Dinesh Tej is known to us as the actor who gave us feel-good movies. Overcoming many odds and struggles, he has reached a point in his life journey with the expert direction of his heart. Life may have thrown many volleys at him, asking him to detour from his ultimate goal. He had diligently given those a try and once again returned to his path towards recognition in Cinema. With most of his inspirations coming from the Film Industry, there is only one direction now and that is to reach good heights. Dinesh has the natural talent of a performer. Combined with his focus and ability to treat people with respect and humility, he plans to give the industry his all. Read about him and find out how cinema shaped him and brought him here.
The self motivated individual has the ability to inspire us too to believe that we can become anything we want to be.
A humble upbringing
Born as Gandhamuneni Dinesh Chowdary, his name was changed to Dinesh Tej. His parents are Srinivasulu and Nagendramma. He took his first breath in Anantapur on 26th May 1992. Coming from a middle class family, father is a government employee working as superintendent for Panchayati Raj and mom is a housewife. His younger brother Kushwanth works for Amazon.
From a young age, the family felt studies were the only option, just like any other regular parents. They instilled the principle that education takes you places and no other activities. Father especially believed that not even any cultural activities would work, as they will not help a person grow in life.
Since childhood, there was a pressure to study well. On par with a disciplined upbringing, Dinesh’s father was strict with him. This created fear for him during his younger days, but that gradually turned into respect as he grew up. Even now, he admits he is hesitant to talk to him freely.
Still, his parents never discouraged him from trying out anything. As long as his studies and tuitions were taken care of, he was allowed to go for dance classes during free time. With education as the first priority, dance was encouraged.
Schooling was in his hometown Dharmavaram, Anantapur District. For Intermediate and graduation, Dinesh Tej moved to Hyderabad. Intermediate was completed from Narayana college, Boduppal, while staying at a hostel. Graduation was in Samskruti College of Engineering and Technology, Ghatkesar.
He is fond of his teachers from school and intermediate, but agrees there wasn’t much interaction with teachers from graduation. Candidly, he says that he spent very little time in college. The college grounds and nearby theaters were, however, memorable places.
It was primarily his schooling that helped him grow in life. Despite being a smalltown where his school is, he states they have their high standards. According to him, it is the best school in Dharmavaram. He has huge respect for his teachers even now. They helped him a lot in terms of discipline as there is immense impact during the early formative years. The education even taught him how to behave and conduct himself with people. The way he mingles with and treats others was learnt here. Also, the school activities those days shaped him.
Adventures with movies
Dinesh Tej has been a movie buff since his childhood. Back then, he was never allowed to go for movies alone, except with parents or someone else. Claiming that he had night tuitions, Ganesh used to hoodwink his parents and go for a second show movie.
Never one to miss an opportunity to go out, he also has a plan for Sundays when his dad is at home. He comes up with a story about special classes or tuitions and spends time at the cricket ground with his bat. He is a good cricket player as well. The sport is now his hobby along with movies and badminton.
Even as a teenager, he regularly jumped over his Intermediate college walls to go catch a latest movie. Interestingly, he once watched the movie Billa for 5 consecutive days, jumping the wall in time for the second show everyday. Those days, the stylish look of Prabhas took his fancy.
He claims that he is firstly a fan of films before anything else. When he likes a film, there are many instances where he watched it repeatedly, he shares. In this way, movies became a part of his life.
Much needed support
Dinesh Tej is closest to his childhood friends from his hometown. Krishna Tej, a senior from school, is one of them. Since he was 12 years old, they became friends and developed a close brotherly bond. He was there with him throughout his life as a best friend.
His parents were also a strong pillar behind him. Following his B.Tech, he briefly worked for the MNC Capgemini for 3 years. He later resigned that job and returned home, back in 2016. His family did not immediately know that he had quit his job. It was after 2 months that he was questioned about his decision. He told them that if he wanted to follow his heart, it was now or never.
With this revelation, his dad gave him 2 years time to do anything he wants and achieve something. If there is any progress during these 2 years, he said he would let him continue. Otherwise, Dinesh Tej would have to work according to his dad’s wishes. Coming from a small town, combined with many insecurities, they feared that the Film Industry wasn’t the right option.
