NTR seems to be enjoying the best of both the worlds. Personally, being a doting father and at work too, he has scored a hat-trick with ‘Temper’, ‘Nannaku Prematho’ and ‘Janatha Garage’. The three blockbusters have put the actor back on familiar turf – that of a ‘superstar’. A raring urge to move on regardless, fuels his soul and that’s exactly what’s endearing about him. If there’s one thing he exemplifies, it’s his sheer grit and determination. Sashidhar Adivi gets up, close and personal with the power house performer who reflects on his eventful journey, family and realisations among many other things.
NTR was hyper active right from his childhood and he leveraged that to make his acting debut at just 17! Since then, he has featured in 26 films in a career spanning more than 15 years. “When I got into the industry my dad said ‘learn things the hard way’; it will help you be responsible and emerge as a better and stronger person. I still remember those words which were like tonic to me. My parents have been a major influence and the driving force in my life,” recounts NTR, adding, “I tasted super success at a very early stage but perhaps I did not know how to handle it (smiles). But after a string of failures, I realised the ground reality, and fought back to winning ways. I took time to understand things. I learnt ow to be balanced, level-headed and treat success and failure in the same way.
The journey has been an amazing one.”
Pranathi, biggest influence in life after mom
Tarak (as he’s fondly called by his friends) got hitched to Pranathi in 2011. “Marriage has been very good for me and my wife Pranathi has definitely brought a welcome change in me. She has been a very calming influence. I am a very active person by nature and my energy levels are very high. She has helped me channelize that energy in the right way. She also gives me honest feedback about all the films we watch together,” he confides.
The actor admits that his wife initially struggled to adjust to the environment. “She did take her time to come to terms. But she had a telling effect on me and has played a critical role in transforming me into what I am now. She anchored me, and the endurance she exhibited during the period was phenomenal. I guess she has been the biggest influence in my life after my mom. She is a very strong woman mentally; in fact, she’s stronger than me. Pranathi does advise me on my looks and styling but never imposes. In fact, she worked hard in shaping my look for one of my films (‘Nannaku Prematho’) but she never gets involved in my scripts or signing projects. She was also primarily responsible for my fitness levels. Since Pranathi is a fitness freak, she pushes me to work out (in my home gym) a lot and stay fit. But we never discuss films at home. Neither my mother nor my wife talks about it. Home is the best place for me to unwind.”
Fatherhood made me more responsible
His eyes light up at the mention of his son Abhay Ram. “Fatherhood has changed me tremendously; it gave me a new lease of life, new perspective and refreshed me. I see a very pure version of me in my son. Somewhere as we grow up, we lose the purity that we had as kids. When I see my son, I’m reminded of that again. I play a lot with him and he keeps me busy with his naughtiness,” he confides.
So what does fatherhood mean to him? “It made me responsible, calmer and practical. Earlier, I was pretty lighthearted and never used to take injuries (during shootings) seriously, but Abhay’s arrival has made me more responsible. Now, I remember my son every time I step into an action scene, I am more vigilant. I want to see him growing up and I want to be a part of his growing phase. That’s why I want to give my best time to him. I’m not willing to be robbed of precious childhood moments of my kid and don’t want to repent later for not getting that opportunity,” he replies.
My son is as naughty as I was
The doting father states that his son’s acts and gestures remind him of his childhood. He articulates, “My son is very active and naughty. In fact, my mom keeps telling me how naughty I was at his age. He is a reflection of me. I have changed a lot over the last couple of years and I attribute it to Abhay Ram. I make it a point to spend a lot time with him and it has brought to the fore my hidden side – things that even I don’t know about myself. He is actually the biggest change in my life.”
Approach to films changed
There seems to be a sea change – whether acting or the choice of roles and projects NTR has been taking up. “I guess I am changing with the times. Tastes of Telugu cinema viewers are changing and if we don’t change, we will be left behind. People are always looking for something new. As an actor, I also need to challenge myself, be it in looks or roles. These efforts are a part of that. No one is immune to success or failure. Even I was disappointed when my films didn’t work. But I don’t lose sleep and fret over it for months. I move on and try to do better in my next film. To me, every film is a learning process. I try to learn from my experience and change myself,” he states with a refreshing candour.
As an actor he now wants to tread into the uncharted territory. He explains, “I feel change comes over time. It was triggered when I received flak and y slew of films that didn’t do well at the BO. They did not give me the intended results and left me craving for satisfaction as an actor. Soon I started picking up scripts that gave me happiness and an opportunity to tread on unexplored subjects. I guess that worked big time.”
One of the qualities worth admiring about NTR is his consistency. No matter what, as an actor he never lets you down. “I give 100% to all my films but my approach to life and films has changed a lot recently because I started looking for genuineness in my characters, instead of looking at myself as a star hero. I don’t like the tag ‘star hero’, I am just an actor and I realised this recently. Obviously my family was a bit concerned with the failures, but they had faith in me. They believed in my hard work. Now they are enjoying this phase,” the ‘Baadshah’ star adds.
Cooking, a stress buster
Away from films, the actor loves to cook. “During my leisure time, I cook, it’s my stress buster. I like to go on a holiday; I also indulge in a lot of shopping and spend time with my family. These days, my focus has been on toy shops, whenever I see one, I think of my son and start picking up toys and other stuff for him,” says the actor with a grin.
Having spoken so much about the actor, it would be incomplete to wrap up the conversation without the mention of his legendary grandfather, Senior NTR, from whom he inherited his name. “He’s one of the most inspiring personalities of the millennium,” proclaims the actor.