Nani on success of maiden production: 'Awe! had more social media traction than any of my films'
2018 began on a high for Nani as his plunge into film production with Prashant Varma’s Awe! paid off richly, earning the critical acclaim tag as well as setting the cash registers on fire. In this chat with Firstpost, Nani opens up on his future production plans, playing two contrast roles in his latest release Krishnarjuna Yuddham, teaming up with actor Akkineni Nagarjuna and why he feels he still is not ready to explore opportunities in Tamil filmdom.
Nani clarifies Awe! is not his one-off attempt as a producer. He wants to continue backing new talent with quirky ideas. “The success of Awe! has been overwhelming, simply because its reception was beyond our expectations. It was not meant to be a film for everybody. We had made it for a section of the audience and they loved it. But what really surprised us was that the film was celebrated by one and all. We received glowing reviews from critics and audiences alike,” Nani said, adding he could not have been happier as a producer. “When you win backing such an experimental film, there can be nothing more rewarding.”
He does not agree with the point of view that audiences lapped up Awe! because it was his film. “I don’t think audiences saw Awe! as Nani’s film. They didn’t love the film just because I produced it. They genuinely loved the film because it was good. Awe! had more traction on social media than any of my films. For me, it’s the film of the year.”
Talking about his future plans as a producer, Nani said, “I want to introduce as many new talents as possible. Not necessarily directors but actors and technicians too. A few decades from now, when people look back at my work, I want them to remember my production house Wall Poster Cinema.” He also clarified he is not producing Awe! director Prashant’s next film. “I have assigned a team that’s listening to new scripts. Many new directors have been approaching us since the release of Awe!. My team screens stories which they find interesting and pitch it to me in a few lines. If the idea interests me then I listen to the whole story.”
On the acting front, Nani’s Krishnarjuna Yudham hit the screens last week. Teaming up with director Merlapaka Gandhi for the first time, he played dual roles in the film. “Although I’ve played dual roles in Janda Pai Kappiraju, I didn’t want to miss playing such contrast roles. It was really exciting to see myself in such contrast roles in a single frame.” In the film, Nani plays Krishna and Arjun. While the former is a villager from Chitoor, the latter is a rockstar playboy who lives in Prague.
Without sounding biased, Nani said he enjoyed playing Krishna more than Arjun. “Not because the rockstar character is new to me. There’s a Krishna in most of us and it was easier to relate to it on a personal level. Arjun character was equally fun because it was quite challenging.” As Krishna, Nani had to pick up the Chitoor accent and he gives all credit to his director. “Gandhi is a proper Chitoor guy. He speaks the accent fluently and he even wrote the script in it. It took me two days to adjust to the fact that it was a new accent. I spoke confidently from the third day,” he recalls.
Nani has commenced shooting for his next project which also stars Nagarjuna. Without divulging too much information about the film, he said, “It’s been a week since I started shooting with him. We’ve shot a song so far. It’s been so much fun. I feel like working with an actor of my age group.” He has not signed any other new project. “There are a few projects in discussion. I really don’t know which one will materialise first. Therefore, I really can’t comment about them at the moment.”
Not long ago, Nani was supposed to collaborate with Mani Ratnam on a Tamil project. For various reasons, his dream of working with the auteur remains unfulfilled. Asked if he is interested to explore opportunities in Tamil, he said, “I’ve done a film in Tamil and it didn’t do any good to me. The problem is I don’t speak or know the language. Even in the past, I struggled to work in Tamil because it’d take me more time to finish a film because of the language barrier. I’m extremely busy in Telugu and I don’t think I have time to take chances.”
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2018 15:27 PM