Nagarjuna talks about the film under production, which sees the coming together of the actor, his father ANR and son Naga Chaitanya, his journey in tinsel town and more. Deepa Venkatraman listens in
The rains played spoilsport and the whole shooting schedule for a jewellery ad got delayed at the Film City, Mumbai. The technical crew were scurrying around and getting the set ready for the shoot inside studio number 8. First to arrive for the shoot was Telugu actor Nagarjuna. He took time off to speak about his journey in the industry, his bonding with his father, his son’s career, his institute and wife Amala’s contribution to society. Excerpts:
You have done 300 movies. How has your journey been?
It has been a long journey of 26 years. Because of the risks I take, my career graph soars one moment and plummets the next. I have done an incredible range of films donning varied roles; I think very few actors have had that opportunity. Now when I look back, there’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction.
Your father ANR was a popular actor in his heyday. What influence did he have on you when you entered tinsel town?
I have observed him right from my childhood. But as an actor, I feel we both have different personalities. My strength lies in trying out new things. My father is still acting; he’s a big brand himself; and that has helped me a lot.
Is there any role you would like to do which you have not done earlier…
Yes. I love watching ANR-NTR’s mythological movies based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I would like to play one of their characters some day.
You have appeared in Shiva, Drohi, Khuda Gawah, Criminal and Mr Bechara, in the 1990s. When can the Bollywood audience see you again?
I’d love to work in a Bollywood film. Most of my films are getting dubbed into Hindi and I know I have a lot of fans here. I am waiting for a great offer. I am also open to the idea of producing a movie in Hindi, but I am waiting for the right script.
You flaunted a six-pack in Damarukam and played the lead in a recent flick as well. At 53, how do you manage to pull of such roles with élan?
(Laughs) Well, Damarukam was easy as it was more an action-oriented film. I did a romantic movie Greeku Veerudu, where I played a mature businessman and it worked. I am happy people liked my looks. However, I shouldn’t risk the “ever green look” any more. (Laughs again)
Your son Naga Chaitanya attained stardom with Ye Maya Chesave. He is experimenting with roles, but the audience is expecting something as stunning as Ye Maya Chesave. What is your take on it?
Well, he should do both commercial and character-driven films. Otherwise, he will get stuck in one genre. Recently, he had a commercial hit, Tadakha, along with Sunil. He has a mind of his own; only when he has a doubt about selection of movies, does he seek my advice. Besides, I don’t give him lessons in acting; he is intelligent and smart.
We hear that a movie featuring your father, you and Chaitanya is going to be made.
Yes, three of us are doing a movie, our own production. It is rare to get a chance like this and is very special to me. Shooting with Naga Chaitanya and Samantha has begun. Dad and I will start shooting in the first week of August. Twenty days of shoot is over and we will be wrapping up the film in another 60 days. We have designed the film keeping the Telugu-speaking audience in mind. They have been following our movies since my father’s days and we are like a family to them. As for my role, it’s a surprise.
What do you have to say about your wife Amala’s social initiatives? Do you get time to involve yourself in her work?
She is doing fantastic work. Apart from Blue Cross which she is associated with for a long while, she is doing a lot of work on AIDS awareness, environment and climate change. I do make time to help her in networking, building contacts and fund-raising.
Your son Akhil is a budding cricketer and his interest in movies is in the news as well. Would you like to see him playing for the Indian cricket team or as an actor?
I am fine with any field as long as he is happy with whatever he does. He is a good cricketer, who is also showing an inclination for acting.
You are the founder of Annapurna International School of Film and Media, Hyderabad. How do you find time to run it?
I have a lot of good people who take care of the institute. I do drop in to interact with the students.
What is your vision for the institute?
We hope to make it a huge media education centre. We are offering full-fledged three-year degree courses. We already have foreign students who want to learn about Indian cinema. The institute is located in our studio which has facilities conforming to international standards. We are partnering with a wide range of hardware, software and networking companies from around the world, so that our students get access to cutting edge technology.