Nagarjuna talks about Om Namo Venkatesaya
Nagarjuna's 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' will hit the screens on Feb 10th. In this interview, the experimental actor talks about how he approached the role of a Balaji devotee, his 100th movie, his sons' films and more.
'ONV' is an imaginative story-telling. How did you approach the role?
I totally relied on the vision of K Raghavendra Rao garu and JK Bharavi garu. The story starts when he is all of 8 years old and is told till he reaches 50. Unlike Annamacharyulu, who was a literary genius and was sophisticated, Baba's characterization is not on those lines.
While the life and times and works of Annamacharyulu is well-documented, the legend of Hathi Ram Baba is obscure. We all know the kirtanas written by the former, but the details about the latter can be had only from one or two sources. Legend has it that he came from North India or Maharashtra.
What is Anushka's role? Is there a romantic angle?
The Baba comes to Tirumala in search of God. Krishnamma (Anushka) acts as a guide to him in his quest. She is well-versed with the local traditions here. There is no romantic angle between them. Their relationship is only spiritual.
What about glamour quotient, a must in a Raghavendra Rao movie?
Of course, Pragya Jaiswal is there. The song 'Anandam' has come out very well. The legend has it that Baba had a 'maradalu', but he didn't marry her. He was never married, for that matter.
Are you going to do a film with Bharavi?
I have told Bharavi that I won't listen to his story if it's a devotional. I don't want to be stuck with the same kind of role, especially when I am going to talk with a ghost in 'Raju Gaari Gadhi'. (Laughs).
What about your 100th film? Surely, a landmark film will have to be special.
I am not thinking about it as yet. The count that fans have is different from my count. I will let you know when I arrive at the count. How can one consider my guest appearances in films like 'Premam' as a full-fledged film? Chandoo (Mondeti) is in talks with me.
Since the time of 'Annamayya', the market has grown by leaps and bounds. What are your expectations from 'ONV'? Do you think it will reach to the youths?
The market has expanded. But I am not able to judge 'ONV'. We can't take anything for granted. Strategy matters a lot.
I am happy that, despite two very big releases, 'Shatamanam Bhavati' has done so well. It worked because of Dil Raju's strategy (of adding more theatres a week later), which is similar to what we had followed in the case of 'Soggade Chinni Nayana'.
Your two sons have turned a new leaf in their lives. Your comments. Tell us also about their upcoming films.
I am very happy and it will be nicer to see my children lead happy lives. Vikram Kumar had come up with an idea, but it couldn't be taken to a conclusion. He then came up with another line, which has a proper beginning, interval and climax. If these three things are good, half the battle is won. I promise that Akhil's movie will be a path-breaking one.
As for Naga Chaitanya, I see him as a boy-next-door whom people want to hug. That's how he is in 'Premam', for example. That's why I have okayed a 'Ninne Pelladatha'-like movie for him, in the direction of Kalyan Krishna. It's a beautiful film high on family emotions. And it's for the first time that you will see Chay talking in native Telugu, writing which Kalyan is very good at. Don't ask me about the release. I myself don't know how many changes I will suggest once the shoot is done by March end.
You recently created news by saying that a multi-starrer with your son is not there at all.
If I am doing a film, I will tell it on Twitter. Otherwise too, I will let it be known. I have learnt from Donald Trump and Brexit campaigns the importance of Twitter. It's straight from the horse's mouth. You are bypassing the media and communicating directly. Within ten minutes of Chaitanya's engagement, I released the pics. It felt good.