In a league of his own : Nani
With his latest release ‘Krishnagaadi Veera Prema Gaadha’ (KVPG), Nani has pulled off the much coveted feat of scoring a hat-trick. He’s now the ‘Bhale Bhale Mogadivoy’ (BBM) of the T-Town. Or, should we simply say the ‘Natural Star’ of our cinema – something many would like? Whatever it is, while the BBM catapulted the actor to a different league, the KVPG strengthen the actor’s trust amongst the industry stakeholders – not to mention the audience. Sashidhar Adivi writes more
Nani exudes versatility and promises to show ‘Sega’ big-time from now on. “The phase when ‘Paisaa’ and ‘Jenda Pai Kapiraju’ happened was very difficult. Whatever I did, it threw up challenges. But now things are absolutely fine. I will ensure that there is a release every six months,” says the soon-to-be ‘big name’ of Tollywood.
From someone who started his career an assistant director, getting a payment of 2,500 rupees per film, Nani has grown to be the most sought-after star. But he seems nonchalant about his growing popularity. Speaking in his typical unpretentious style, he says, “When I was an assistant director, I happened to witness an incident at a hero’s office. As soon as the hero came, a group of people went up to him and excitedly told him that they were big fans and that they had been waiting to meet him for three days! In fact, they had come there only moments earlier. I don’t take all the admiration too seriously. Without going into details, I enjoy their compliments,” Nani says humbly.
Analysing the changing tastes of audiences is his second nature. “There was a time when the audience used to virtually get inside the screen and feel the emotions of the characters. People would laugh with the characters, sob with them. But now the audiences are detached, they are not bothered.” Cogitating over the challenges filmmakers face today, he says, “There was a time when the audience used to go to the theatre even if just the posters were exciting. Nowadays, a film won’t work without content. A film is rejected the second day itself. It was a warning from the audience last year that they won’t watch routing films.”
An actor who has come from a humble background, Nani’s feet are firmly on the ground. “Say, 20 years ago, actors used to enjoy loyalty from the audience. If they were accepted once, they would be accepted forever. In today’s times, people are exposed to more options of entertainment. An actor has to prove himself every Friday when his film hits the screens. One has to be always on guard. Every film is a Veera Gadha (Brave story) now,” he laughs. “One can’t tell that if I have worked hard for a film, it will be a hit. I spent two hard years on ‘Jeanda Pai Kapiraju’, and six months on ‘Bhale Bhale Mogadivoy’. The latter was a breeze, a playful journey.”
Like the English language illiterate in his latest film (KVPG), Nani was pretty much the same as a student. “I was better in English than other subjects. That is because no teacher would take my answers seriously. I used to write the story of the film ‘Titanic’ every time, but I would still pass. I couldn’t write a second story other than Titanic’s because I didn’t know how to express another story in English,” says Nani, getting nostalgic.
So when is his film with Mani Ratnam happening? “There was an idea which he mooted, but the story of a Hindi film released around the same time was similar to this. We have promised each other, however, to do a film at a future date,” he reveals.
Nani says the film industry is in safe hands. Alluding to Mahesh Babu’s appreciation for his acting, he says, “Biggest stars are appreciating their fellow stars. This shows their heart is pure. I feel the future of the industry would be great.” An admirer of Kamal Haasan, Nani is a big fan of the legendary SV Ranga Rao.
If there is a director who pens stories with him in mind, it’s Hanu Raghavapudi. “Hanu offered me ‘Andala Rakshasi’, but I turned it down because I felt such a heavy-duty film was not my cup of tea. After narrating a couple of stories, Hanu evolved KVPG during our discussions. I was pretty much sure about its success from the beginning because I can accurately predict whether the audience will laugh for a scene or not, although I can go wrong whether the audience will like a serious one,” he says.
Proving himself film after film, Nani is busy doing a thriller with Mohankrishna Indraganti. “It’s his most commercial film, but a film very close to its sensibilities,” he says.
Finally, what has he learnt from his failures? “I never got scolded for a film until ‘Aaha Kalyanam’. Many followers on Facebook scolded me for doing a Tamil film and releasing a dubbed one. Who would forgive Nani’s lip sync not matching?” he ponders.
Meanwhile, Nani may well join the league of those stars whose producers could afford to do a big-ticket bilingual with him in near future. Such is his growing stardom.