With luck, he fortunately found an opportunity in the form of the movie ‘Hushaaru.’ While work on the film happened, he even started a few web series. Looking at his growth and passion, the family agreed to his plans and began supporting him.
Seeds of passion
From a young age, Dinesh Tej is a dancer. As a child, he used to perform on stage in school. He was overall, a very active kid in sports and cultural activities. Dance played a crucial role in developing his passion for Cinema. His parents used to like movies as well. His mom is a fan of Nandamuri Balakrishna and dad is a Chiranjeevi fan.
Growing up, watching their movies, had an impact on him. When he was in this 9th class, there was a budding producer in Dharmavaram. He used to produce a TV serial. Dinesh Tej attended an audition for a role in the serial and bagged it. He was selected as a second lead, while the first lead was given to a child artist. His dad was happy and sent him for the shoot in Hyderabad. This was his first time in the city.
After about 2 months, due to financial issues, the serial was shelved, never to see the limelight. This was a crucial point for Dinesh. Dad put a break on his acting aspirations and asked him to focus on the next class and eventual board exams.
And yet, with the combination of dance and watching movies, his passion for movies took seed within him.
Even during his graduation, he had many challenges that come specifically to middle class families. With struggling finances, the actor couldn’t pursue acting. With the entry into corporate job culture, he was focused on it for a while, but soon realized he is not made for a 9-5 desk job.
He then tried for 6 months for Combined Defense Service (CDS), with plans to join the Army or Navy. He wasn’t selected for the Navy due to their high cut off marks. But, he got selected for a post of Assistant Colonel in the Army. With 4 weeks to report in Ahmedabad, his mother disagreed to send him. Since there was another exam in 6 months, he felt he could go then. During these months, there was a lot of pressure from dad to reduce his attention on only this goal. He was suggested to work as a software engineer. With their challenges under consideration, he started attending interviews and cracked the third one. He joined Cap Gemini and finished a 4 month training period in Chennai. Dinesh Tej was soon placed for his job in Mumbai. After completing a year and a half there, he moved to Bangalore. Once in Bangalore, he was offered an onsite opportunity to fly to London.
By this time, he had reached an exhaustion point and wondered what he was doing with his life. He never wanted to be in the Software industry. Throughout his life, he only knew 3 things, which are movies, cricket and Army.
As professional cricket requires training since childhood, pursuing the sport was not an option. He had to sacrifice his Army plans with respect to parents. At the age of 24, with looming travel to the UK, he gave serious thought to his life plans.
The software path might have given him financial stability, but he realized that path is taking him further away from his desires. That was when he took the decision to resign the job immediately. This ‘now or never’ decision brought him to Hyderabad, where he started giving auditions. This was the turning point in life.
Born with it
Dinesh Tej strongly believes that acting is something one has within them inherently. He wanted to dabble in Theater and attend workshops, but never found time or opportunity due to life situations at that point. He always trusted that acting is inside him.
He says that dance helped him immensely in this journey. The art form gave him recognition and helped him work on stage fear. He mainly prefers the Indian Bollywood style of dancing.
With stage fear conquered, dancing gave him the confidence to face people. He trained for dancing for about one year as a little boy, but here too, movies were his biggest motivator to keep dancing. He typically practiced his performances from movie songs.
With his job resignation, attending auditions took his focus. He used to hunt for auditions online and immediately travel to the city where they were held, be it Chennai or Mumbai.
During this time, his savings were slowly dwindling. This point in life marks his struggling, “thin” phase. Since he is interested in writing and had done a short film in college, he felt that if there is no work out there, why is it not possible to create it for oneself. Here, he wrote and started a web series called ‘Fruits.’ This was a breaking point to push him forward in his career. The series was soon taken up by Etv channel, who ran it. Another close friend of his from childhood, director Deva Ganesh also began his career along with Dinesh.
