Actor Nagarjuna talks about his journey, on Southern Stars

A film celebrity’s life always holds fascination for the common man. And, Southern Stars strives to provide a glimpse of that life. This 13-part episode on CNN-IBN features actors, filmmakers, musicians and singers from the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada film industries. While the previous episodes highlighted actors Dhanush and Puneeth Rajkumar, the third episode features actor Nagarjuna. The following weeks will showcase the likes of actors Kamal Haasan, Suriya, Venkatesh and Mammootty.

As the son of legendary Telugu actor Akkineni Nageswar Rao, getting into filmdom was the most natural progression for Nagarjuna. But then, along with it came hard work and a name to live up to. And, after nearly three decades and 100 films, the actor still remains one of the most sought-after heroes.

Making an entry

Entering films was like homecoming because I grew up in that environment. However, acting in the first film Vikram in 1986 was a little awkward for me. I mean, one doesn’t romance or sing songs and mouth such dialogues in real life. After I watched the film, I was determined to get my act together.

The turning point

I was nervous to do Aakhari Poratam, because I was paired with actor Sridevi who was extremely popular then. But, she made me feel at home. In fact, one of the best compliments I received for the film was ‘Oh, yes. He was ok’.

Meeting Amala

After Mani Ratnam’s Gitanjali came Ram Gopal Verma’s Shiva. People loved that film. That was an incredible year for me because it was during the shoot of the film that I met my soulmate Amala. Friendship soon turned into love. She’s with me and so that’s the best thing that has happened to me.

Creative experiments

I believe comedy is the most difficult part in acting. But after the comedy in Priyadarshan’s Nirnayam, I was game for experiments. I did a dual role in Hello Brother. And, after that new kinds of roles such as action-meets-comedy, started coming my way. Then came Annamayya. I was initially reluctant to do a film that was a departure from what I was used to doing. But then, it turned out to be a spiritual journey for me. I harboured no great ambitions to get into Hindi films. But, I was happy to do Khuda Gawah, mainly because Sridevi approached me for it, and more importantly, I was acting along with Amitabh Bachchan, whose big fan I am. My tryst with Hindi films continued with Criminal, and I also did the Tamil film Ratchagan with Sushmita Sen.

Family legacy

Carrying forward the Akkinneni legacy could unfortunately be a burden for my son Naga Chaitanya, but he has to learn to handle it.

(Catch this week’s programme at noon and 8 p.m. on September 22 and at 1.30 p.m. and 10 p.m. the next day)