Kirrak Party star Nikhil Siddhartha says 'there are certain elements in film which pay homage to Nagarjuna's Shiva'
Nikhil Siddhartha says he wanted to do a film where the first half felt like Pawan Kalyan’s Kushi and the second like Shiva and Kirrak Party comes close
When Nikhil Siddhartha had first heard about Kirik Party, the Kannada film starring Rakshit Shetty, Rashmika, and Samyuktha, little did he realise that it will go on to become a special film in his career as well. For nearly three months, he didn’t want to watch the film despite several people talking about it. It wasn’t until Anil Sunkara, who bought the remake rights for the Telugu version, insisted that Nikhil watch the film since the duo had already planned to work together. “It’s funny when I think about it because I was almost not going to be part of this remake. But five minutes into the film, I knew that I wanted to do the remake. It’s got a mad energy about it and I just fell in love with the Kannada version,” Nikhil recalls, as he walks down the memory lane.
Kirrak Party, directed by Sharan, is set in a college and it follows the lives of a bunch of friends, and how its lead character Krishna goes from being a normal guy to a student leader. Incidentally, the last time Nikhil had done a full-fledged college-based entertainer, he was also making his debut. Remind him about that film - Sekhar Kammula’s Happy Days - and pat comes the reply, “It’s been a really long time since we had a film which starts and ends in college. I guess Happy Days and Kotha Bangaru Lokam were among the last few films which explored that space. For the past few years, I’ve been doing so many serious films that I have been wanting to do something fun, and Kirrak Party was perfect for me in every sense. It explores themes like friendship, love, grief, student politics. There’s something very genuine and honest about it that you’ll fall in love with.”
When the film’s first teaser was unveiled, a lot of people drew parallels between Kirrak Party and RGV-Nagarjuna’s classic Shiva. Does Kirrak Party pay tribute to the classic in any manner? “It does, in a lot of ways. I guess you could say that for any film which is set in college and also deals with student politics. Besides, me and my friends who worked on this film - Sharan, Chandoo Mondeti, Sudheer Varma - are huge fans of Shiva. So, there are certain elements in the film that pay homage to Shiva,” Nikhil says, adding, “Now that I think about it, long before I signed this film, I remember telling my manager that I want to do a film where the first half feels like Pawan Kalyan’s Kushi and the second half is close to Shiva. I guess we ticked both the boxes with Kirrak Party (laughs).”
While most part of the film has been shot in Hyderabad, and few other places in coastal Andhra Pradesh, the team also shot some footage in the Himalayas. When they reached Gangotri, out of nowhere, director Sharan asked the crew if they could shoot in the army base much to everyone’s surprise. “We had gone to Gangotri at the peak of the Doklam issue near the Indo-China border, and there was no way we could have gotten permission to shoot in the army base. Even the local managers who were guiding us didn’t think it was possible, but we wanted to try our luck anyway. And as soon as the officials at the army base got to know we are from Telugu film industry, the first thing they said was, 'Baahubali!' And guess what? They let us shoot there for free! Nearly 500 jawaans welcomed us and made us feel really comfortable throughout the shoot. That was the day when I truly understood the impact of Baahubali and how it has managed to cut across all cultural and linguistic barriers,” Nikhil confesses.
Kirrak Party comes at a crucial juncture in the actor’s career whose past few films have been critically and commercially successful. If Swamy Ra Ra gave his career a new lease of life few years ago, subsequent films like Ekkadiki Pothaave Chinnavada, Keshava, and Surya Vs Surya earned him more credibility as an actor. And Nikhil confesses that Kiraak Party too is a very special film for him in a lot of ways. “I don’t know if I’m going to play a college student anytime soon after this. I’m not getting any younger (laughs). I totally forgot the fact that I had done 14 films before this because every single day on this film’s set was a pleasant experience and I don’t think I’ve said this about any of my films so far. It's a story that anyone who has been to college will relate to and it reminded me of my college days too. I felt that I have matured as an actor because the character goes through a lot of transition in the course of the story. And I hope people also see this while watching the film that I’ve improved a lot (smiles),” Nikhil signs off.
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