When Lakshmi Manchu says, “I am wearing my night suits in Feet Up With The Stars,” she really means it. One of the best dressed actors in Telugu film industry, she is now excited to show off her collection every week.
Costume is an integral fashion statement on any chat show but here it is just not what Lakshmi wears but what she talks that will make one’s eyes roll. Voot is a streaming app from the bouquet of Viacom 18. They are entering the Colours Telugu market and taking a digital approach. Their first show is Feet Up With The Stars, which will begin streaming on September 23. A similar show has been done featuring Bollywood stars and fashion consultant and editor of Vogue, Anaita Shroff Adajania, was the host.
Lakshmi has shortlisted her guests for each week and in a bedroom set up, will have pro active and intimate conversations.
The first week will have two episodes followed by one episode every Monday. It is streaming free and they have wrapped up four episodes already; more episodes are being planned.
Actors Rakul Preet Singh, Samantha, Varun Tej and a good line up of A-listers are on the show and the mapping is equivalent to what has been shot in Bollywood with Deepika Padukone, Vicky Kaushal and Malaika Arora.
There have been talk shows shows where guests were seated on sofas and couches, but conversations on bed? Lakshmi exclaims, “I saw the Hindi version; initially I didn’t want to do the show. I was like ‘oh my god, did she ask all those questions’ and they are all what you ask a best friend.”
Doing the show in Telugu made her a bit worried but the actor is a go-getter. She explains that in the South, none of the stars show their true selves and like to present a persona. She says Rana as the first one to break that mould. She adds, “I have to coax and make them (other actors) understand that I will not make them uncomfortable but also tell them that the world is small and they have to open up with me. My guests have been comfortable with me. I didn’t know I could be good on talk shows until I started one (referring to her previous shows such as Prematho Mee Lakshmi and Memu Saitham). I saw a part of me I didn’t know existed. It was a revelation and I enjoyed it.”
The 41-year-old also forayed into the web series space with Mrs Subbalakshmi early this year. Tell her that if Bollywood stars take up a web series, it is termed happening but here, people label a star to be out of work. She disagrees and says if people think that way, she is here to change that attitude. She points out, “Niharika (Konidela) wouldn’t have had a career if not for her digital presence. So many people are going digital and the smart ones see further and I am one of them. Work is work whatever the sphere is, you shouldn’t be limiting yourself. Television has given second innings to married women. Why are actors expected to quit their career because they are married? Considering the family I come from, I need to do something out of the box. I love doing creative and challenging stuff. Every month I keep checking if I’m better than yesterday and that is what drives me.”
Lakshmi looks up to Oprah Winfrey and says she’d love to follow the high standards set by the international chat show icon. If Menu Saitham was a social benchmark set by her, she terms Prematho Mee Lakshmi as fulfilling. She shares the impact the show had on people, “Ram Gopal Varma wrote to me saying he had tears; that coming from a non-emotional man is really something. I want to have my stamp on everything I do. Feet Up With The Stars is a bigger responsibility. They have done it in Hindi and tried replicating it in Tamil. After I shared the Voot trailer, people texted me that only I could do it. For the position I am in, I could use my staff to gather content but I do my own spade work. No matter how big or small the star is, I call their cousins and friends and find out about them. I want my guests to say that it is not a wasted effort going on camera with Lakshmi.”
Finally, ask her if she reveals the questions to her guests before the show, and she responds, “I tell them that if you are not happy with the edit, we shall talk about it. I will definitely needle them and do justice to my role as a host.”
‘Feet up with the Stars’ will stream on Voot app from September 23.