Nani on learning from failures, resisting big offers, friends, taking a holiday and babies

It has been quite a turnaround for Nani. With 2013-14 adding nothing to his CV, he has now hit a purple patch as his last three releases ‘Yevade Subramanyam’, ‘Bhale Bhale Magadivoy’ and ‘Krishnagaadi Veera Prema Gaadha’have set the box-office coffers ringing big time. But the actor admits to have learnt more from his failures than hits.  “If you ask me now whether I would have done ‘Paisa’ (2014) and ‘Aaha Kalyanam’ (2014) three years ago I would still say yes, because what I learnt from them is more compared to what I learnt from my hits,” he exults.

The suave actor is presently awaiting the release of ‘Gentleman’, which marks him reteaming up with mentor Indraganti Mohanakrishna after ‘Ashta Chamma’. The director’s last film, ‘Bandhipotu’ hasn’t fared well at the turnstile but that was the last thing on Nani’s mind to have signed the film. “I did tell Indraganti a few years ago that we should team up but he insisted that I do a film with him only if I’m convinced with the script. We did discuss a couple of ideas but nothing fruitful emerged from them. Later, he sent me the draft of ‘Gentleman’ and even before I got a hand on it he rang me up multiple times and advised me to green-lit it only if I was sure.”

Nani informs that he is someone who never believes in doing films for obligations. “Recently a very close friend of mine pitched a story to me. But I had to turn it down and tell him that it will neither benefit him nor me. It’s not a big call for me do the film but if it doesn’t do well, the chances of him getting another shot at direction will be zilch,” he reasons, pointing out that the friend in question didn’t speak to him for six months. “He later understood that I didn’t sign the film in the larger interest of his good and we are now on talking terms.”

Admittedly, Nani had to let go of crazy offers to do ‘Gentleman’. One of them was with a top production house and with a reputed name attached to helm it. “I had to decline it because I know that they (the big names) didn’t help me to reach where I’m now. We are living in times where no one will invest on you because they love you, its pure business. I might have done something right to be where I am and will rather continue with it than falling prey to big names,” he exults.

So, what is that thing that drove him to do ‘Gentleman’? Nani informs that it was his role Jai, which got him all pumped up. “”It was my biggest challenge as an actor. He (the character) is that mysterious guy in our friends circle. You never know how he reacts and that is what exactly I wanted to portray on screen. Normally I drop by the location, read the scenes for the day, shoot and leave but on ‘Gentleman’ sets I had to read the earlier day sequences and the next day sequences to get my present day shot to perfection,” he maintains.

One of the most sought-after actors of the current lot and with a success ratio which is second to none, Nani states that he always makes a point to stay close to reality. “My close friends are from my school and college and they never treat me like a star. If they don’t like my film, they bluntly say it at my face. Same is the case with my family. I might have been a different person had I lost them. I believe in staying close to reality and taking criticism in my own stride.”

The actor has been shooting round the clock for the past two years. Isn’t he yearning for a vacay? “Shooting for a film gives me a high. I’m enjoying what I’m doing and as such I’m not in need of a getaway. I also get very excited when a film of mine nears the release date and when the director calls me and says the advance bookings are in full swing. I don’t want to miss out on these precious moments for a holiday,” he declares, admitting that he has increased his pace as far as films are concerned. “My film with Virinchi Varma will release this year. It’s a deliberate attempt to do multiple films.”

Nani, who married longtime girlfriend Anjana in October 2012, insists that he is not in a rush to welcome a baby into his family. “I’m very happy. I’m not planning a baby as of now. Anjana is employed with a Hyderabad-based firm and she is happy with her job. There’s no pressure on us,” Nani guffaws, confiding that he will be teaming up with good friend Avasarala Srinivas for a project in late 2017.

By Nagaraj Goud