After back-to-back hits, Samantha Akkineni is ready to set the box office on fire with her film Oh Baby. The actor recently spoke to the media about the Nandini Reddy directorial.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Oh Baby has been promoted quite extensively. Any reason behind that?
I am promoting it so much because the film is special and everyone should watch it. The story deserves it.
Q. Can we consider Oh Baby as a test for you as an actor?
Maybe it is a test. We can never say about how many people visit theaters only for the heroine. So far, we acted with superstars such as Mahesh Babu, Jr NTR, Ram Charan and Allu Arjun. They pull people to theaters. We do not know how many will come to see us (female leads). But I guess with films like this, it is important to test your ability to draw people to theaters. What I know is that I did a good film. People will know it once they watch it.
Q. Oh Baby looks like a perfect blend of different emotions.
I consciously opted for this genre because heroines usually get thrillers or message-oriented dramas, which immediately turn into films only for a niche audience. Such films do not fare well at the box office. So, it automatically feels like heroine-oriented films won’t collect much but it is also because of the genre that you select.
I learned this with U-Turn. The film got very positive reviews but it didn’t collect money at the box office. I can’t blame the audience. I can only improve my mistake. We can’t compare the collections of heroine-oriented films with other films. We have to change the way of filmmaking for the heroines and make it more universal. That’s why I chose Oh Baby. It has comedy, commercial elements, sentiment etc. It is a universal film.
Q. Do you think remakes are a safe option?
I think every film has its own challenges. Remaking a classic is definitely a very difficult task. Oh Baby is the seventh remake of the original film Miss Granny. So, we are dealing with a classic here. But we have to remake it, according to our culture and sentiments. We were very careful in that aspect. We sat down with the cast and crew of the original version for four hours to know about the purposes and back-stories of each scene and character, which I do not think has happened before for any other remake made in India. We did it because we wanted to preserve the original connect and that’s why the Korean producers are also part of this film as well.
Q. Is it the toughest character in your career?
Yes, it is because comedy looks very easy on the screen but it’s very hard and draining. Every day after 6 pm, I used to be completely exhausted. For me, emotional scenes are easy since I am aware of the timing and rhythm of such scenes. I don’t know much about the rhythm of comedy.
I did bits and pieces of comedy in my earlier films but Oh Baby is a complete comedy film. I had to be on the same rhythm every day to continue the tempo. It was challenging for me as a 70-year-old had to be in a 25-year-old body without being overdramatic. It had to be comic for everyone but I had to maintain a fine line between emotions, comedy and being a 70-year-old.
Q. What was the prep?
I grew up without grandparents. So, I went to an old-age home and tried to pick up as much as I could in terms of their (older generation) behavior. When I interacted with them, I felt that as they grew older, they become more childlike. I noticed it for my performance and it helped me in the film.
Q. We heard you suggested the film to Nandini Reddy. Why did you think she will be the right director for the film?
Nandini Reddy is a dear friend of mine and she is an adult but has a child’s heart (smiles). She is a pure heart despite being in the industry for these many years. She is much like Baby (Samantha’s character in the film). So, I felt like she can do it from a woman’s point of view and she could do complete justice to it. I am very proud of that decision now.
Q. How was it working with Rajendra Prasad?
He did teach me a lot about where to make a cut, how to land a punch (comedy line) and how to end it. My experience of working with such an actor has improved my acting. He was very helpful. The scenes I have done with Rajendra Prasad will be on another level.
Q. How did you grasp the mannerisms of Lakshmi garu?
Actually, I wanted to do much more but I had only one day to observe the mannerisms of Lakshmi garu. We have no scenes together. So, on that one day, I noticed everything about her – the way she walks, talks and everything. It was fun because I had to remember her body language throughout the film. So, a lot of work went into building the character.
Q. What was your rapport with Rao Ramesh? How did you act like his mother?
I have worked hardest on the climax scene of the film. I had to look at Rao Ramesh garu as my son and I had to be emotional. I had to feel like I gave birth to him. I think that was the only scene in my entire career where I took two hours break before shooting for it. I had a little overconfidence in myself in regards to emotional scenes but this scene was most difficult.
Q. Are you feeling like a complete actor now?
I can never feel like a complete actor because I will always forget what I did last and I always want to do something different.