grow older so it’s hard to pick one certain kind.

The nepotism argument is a huge one, your opinion on it?
I have a lot of respect for people who are self-made in their respective fields. It is highly commendable for anyone to venture out and succeed in a new path. Our grandfather, Akkineni Nageshwar Rao has been an inspiration to many for the same reason. I also do believe good things can happen when one is passionate about their work whether it is a new path or one inspired by someone at home. My passion and interest for cinema made me quit a stable job in a global oil company, Schlumberger, in the USA and move back to Hyderabad. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion and I never take my family or the audience for granted. I’ve had my own share of ups and downs and am striving each year to grow and improve as an actor and also as a person.

What are your opinions on the present portrayal of women in cinema?
ChiLaSow portrayed a strong and independent woman which was one of the reasons I liked the script. The female lead in my upcoming film, Ichata Vahanamulu Nilupa Radu (No Parking), is very integral to the story and has a layered character. Each movie tells a unique story and I listen to each script taking into account the way the character is portrayed.

Chi La Sow was a runaway hit — your experience with the project?
I couldn’t be happier about the messages I continue to receive about this film not just in Telugu but also the dubbed Hindi version and that it won a national award for original screenplay. It gave all of us the confidence to believe in ourselves and the belief that if you keep working through the rough times with sincerity, good things can happen.

You have managed to keep your personal life out of the rumour mills, how?
Haha, I don’t know. I think I’ve always been a shy, private person as a kid growing up. But films have sort of opened me up a bit in life too and I’m happy about it. Never too late for rumours though, no?

You prefer to be known mononymously by just your first name — how come?
No specific reason. At the time, I was the only Sushanth in Telugu films and it happened like that. Now the credits read Sushanth A and maybe if I act in another language such as Hindi or Tamil I will probably go by my full name.

What are the biggest problems faced by the youth in India today in your opinion?
Maybe bullying and also handling pressure, be it exams, career, love life; and now social media pressure sometimes can take a toll on some too.

Do you think cinema can bring about change?
It may be possible to be moved or inspired at times with a biopic or a real incident… but for the most part, I expect to be entertained by films.

Do you think cinema has the responsibility to make society a better place to live in?
To me, cinema relieves stress, entertains and becomes part of your happy memories in life. If you can learn something to make you a better person, then that’s great!

You are often referred to as a chocolate boy — how comfortable are you with that tag?
I’m fine with it but I think that also comes from the films you do and my next film Ichata Vahanamulu Nilupa Radu may break that image since it’s a thriller. Let’s see?

Life post Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo?
It’s been good! I did my first ad with Sprite right after and started shooting as planned earlier, for Ichata Vahanamulu Nilupa Radu, two weeks after Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo released so the year was hectic till the lockdown happened.

Do you think the future of cinema is online?
I hope not just online, since I believe all mediums can coexist. Earlier it was only theatres, then it was theatres and TV and now it will hopefully be theatres, TV and OTT etc.

What are the social issues you feel for and what have you been doing regarding those issues?
I try to be there for my sister’s NGO Inquilab which deals with awakening problem solving skills in children studying in government schools. Besides that, any cause that I come across that touches me, I try to do my bit to contribute in any way I can.

Do you think film stars should do more for social equality?
I don’t think it’s only film stars that should be looked at for this. I feel regardless of the field we are in, each person should try to make the world a better place to live in.

What are the projects we can see you in, in the near future?
I have finished shooting for Ichata Vahanamulu Nilupa Radu recently and we are working out the release strategy and timing, considering the unique circumstances. There are also a couple of Sprite ads that will be out eventually. I’m in the process of listening to scripts and choosing my next film as I speak.

If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, how would you do so?
Possibly a split personality! I am probably an ambivert now and full of surprises especially for people who put me in any specific category.

A role you wish you had played and why?
There are quite a few movies I love but I never particularly had a dream role as such.

2020 has been a horrible year for most of the world, how has your year been and how would you like the year to end?
I know it has been a tough year for many be it health wise, mentally and financially for many families. Personally, I am grateful for the health and wellbeing of my family and friends. I had a release early in the year and finished shooting for another film, got to spend a lot of quality time with family and learned new things like the keyboard during the lockdown. So I can’t complain too much about 2020 on a personal level. I wish for everyone that the rest of 2020 and next year keeps getting better and better!