Nani’s latest movie V is set to debut on Amazon Prime Video this Saturday. And he promises that the upcoming action fare will bring in the much-needed fresh air in the entertainment space that has grown stale, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are excerpts from Nani’s exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com:
Earlier in an interview, you said that your vacation is going to film shoots. When your work is such an integral part of your life, how difficult was it to stay away from it for more than five months?
It was very difficult. But I am glad this time because of my son who is three and a half years old. It is a very cute age during which they learn to talk. I was shooting in Rajahmundry for 20 days, and before that, I shot in Palani for 15 days. I remember every time I came back home, I used to feel that I was missing something. This (COVID break) was a blessing in disguise. Now, even if I step out for a short while, my son asks me where I am going and why I am going. I know it is going to be difficult when I get back to work.
Is there a difference between the way the actor Nani selects a film and the way you okay a film as a producer?
As an actor, I select films that challenge me as an actor. To progress in your acting career, you should make sure that you do something new every time so that people don’t skip your films. As a producer, I want to produce unique scripts, which conventional producers would think twice to produce.
Does the poor reception of your films prevent you from taking risks and saying yes to experimental movies?
Never. If you see after every blockbuster of mine, I went with something unconventional. Whenever I do a commercial film, which kind of falls into a format, people have loved me. I know there is nothing wrong if once in a while I go back and do commercial films. I know I can deliver. When I did films like Nenu Local or MCA, they worked big time. People loved me in Jersey, and people loved me in MCA also. But, I know I can’t take that for granted. So when I have a big blockbuster, I jump into some projects which are completely away from what is considered a safe bet.
Are you open to movies that require you to put on weight or get shredded?
I am a workaholic. I will be doing films back to back. I need to know what I should do much before. If I am told at the last minute, I can’t sit at home for four months and do something. But, if the script motivates me and has something solid, maybe I will do that.
What did you like about V?
The fact that it is a thriller and not dark. The way it was narrated and the characterization was done (I loved it). When they say, it is about a killer and a cop, it may sound dark. But, V is not dark. V is all that a mainstream film would offer, despite being unique. That’s what I really liked about V. Nobody will except a movie like V from Mohana Krishna Indraganti, who introduced me in Ashta Chamma, has done this film 12 years later. He has never done this genre before. It is going to something very new.
This is your 25th film, which is a landmark in your career. Did you have any reservations about sharing screen space with another star like Sudheer Babu?
I never look at things like that. In fact, in Ashta Chamma, I was chosen to play the friend’s role. And they were looking for an actor to play the hero. One day, Mohan sir told me, ‘Nani, we want you to be the hero.’ And I told Mohan sir, ‘No sir, I want to play the friend’s role.’ So for me, it’s always about the role I like. Even if you see, Yevade Subramanyam, Subramanyam was the grumpy one in the script and Rishi (played by Vijay Devarakonda) was the likeable one. And I chose the grumpy one. And in Devdas, Nag sir’s character is full of swag, and there will be a cool background score when he comes on screen. But, I am this stupid, nerdy doctor.
They say the devil gets the best lines. Is that the reason you chose to play the bad guy in V?
I didn’t pick it. It was offered to me. It is not like I was ever given a choice. As soon as Mohan sir narrated the movie to me, I asked him which role he was pitching to me. He said he was pitching me the killer. And I said, ‘Thanks, I loved it.’
Did you have a reference for your character in real life or pop culture?
Not really. I had one of my friends in mind. I was able to connect with his mannerisms and I thought his body language could work for my character. But, it did not work out. The moment I went to the shoot, I knew that I couldn’t do exactly what I had in mind. I think I picked a few things from my friend and mixed it up with what I could do on location. And something unique came up.
While watching the trailer, it felt like Sudheer Babu does all the action, while you get to speak all the best lines. Is it the same through the film?
No, I have done some action scenes also. But, dialogue baazi is also definitely me.
What convinced you to go with an OTT release for V?
We have waited enough, and now is the time everybody is looking forward to new content. The audiences have made a successful actor. If we can’t give them a film when they need it, what is the point? We thought that the OTT platform is a great window. The film is ready and it is going to reach out to such a big audience, so it is exciting in a very different way. We still don’t know how things will turn out, and we thought let’s get some excitement back into the cinema business.
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