Comedian-hero Naresh opens up about his family and his quest for meaningful roles.
Thirty five films old, one film ready for release, one on the floor and five scripts getting finishing touches. Naresh is seated on his reclining chair behind his power desk, dressed in a sporty maroon T-shirt. He doesn't look like the actor he is. Naresh is not the restless, gregarious guy we see in films, cracking cheeky one-liners. A quiet young man, he opens up only to the few he knows well. Once the interview is over, he withdraws into his shell.
Naresh is also not one of those actors who have an insatiable appetite for fitness, travel or books; he finds the gym boring and describes food as a biological need. But there is one thing that keeps him going — movies. One can catch him at home watching films when he isn't shooting; his bedroom has wall-to-wall shelves crammed with at least 6000 DVDs and videos.
His father E.V.V. Satyanarayana titled his film Bendu Appa Rao as he always stood tall at 6ft 2 inches, didn't know how to carry off his personality and unconsciously developed a hunch. Even when he walks with a swagger, his hunch becomes very visible. Director Ravi Babu zoomed the camera into a close-up of Naresh's jaw in his debut movie Allari as he was adamant on getting rid of Naresh's inhibitions; he figured out that he had a complex as he covered his protruding teeth with his forearm always while talking. At home too, the actor grew up with lot of comparisons. Everyone said that his brother Rajesh was better suited for films and he could be utilised in the direction department. All these remarks pushed him into a corner and he was forced to figure out who he was.
Very early in his carefully crafted career, he tried out meaningful and sensible cinema like Nenu and Pellaindi Kaani but they had disastrous response. Terming them as occupational hazards, the actor went ahead and worked in Gamyam at No. 3 position and it fetched him accolades and awards. His mother was peeved with him because he was doing death scenes frequently in films and she even walked out of the cinema hall once. She was particularly upset when he shot for the death scene for Gamyam on his birthday.
A lady who saw his sentimental drama came up to him one day and requested him to stay away from such cinema: “We go to theatres expecting you to crack jokes and perform comedy, no sob stories again please.” The feedback made him think and now he gives the audience what they seek from him but he punctuates his career once in a while with films like Sambho Siva Sambho for creative satisfaction.
Naresh has a weird sense of humour and a casual style which also comes through in his films. He also has the simple man's image coupled with a negative touch: either he is a miser, a liar, a thief or a middle class person with many vulnerabilities that has endeared him to the masses. Also, the titles of his films are funny and catchy. He calls it unfair when people call him Junior Rajendra Prasad and unabashedly admits to copying him in some films, “He is a Doctor and I am just an RMP”, he avers.
His dance steps have improved over the years and he admits that he has been putting in effort. The choreographers, to keep up with the latest steps, are experimenting with every bone in his body and today the comedian-hero is coming up with slicker and smarter comedies. He is making sure that there is no double entendre in his movies and recollects his mother getting disgusted with the ribald comedies directed by his father once upon a time.
Naresh is aware that his lines are rib-tickling, he now wants to stretch himself further, wants to work in a film like Pushpak and make people laugh and cry sans dialogues. Finally, what lies ahead? He recently wrote a story titled Tasting Tears mercy killing but Sanjay Leela Bhansali beat him to it, releasing Guzaarish first. The actor finds it difficult to believe this. His pals tell him that Bhansali must have stolen his script from his table while he was away shooting!