Nagarjuna on Raju Gari Gadhi 2: 'Every film is risky as I’m putting the legacy of Akkineni family at stake'
“October is turning to be a wonderful time for our entire family. I’m thrilled that my son Naga Chaitanya and Samantha are getting married soon, and I’m confident that my next film Raju Gari Gadhi 2 will strike a chord with the audience,” Nagarjuna confesses.
His trademark mustache is gone, although he confesses that it’s not a new look for any film. More than anything, Nagarjuna is effervescent as ever about how his life is turning out to be. “Don’t you like my new look? All the girls seem to be loving it. I can’t complain,” he quips.
In the past three years, Nagarjuna has had a dream run of sorts at the box-office with films like Manam, Oopiri, and Soggade Chinni Nayana doing extremely well.
Moreover, earlier this year, Ra Randoi Veduka Choodham, a film which he had produced, went on to become the biggest hit in Naga Chaitanya’s career. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s one of the best phases in his career, so far.
Ask him if he has found a sense of freedom to take up any role without bothering about the result, Nagarjuna admits that his approach has always been cautious.
“Every film is a risky proposition because I’m putting the whole legacy of the Akkineni family at stake. My father (Akkineni Nageswara Rao) acted in films all his life and built a huge platform for us. There’s a lot at stake every time I act in a film or produce it. So, I have to be very cautious about what I’m doing,” Nagarjuna confesses, adding, “Having said that, I’m really happy that I’m being offered a gamut of roles. In fact, I remember Vamshi Paidipally was hesitating to approach me for Oopiri. He went on to include a flashback to justify why I’m paraplegic in that film. I had to put my foot down and tell them that I won’t do the film if they include any such stuff just for the sake of appeasing me (laughs). People have accepted me in mature roles and I think it’s time that I stop romancing on screen. Let the younger heroes do that now (laughs).”
In his latest film, Raju Gari Gadhi 2, Nagarjuna plays a mentalist who is called to find out the mystery behind a spirit lurking in a house. Directed by Ohmkar, the horror comedy film is inspired from a Malayalam film Pretham, and Nagarjuna terms it as a complete package. “It isn’t just a regular horror comedy. We’ve made sure that the entire family can enjoy Raju Gari Gadhi 2. I loved my role, and I have never dabbled with this genre before. It’s got a strong emotional backstory and Ohmkar has written a beautiful story where the mentalist and the spirit (of a girl) have an wonderful human connection. Besides, I do believe that there is a supernatural force that is guiding us all,” the actor says.
Incidentally, Samantha had played the ghost and Nagarjuna is all praise for her performance. “She’s amazing in the film. When I got to know that she’s going to play the role, I even joked with her that Chay (Naga Chaitanya) is going to be super scared. I don’t know how they are going to sleep together in the same room after he watches the film (laughs).”
The film’s release got delayed by a few weeks, because Nagarjuna insisted that he will finish dubbing his part only if he’s satisfied with the visual effects in the film.
“You might be strong with your technique, but I always keep telling the technicians, especially directors and cinematographers, that they need to understand the value of time too. We have some really good visual effects companies in Hyderabad; however, Ohmkar was keen on getting the VFX done in Mumbai. They did do a good job, but it took a long time. I was adamant that we shouldn’t release the film without getting the VFX right because people have become extremely critical of films these days. If they find something isn’t upto the mark, they reject it without any hesitation. Filmmakers have to be all the more careful about these aspects now. It was only after I liked the output that I finished my dubbing. I’m very happy with the film,” Nagarjuna reveals.
For now, his entire focus is on Naga Chaitanya-Samantha’s wedding which is going to take place at a resort in Goa on 6 and 7 October.
On the first day, the duo will get married according to Hindu traditions and then on October 7, the two will exchange rings as per the Christian tradition.
“It’s going to be a family affair and we have invited very few people. I’ve always wanted my son’s wedding to be a low-key affair with only your closest family members gracing the ceremony. And when Chay-Sam wanted to get married according to both Hindu and Christian traditions I was really happy with their decision. Amala and I had an Arya Samaj wedding and I still remember the rituals that we had to follow at our wedding. The best part is that they explain everything in detail so that you understand why you are doing certain things, instead of just mumbling few mantras. Although it’s not going to be an Arya Samaj wedding for Chay and Sam, it’s going to be simple ceremony with a little over 100 people attending the wedding,” he said, spilling the beans about the much-talked about wedding.
The actor is in talks with Sriram Aditya for an upcoming film, along with Nani, although he says it’s too early to talk about it. There’s another project that Chandoo Mondeti might direct. “For now, my focus is on Akhil’s next film (titled Hello). Vikram Kumar is doing a wonderful job in moulding Akhil and it’s going to be a sweet romantic film. We want to release the film on December 22,” he says, adding, “We are also planning to make a film that’ll be spearheaded by students from Annapurna Film School. We have set up a script lab and hopefully, we’ll have something to show by next year.”
Ask him if he’s ever going to act in Hindi films considering how actors are making inroads in other markets, Nagarjuna laughs it off saying, “I don’t think I’m in a position to go there and ask them for roles. If something comes up, then maybe I’ll think about it. To be honest, Telugu filmmakers are doing some really good films that are breaking all regional and cultural barriers. Look at Baahubali — SS Rajamouli dreamt of something big and he made it happen. The success of that film has opened a lot of doors for us. We can make a film in Telugu and take it to new shores, and I think that’s what our approach should be. Baahubali’s team has already shows us how to do it right.”