Interview Movies

Naga Chaitanya on Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam and his other films

Naga Chaitanya in the film  

Naga Chaitanya is veering off the urban romances he’s known for, with Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam in a city-meets-village setting. As the film gears up for release on May 26, we catch up with the actor at Annapurna Studios where he reflects on his choices and stepping out of comfort zone.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Your dad had stated that he wanted to see you in a family entertainer like Ninne Pelladatha. Was Kalyan Krishna the obvious choice to helm such a film after Soggade Chinni Nayana?

My dad believes that the path I chose to take so far has been that of urban, new-age romance. I grew up watching city-centric films, mostly in English, and hadn’t been exposed to B and C towns and those sensibilities. But I’m aware that an actor needs to cater to a large audience. Kalyan’s strength lies in knowing people’s pulse and presenting the story tastefully. At the scripting stage, I had many debates with my dad and Kalyan because I couldn’t relate to a few things. Dad, given his experience, believed it will work. Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam is a learning experience where I trusted them a lot more, hoping that it will help me expand my reach.

Do you relate more to films like 50 First Dates or 500 Days of Summer?

Absolutely. Those are the kind of films I swear by. I believe in films that have logic behind every emotion or action. I am slowly coming out of that zone. New-age, realistic romances like Ye Maya Chesave (YMC) and Premam worked for me. 100% Love had the family element as well. With Rarandoi…, I’m heading in that direction.

Tell us about Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam

I play a guy from Vizag and Rakul Preet is a village girl. Until now, the romances I’ve done have dealt with my internal conflicts or that of the girl. In most Telugu families, marriage is a union of two families and Rarandoi Veduka Chuddam presents conflicts from that aspect.

Though you grew up watching more English films, which films would you choose as favourites among romantic entertainers in Telugu?

Nine Pelladatha. I can watch it any number of times. Also my uncle’s (Venkatesh) Aadavari Matalaku Arthale Verule directed by Selvaraghavan.

Premam is considered your biggest hit till date. Was it also a coming-of-age film for you as an actor?

A lot of flops made me grow to be able to do Premam. I learnt from my mistakes. I could connect with all the three stages of the protagonist as I’ve been through those emotions. Chandoo (Mondeti) went into a shell when I asked him if he’d remake the Malayalam original. He had come to me with a thriller. Dohchay had tanked and I wasn’t keen on a thriller. Chandoo took some time and tweaked the original film with Telugu sensibilities.

The second segment, especially, won you appreciation.

It did. I’m still not at a stage where I can pull off raw, mass entertainers. The action has to have finesse to it. I’ve tried massy action films and failed. Since people liked the rebellious side of me in Premam, I can push it some more in my next film. I guess the audience needs to know gradually that an actor like me can do justice to action.

Is that gradual progression possible in a scenario where opening weekend collections are a yardstick to success?

I want to make every film different from my previous one. But it all boils down to the opening weekend. If the first look or trailer doesn’t click, people are not interested.

Last year, you also had Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo. Do you think it bore the brunt of demonetisation?

I’ve been a victim of external factors before. My debut film Josh released when the then chief minister YSR passed away. I feel bad for the producers when films suffer due to factors beyond our control. Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo , to be fair, also had content that was tricky.

From the placement of ‘Vellipomake’ song to the revealing of your character name, a lot of things were tricky. What were your thoughts while working on the film?

I trust Gautham sir completely. He gave me YMC. Yet, when I and a few others asked him if ‘Vellipomake’ soon after the accident would work, he took it up as a challenge and did it so well. The Rajinikanth part… I knew about it only a week before I shot that portion. As always, he didn’t tell us the climax. He lets it develop organically. When he told me I was like, “Sir, are you sure I can be ACP Rajinikanth? Will people believe?” He asked me to trust him. Looking back, I liked the film but feel we could have tweaked the last 20 minutes.

Do you stay in touch with directors like Gautham Menon long after a project is over to bounce off ideas or seek guidance?

I learnt so much from him. I’d probably say okay to him even without listening to a narration. I have that bond and trust with a few directors who’ve helped me grow. I don’t call to share ideas but call them asking for work. I have no qualms approaching directors who I know will help me grow as an actor.

What’s next?

There’s an untitled revenge thriller directed by my childhood friend Krishna. The film stars Lavanya Tripathi and Srikanth and has S S Karthikeya as line producer. I am in talks with Gautham for a four-hero, four-language film. A film with Chandoo Mondeti is also on cards.

Bikes, cars and love on Instagram

Remember the Shokilla song in SSS… and the refrain ‘Me and my RE (Royal Enfield)’? That’s an extension of Chaitanya’s passion for bikes and cars. He loves to go on biking trips to Hampi with friends and has fond memories of riding to Goa during college days. The fascination with cars and bikes began when he was growing up in Chennai. “I used to go to the race track and watch the races every weekend,” he says.

Instagram posts by his fiancé Samanth Ruth Prabhu reveal the chef side of Chaitanya. Ask him about it and he blushes, “I like to keep personal things away from social network. Sam clicks a picture and the next thing I know it’s online. I’m enjoying it though. I won’t get this year again. The emotions and celebrations leading up to marriage are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So when people ask me, I just blush and smile.”

Chaitanya can whip up a range of cuisines, and loves baking, “I have an uncontrollable sweet tooth. I bake whatever I feel like eating outside.”

As an afterthought, he says candidly, “My biggest fear is what if I don’t have all these films and the fan base. Then, maybe I’d open a restaurant or do something with cars and bikes.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:18:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/naga-chaitanya-opens-up-on-work-his-beliefs-his-biggest-fear-and-yes-those-instagram-photographs-of-romance/article18456874.ece

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