Nithiin, director Venky Kudumula on their new film Bheeshma, and how the actor's real life inspired the story

Telugu actor Nithiin, who got engaged less than a week before the release of Bheeshma, says it is ironical he plays a singleton in search of a soulmate.

Hemanth Kumar February 20, 2020 12:48:57 IST
Nithiin, director Venky Kudumula on their new film Bheeshma, and how the actor's real life inspired the story

For almost a decade, Nithiin, best known for films like Ishq, A...Aa, and Gunde Jaari Gallanthayindhe, has been relentlessly bombarded with queries about when he plans to get married. At one point, he evaded the question saying he would think about marriage after his friends Rana Daggubati and Prabhas break their silence about the topic. While that has not happened yet, Nithiin took everyone by surprise earlier this year when he announced he will get married to his longtime girlfriend Shalini on 16 April.

This has been his best kept secret, considering he first met her back in 2012. Nithiin says, “It was a conscious decision to keep our relationship away from the limelight because it’s too much to handle for someone who isn’t from the industry.” The duo got engaged on 15 February, a week before his latest film, Bheeshma, was slated for release. “In hindsight, I think it’s pretty funny because the film is about me being a singleton, and how he ends up finding his soulmate,” the actor says.

Directed by Venky Kudumula, Bheeshma stars Nithiin and Rashmika Mandanna in lead roles, with veteran Kannada actor Anant Nag playing a key role. Having worked as an assistant director on the sets of Trivikram Srinivas’ A..Aa, which had Nithiin playing a lead role, Venky says he has been harbouring the desire to work with him for a while now.

“I have been following his career right from the beginning, and I was quite happy when he bounced back with Ishq after a lull in his career. Even while shooting my first film, Chalo, I was hoping to work with him soon. In a way, Bheeshma was always meant for him,” Venky says.

Incidentally, the idea behind the story of Bheeshma is inspired from Nithiin’s life. “For the longest time, people kept asking Nithiin why he wasn’t getting married. I wanted to use his singleton status as a theme in the film. This is the story of a guy who doesn’t get married because of his name, Bheeshma. And there’s another character with the same name, a role played by Anant Nag, which is inspired from Bheeshma’s characterisation in the Mahabharata, who goes to great lengths for an oath he had taken. How these two characters are related is the crux of the story. But it’s a breezy entertainer, even though we have touched upon the concept of organic farming in the story,” the director adds.

Nithiin’s career, over the years, has gone through plenty of highs and lows. At one point, after a string of 12 flops in a row, he thought his career was almost finished. “Vikram Kumar’s Ishq, and then Gunde Jaari Gallanthayindhe, stabilised my career to an extent,” Nithiin confesses. After that, although he scored a blockbuster with A...Aa, his recent films like LIE, Chal Mohan Ranga, and Srinivasa Kalyanam fizzled out at the box office.

Ask him if he blames himself for choosing wrong scripts, and he reflects on his own career, saying, “That was definitely the case until Ishq happened. And after that, I worked with some renowned directors, and I didn’t want to interfere in their work at all. Sometimes, you convince yourself that things might work out well, even if you aren’t entirely convinced about how the film is shaping up. No one wants to make a bad film intentionally, and there’s no guarantee that a film will do well, despite taking all the precautions,” the actor says.

Post the release of Srinivasa Kalyanam in 2018, the actor took a long break to decide about his next slate of films. He recalls putting his foot down when it comes to the script. “There have been occasions when I took up a film without hearing the full script but now, I insist on a bound script, and I want to get involved more with respect to how the script shapes up. People gave me a second chance as an actor with Ishq. I don’t think my career is in such a dire state this time around. Bheeshma will entertain people thoroughly.”

For Venky, the toughest part was convincing Kannada actor Anant Nag to play a key role in the film. “He told me that he doesn’t want to be part of a non-Kannada film but I was quite interested in signing him for the film. His presence adds a lot of panache to the film, and he came on board only after I made an earnest effort to convince him about the role he was going to play. I spent almost an year working on the script of this film. After Chalo, I couldn’t write anything for a while but then I convinced myself saying that I’m not running a race. No one is eagerly waiting for my film but I’m going to be judged when the film comes out. That helped me to focus on my work more.”

The duo is all praise for the lead actress, Rashmika. Having worked with her earlier in Chalo, which also marked her debut in Telugu cinema, Venky says, “She’s quite hardworking, and a joy to work with. When she signed Chalo, she could barely speak a word of Telugu, and by the time the film had released, she had already become a big star in Kannada post Kirik Party released. But she hasn’t changed as a person. It was an easy choice to work with her again in Bheeshma.”

Nithiin director Venky Kudumula on their new film Bheeshma and how the actors real life inspired the story

Rashmika Mandanna and Nithiin in a still from Bheeshma. YouTube

Admittedly, Nithiin was not too convinced initially, when Venky suggested her name for Bheeshma, but after having worked with her, the two struck a great rapport. “I’m the newcomer in this team, which had already worked in Chalo,” Nithiin smiles, adding, “Rashmika is great fun to work with, and I hope people also like our chemistry in the film. Both of us went berserk when it came to the songs in the film. It’s been a long time since I’ve danced so much on screen!”

Apart from Bheeshma, Nithiin states he was also shooting for Venky Atluri’s Rang De and Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s next in 2019. And this year, after his wedding on 16 April in Dubai, the actor will soon kick off the Telugu remake of Andhadhun and Krishna Chaitanya’s Powerpeta. “Juggling between three films is a nightmare. Each director has his own approach to how he wants me to perform, and it was too much to handle after a point. I could barely take a day off because all three projects were on floors at the same time. Although I am quite relaxed right now, the wedding festivities are going to kick off soon, and looking at all the ceremonies that I’ve to take part in, now I feel that shooting for three films is a lot easier,” Nithiin signs off, laughing.


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