9 November 2016
“A day without laughter is a day wasted,” said Charlie Chaplin. In this world where survival is a struggle for most, a man who can make us laugh is all that anyone needs. Allari Naresh is that man for Tollywood audiences. Talking about being a comedy hero he says, “Honestly, doing comedy is the toughest job for any actor because it has to be perfectly timed. It has to be over animated but not overacted so that thin line is a pretty tough one to walk. I personally love playing serious roles and think I would make a better serious actor but comedy has worked great for me.” In this exclusive interview he opens up to us about going back to his roots with Intlo Dayyam Nakem Bhayyam, experiencing a new high through fatherhood and how he found magic in an unusual situation.
Coming Full Circle
Still in his early thirties, Naresh already has a long list of achievements to boast of. He has a decade and a half of experience working as a lead actor and has starred in over 50 films. How has he evolved over those years? “Every decision I’ve made was a conscious one so all the work I’ve done is close to me. I never did anything out of obligation or for money. It has been a great experience and achievement but I never think that I know everything about acting. Every day I learn something new and with the introduction of new technologies, the game is constantly changing. Now CG has become a very important aspect of filmmaking. I and others have to adapt, so we do.”
And how does he adapt if something goes wrong? Say one of his films fail? “The issue with films is that there are a few people – maybe 10 main brains that put together a cinema and try to convince the other 10 crore people to like it. Sometimes this process goes wrong and I don’t blame it on anyone else. Of course afterwards everyone does a post-mortem and many people give their opinions on why it didn’t work. I try not to make the same mistakes. After Sudigadu especially there was a lot of pressure for every scene in my films to have comedy so regardless of whether the scene on screen was an emotional one, romantic one, or whether it was a song or a fight, comedy was inserted. Instead of having comedy come from the script as my earlier films did, the scripts post Sudigadu were being written for comedy. This was something I came to realise was not working. A film requires every emotion in the right space so now I’m definitely back to my roots with Intlo Dayyam Nakem Bhayyam (IDNB).” We definitely can’t wait!
Speaking of his roots, we wondered if he is going to start directing soon. “There is no set target date as of now but ever since I was young, acting and directing were two of the most important things to me. I always wanted to direct like my dad but I will only do about two to three films; and I won’t act in them. We are working on something so maybe in the next six to seven months I’ll take a call. Acting though will always be my priority.”
Virupa the Photographer
Being an actor and a very famous one at that; how does his family deal with constantly being in the limelight? “My father and brother were both in the film fraternity so for my mom all the men in the family were in it. For Virupa it was all new at first but now she is used to it. She actually tells me to walk 10 feet in front of her if we are at airports or anywhere public because whenever people recognise me and want to click a picture they ask her to take the photo. She says my fans are turning her into my personal photographer!” he jokes.
Does he ever find it intrusive? “Most of the time people are polite and ask you before taking a photo but there are some cases where people just flash in your face and it takes you a minute to realise what just happened. Maybe they think we won’t oblige if they ask for permission. I find it insensitive especially if I’m with my family and want to have some private time.”
Has he had any such experiences with social media? “The good thing is that now everyone can directly ask a question and I can answer without any third party interpretation. We are in an age where so much of our lives are uploaded onto the net instantaneously. People know where we are shooting, what we are doing. The down side is that some people take it to another level. Take for example Laddu Babu, the look in that film was very special to me. A lot of effort went into it. But unfortunately some people on set who carry camera phones think it is ok to reveal such looks. They don’t understand the effort and expenses that have gone into the project and that the reveal could be a major blow to many people working on the project. They don’t see the suffering it causes others. Then there is also the new sensationalising trend. Actors are also human right – we get sick, we have personal issues. Maybe in those situations some sensitivity would be good. I can’t generalise but there have been instances where I feel that things could be dealt with better. Earlier there were only a handful of popular websites but now there are so many. Sometimes the headlines of the news articles are written so dubiously but when you open the story it is so innocent. Maybe they think negativity will increase readership in this competition. Then there are times when a story becomes something entirely different because of the spices added as the story goes through a Chinese whispers kind of process.”
About His Baby Girl
Getting back to family, does the couple get to travel much now that they’ve got a little one? “We used to travel quite a bit earlier but now the baby needs a lot of attention. It’s only been six weeks so maybe after some months!” What other ways has life changed since the arrival of the baby? “I’m a lot more patient now. Babies can’t speak so their only way of communication is crying regardless of the time. That means my schedules and life also changed. I’ve actually taken a month off just to spend time with her! This is a special phase because they are at their most trusting and so innocent. Every time I see her or hold her I think kids that age are so lucky – they don’t have any worries, no judgements, no pressure. They do not recognise anyone or ponder about who is good or bad. They are ok to be held by anyone as long as they are comfortable. When I’m having a stressful day and I come back home to see her smiling in her sleep it just wipes away all the mental stress. It is truly a special feeling. It has to be experienced. I don’t have any words to describe it. There are so many guys in my family so I always wanted a girl. And when she was born – it was the best moment of my life!” This has to be the biggest ‘aw’ moment of celebrity interviews!
The Magical Boy
As much as we hate to stop gushing over his newborn, we continue. Now that Naresh has taken some time off, is there anything other than cinema and family that interests him? “I watch a lot of sport and I love to travel. Bali has always been special to me because it was the first place I visited. But I enjoy travelling to many other locations as well.” Have there been any interesting stories on those travels? “When I was shooting in Phuket I came across a baby boy. He looked European but spoke in Thai. I asked the restaurant owner about him and found out that he washed up on their shore after the tsunami in mid 2000s. They had no idea who he was but the locals bought him up and took care of him. They tried to find his parents but couldn’t. I find that story so fascinating because that is nothing short of magic to me. A little baby washed up alone after a tsunami and no one knows where he came from. I feel like there is something magical about him. The first time I saw him was when he was about six months old and now every time I go to Phuket I make it a point to visit him.” That is such a sweet story and one that puts forth the emotional depth and intellect of this wonderful human being.
From reminiscing to looking ahead, what does he have in store after IDNB? “I’ll start shooting from either end of November or early December on a Malayalam remake. There is also another movie starting in February next year with a new director.”
Intlo Dayyam Nakem Bhayyam
And finally the movie that is about to release. Although it is a comedy, it is entirely different to his previous films Naresh clarifies. “It is the first time I’m doing a horror-comedy. I’ve tried other genres but this is new for both me and the director. Our combination yielded hits like Seema Sastry and Seema Tapakai so there were expectations when we came together again. I wanted to try something else; it was something I hadn’t done and horror-comedies have worked well in recent times so we spoke to the producer about it and he was convinced that it would be a good bet. As an actor I’m used to making people laugh but this time I had to balance scaring them along with it. Earlier I thought it would be easy but once the shoot started I realised that it wasn’t. There are a lot of elements that need to come together for a horror comedy to work. But apart from the technical aspects I can truly say that the audience will get to see something entirely new in IDNB. They have seen ghosts coming back for revenge or to fulfil unfinished business but this is the first time they will witness what happens when a ghost falls in love with a man and wants to marry him!” The concept is so new and original that it took us a minute to digest and soon enough we were intrigued. As much as we love watching Allari Naresh making us laugh, we might actually enjoy being scared by him even more!
- Maya Nelluri