Akhil Akkineni: There’s no guarantee for success

Akhil Akkineni in a still from 'Akhil - the power of Jua'  

The Annapurna seven acres is a hub of activity. Inside Studio 1, a special episode of Meelo Evaru Koteswarudu is being shot with Nagarjuna and Akhil. On the corridors leading to the studio, a group from a costume department of a film is doing prep work. It’s business as usual. In a few minutes, a dapper Akhil steps out of the studio. He is looking forward to the whirlwind promotions of Akhil – the power of Jua (Jua stands for the sun in African language Swahili), which includes a Twitter and Facebook chat today.

Akhil was 16 when he decided to be an actor. “I wasn’t forced to take up acting; I was asked what I wanted to do,” he says. Much before the formal announcement of his entry into cinema, the youngster was known for his interest in racing and cricket. “I love to be outdoors. If I choose a holiday destination, it would be a beach. As a child I had a lot of energy and took to sports. One of the reasons why I went to Australia to study was to play cricket,” says Akhil.

Cinema, he says, rubbed on to him subconsciously. “My grandfather, mom and dad would talk to me about their experiences in cinema. I had a normal upbringing, studied in Chaitanya Vidyalaya till class VIII, went to Australia for two years, returned and did my Inter at Oakridge. I wasn’t inclined towards academics. I barely scraped through,” he laughs.

He doesn’t remember when the acting bug bit him. “At 15 or 16, one has to decide and work towards a career choice. When I was asked ‘what do you want to do?’ my reaction was ‘what else?’ I had the next five years to prepare,” recalls Akhil.

He wanted time to hone his skills, understanding that it wasn’t going to be easy. “Young actors today are groomed in acting, performing stunts, dancing and so on. It’s not like a few decades ago when my dad made his debut,” says Akhil.

Meanwhile, Nagarjuna insisted he study business management. “There’s no guarantee for success as an actor,” reasons Akhil.

Later, he chose an acting course at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute over the New York Film Academy, which also focused on direction and editing. “Dad was particular I go to the US, he did his engineering in Michigan and liked the experience,” he shares.

Akhil himself was eager to “get away” from the pampering he received here, being an Akkineni family member.

“I was self conscious. The Lee Strasberg course helped me discover myself. No one cared where I came from. I was judged for my performance. I loved being on my own,” he says.

Returning from the US, it took him a while to get used to life in Hyderabad. “My parents are chilled out, but others judge you if you’re out partying. Actors have a good corner eye; I know when someone is watching me, even though I am not looking in that direction. There were times I felt like going away. But I understand that we can’t complain about being recognised.”

When the question of a launch film came up, Akhil says he kept an open mind and listened to scripts. “I liked the clarity with which V.V. Vinayak sir narrated the story,” he says. Akhil – the power of Jua, he says, is a high octane action film which blends in a love story. “It is a fresh script; we are searching for an object in Africa and the power of the sun, an element larger than life, comes into play.” He trained with trainer Kicha in Thailand for two months, attending workshops learning the basics of stunts and rope work. While in front of the camera, he had to forget the fact that he would be compared to established actors in his family.

For the next three years, Akhil wants to take one film at a time. “I don’t want to bracket myself into a particular kind of cinema,” he sums up.

‘My dad is the reason the film is releasing’

The postponement of release date from Dasara to Deepavali gave rise to speculations. “There were reports that my dad postponed the film to make way for Bruce Lee. The film was delayed only for the graphics,” says Akhil.

He admits he was stressed with the delay. “Naturally, it’s my debut film. But I’d like to state that my dad is the reason for the film to be ready now. The visual effects were done on time but we weren’t happy with how the climax shaped up. Graphics had to be reworked and my dad gave us direction,” he says.

Citing the case of Baahubali, which was postponed due to visual effects work, Akhil says, “Only Mr. Rajamouli would know how tough it was. We learnt the tough way not to announce the release date before seeing the graphics.”

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 12:42:41 AM |

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