Dinesh agrees that the industry is definitely a tough place to survive. To thrive, he has a special principle. He states, “If I put my mind to something and decide, even if there is minimal possibility in its success, I won’t give up.” For him, success cannot be achieved overnight in any field. It requires patience.
He says there were many struggles. He was apparently without a project for about 6 months after Hushaaru was completed. Till date, his financial situation is still uncertain. Still, there is a positive side to this. He is now recognised in the industry as being part of two good films, Hushaaru and Playback. “That drives me to work towards my goal, to go forward,” he says.
Lessons from people
Dinesh has many role models through every stage in his life. His first and most important inspiration is his dad. He is a sincere officer, he says. His dad had taught him honesty and humility. Starting his career as a typewriter, he gradually rose in his career to come to his present stage with hard work.
According to Dinesh, whatever might be your job or whatever phase you might be in, “just don’t forget to be humble and honest.” This philosophy hit him hard from a young age.
In the industry, he points out that there are many inspiring people around us. His favorites are Chiranjeevi, Jr. NTR, Ajith and Hrithik Roshan. “They have faults, they know it, but they have never given up and kept achieving goals step by step,” he shares.
In Tollywood, he says, we can take a good quality from all heroes. We are surrounded by superstars around us, who drive him and give him goals since his entry into the industry. Even though Dinesh is taking baby steps in the industry, he admires how these stars put in efforts.
Chance that changed everything
Dinesh shares a story about how he got his first feature film. During the days when he was giving a lot of auditions, he once found himself at Annapurna Studios. Though he faced many rejections, he continued on. They were taking auditions for short films. This was part of a graduation film by the students of Annapurna Film Institute. During one such audition, he was liked by them and was advised to attend another audition for a feature film that was taking place nearby. That was for Hushaaru. He then stood in line and waited for his chance. Director Harsha Konuganti and co-director Pramod immediately liked him. They first offered him a small role and Dinesh travelled with them for 6-8 months. The makers had initially auditioned up to 70-80 people for the role of ‘Dhruv.’ As they didn’t like anyone, Pramod suggested they audition Dinesh for the role. He was once again tested for the lead role. Things changed from here once they loved him in the role. This is unforgettable for the actor.
For the upcoming actor, from Dharmavaram to Hyderabad and then to this stage in the industry, he built a lot of confidence. He plans to continue building on it and go very far.
He hasn’t planned any of this. For as long as he had known, he wanted to achieve something. He had always seen that some people might have recognition and some do not. He was determined that when people look at him, they should see him with respect and look up to him. He feels that zeal and the ‘never give up’ attitude brought him this far.
He eagerly looks forward to the year and film that brings him the best performance credit. He awaits the time when the audiences fully accept him and his talent is showcased well.
Every opportunity until now is a boost to his career, he says. However, he goes through dull moments everyday because of the tough field he is in. No one day is the same, it is uncertain. Sometimes he feels he can achieve it, but sometimes he feels there is no hope. Despite this, he self motivates himself personally. He states that it is an every day war within himself.
If nothing works out, his idea is to run businesses with a friend, leading a simple life in his hometown surrounded by his family and friends.
Humanitarian in the works
While he works on his career, Dinesh wants to give something back to society one day. “I don’t know how it’s going to take place,” he says. He was once part of social activities as a college student along with his friends. They included helping at the orphanages. In the future, he wants to bring that change when he is capable of it.
Work so far
Dinesh has 2 releases, Hushaaru and the recent hit Playback. Not willing to compare any role, he says that every character is an opportunity to live in it. “Every movie is an opportunity and every work is my best work so far,” he expresses.
A romcom named ‘Merise Merise’ is about to be released in a few months. Promotions for the film are on the cards. The makers have already released a teaser and two songs. He says there is positive talk around this feel good movie.
Dinesh also has another movie in the pipeline. Under Geetha Arts and Sukumar Writings, ‘18 pages’ is in the making. Nikhil and Anupama Parameshwaran are the main leads. He is the second lead in it, playing the love interest of the female lead.
Other than these, he is under discussions with 2-4 projects, 2 of which are about to be finalized.