Happy and relaxed

Happy and relaxed
Highlights

It has been 32 hours since his older son Naga Chaitanya got engaged to Samantha, but on Tuesday morning it was business as usual for Nagarjuna, as he sat down with us to speak about his devotional drama, ‘Om Namo Venkatesaya,’ which is scheduled to hit the marquee on February 10.

It has been 32 hours since his older son Naga Chaitanya got engaged to Samantha, but on Tuesday morning it was business as usual for Nagarjuna, as he sat down with us to speak about his devotional drama, ‘Om Namo Venkatesaya,’ which is scheduled to hit the marquee on February 10.

He admits that he was initially not drawn towards the K Raghavendra Rao directorial, which narrates the tale of Baba Hathiram, the 18th century ardent devotee of Lord of Seven Hills. “In fact, I was scared, but Raghavendra Rao asked me to hear the complete script. Post the narration; I felt it has no similarities with ‘Annamayya’. Also, it was an inspiring story and the screenplay was interestingly designed, prompting me to green-lit it,” Nag recalls.

He points out that since they had little information on Hathiram, they had to resort to fiction. “If you Google about Hathiram, the maximum information that you can’t get about him runs into a page, so we took his character and added some fictional elements around it,” he informs.
Does his prep change when he does a devotional film? He informs that when he does a devotional film, changes happen to him without his notice.

“When you listen to the film’s dialogues, which have a philosophical tone to them and when you hear the music, which is completely pure, you are transported to do a different world. These factors help you become the part even before you land on the sets. I have noticed the same with some other members of the unit too,” he exults.

Nag is known to dole out his own creative inputs to directors but when it comes to Raghavendra Rao, he doesn’t. “Only when I don’t like a particular scene, I will confide in him, ‘It’s not getting into my head.’ He goes back and comes up with a better scene the next day,” he reveals, pointing out that he helps the veteran filmmaker only when it comes to VFX.

His last three collaborations with Rao have been costume dramas. Would he like to change that with a commercial potboiler when they team up the next time? “If he comes up with a good subject, I am ready. I have done some wonderful commercial cinema with him; in fact out of the world commercial cinema,” he laughs, hinting that the more than 100-films-old director may not associate with filmmaking any longer.

“He has become more spiritual and religious for the past few years. I have noticed the change. Half the time, he is at Tirumala (Rao is now a member of TTD executive board) trying to formulate better rules.”

Post ‘Manam,’ Nag has become extremely choosy about the kind of films that he wants to associate with. He admits that he is not rushing with things and is in a relaxed phase. “I am doing what I like. I am thinking and planning more.

The only thing that I keep in mind: Not just I, the exhibitors and producers too should make money. I am getting many remake offers. Someone approached me to star in ‘Oppam’ Telugu remake recently but I’ve felt that its success will stay at a certain level and will not reach the next level, so I am being careful about the commercial viability of my films too.”

Not rushing with things is the same reason why Akhil’s second film has got delayed. Nag is to produce the film under Annapurna Studios. “Director Vikram Kumar had worked on a (particular) script for three months but we were both unhappy with the way it shaped up. He has started work on another idea and I think it would materialise.

It’s a new genre and has the potential to set a trend,” he declares, not ruling out the possibility of making the film in Tamil too simultaneously. “Vikram has a name in Tamil industry but it depends… At the script level, we are thinking to make it in Telugu alone.”

Nag is happy with good friend Chiranjeevi’s comeback to films. Did he expect ‘Khaidi No 150’ to collect the money that it has, till now? “He worked hard for so many years to be accepted by the people. Why will they forget him? I am not surprised by the response the film has got,” he ends.

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