Nagarjuna Akkineni is the most prolific star of Telugu cinema with continuous blockbusters since 2001. He attempted all kinds of genres and proved himself to be very successful. His 46th birthday is coming up on 29th August and his film Boss is due for the release in September. He was shooting for a song in Rama Naidu studios on 26th August when scribes met him for an interview. Here are the excerpts -
What is the USP of Boss (I Love You)?
It is a very entertaining love story between the boss of a real estate construction company and his secretary. Boss is a mix of Manmadhudu and Santosham kind of films. The producer D Siva Prasad Reddy believes in having all elements (action, comedy, romance and sentiment) in the film. There will be lot of comedy and romance in this film.
I would not go to the extend of telling that Boss is a new story. But Boss would definitely have new screenplay and would be a wholesome family entertainer.
How was the transformation from Ramadasu character to Boss character?
In the beginning it was difficult as I had to change my mannerisms and body language.
Which song did like personally the most in Boss audio?
We are shooting one song currently. We need to shoot another song later which is a solo song called ‘Dunneyi Dunneyi‘. I like the philosophy of that song very much. When a man is moving forward there would be lot of people trying to pull him down. You have to keep your goal in mind and keep going forward to achieve it. If you wish, it will happen.
How are you planning to celebrate this birthday?
My birthdays are very simple. I like to spend that day with the people who I care about and who care about me. The first thing in morning I go and visit my parents. Then I spend time with my fans who come from all over the state. Rest of the day I spend with my friends and be in my home. This birthday I would be working.
Which birthday did you remember the most?
I think it was five to six years ago. I was traveling from Chennai to Hyderabad on a flight. Two flights started from Chennai at the same time. The first flight crashed and people died. It was horrible thing. I was on the second flight and I did not know when this happened as I was on air. When I came home, my wife and my friends were looking at me like they were looking at a ghost. They were all in tears and were hugging me. That was one day I would not forget.
You worked with many heroines. Who do you think is the perfect pair on screen for you? You should not be diplomatic about it!
Sonali and myself in Manmadhudu was a very good pair. I liked the way the characters were designed. Then again Sonali was not my favorite heroine. But I will be diplomatic there and I won’t say anything. (giggles)
What was the feedback you got on Sri Ramadasu?
It was a very elevating news for me. I was very fortunate to be able to do that film. Not because somebody else can’t. It is because that it came to me.
Are you happy the way it was received?
Yes, of course.
How do you compare it with Annamayya?
They are two different films. Some intellectuals thought Annamayya was a better film. Some people with basic and raw emotions liked Sri Ramadasu better.
Sri Ramadasu film had more emotions as Sri Ramadasu struggled a lot compared to Annamayya.
Which one is more difficult to perform - Annamayya or Sri Ramadasu?
I think it is difficult to do Annamayya compared to Sri Ramadasu. Anamayya songs flow smoothly. But Sri Ramadasu songs have lots of emotion. So I worked hard for Anamayya to retain interest with smooth flowing songs. The songs in Sri Ramadasu automatically inspires you to give the right expression.
Which film do you rate better among Annamayya and Sri Ramadasu?
Personally I would rate Annamayya as a better film. But the audience liked Sri Ramadasu better. Sri Ramdasu attracted more patrons than Annamayya. Sri Ramadasu emotions are very strong and targeted towards the masses compared to Annamayya.
Sri Ramadasu film was not promoted when it was approaching 100 days?
By that time, it had it’s run. I moved on to my next project. I can’t sit on my success and feel ‘this is it’.
Do you think it is necessary to make a film run for 100 days though it is successful?
Yes. If it deserves. I won’t believe in running it in empty theaters. Sri Ramadasu ran for 100 days on it’s pure merit in lot of centers.
What is your favorite scene in Sri Ramadasu?
The scene that comes before interval and after the song ‘Antha Ramamayam’ is over.
Music director Keeravani gave a controversial statement in India Today (Telugu) that Sri Ramadasu would have been a flop if not for the background music and songs done by him?
I too heard about it though I have not read the article. I am very sorry if he felt that way. I don’t know about others. But for me, he is the hero of Sri Ramadasu and Annamayya. If I had upset him in any way I am very sorry. I sincerely believe Keeravani is the hero and songs gave me lot of inspiration. Songs are not important for a film like Manmadhudu. There are 19 songs in Sri Ramadasu film and out of 2 and half hours, one and half hour constitute of music. Keervani is fantastic. All films in our combination starting from Allari Alludu to Sri Ramadasu are hits. He is one of the few music directors who knows music.
What is the reason behind taking Kalyani Malik for Boss when your combination with Keeravani is going great?
That decision was taken by VN Aditya and D Siva Prasad Reddy. Kalyani Malik works with Keeravani. Producer and director have good rapport with Kalyani Malik. They asked me and I went ahead.
What is your all time favorite movie?
I really can't say.
How many times do you watch your films?
It was a rare occasion when I watch any of my films for the second time. For Sri Ramadasu I watched the film once and then I watched climax for around 30 times. That is because we previewed Sri Ramadasu to VIPs many times and I had to wait for them when film ends.
Which is the song you always hum?
At now it is jeele (a song from Boss). Among the recent films I hum Tauba Tauba from Stalin. Whenever I turn on the radio, I keep listening to gala gala pare selayerula from Pokiri. It somewhere reminds me of Enrique’s ’I love to see you cry’.
Which character among your films is really close to Nagarjuna?
It is a difficult question. I would say Manmadhudu because I love humor and jokes. I am always laughing and cracking jokes when I am with my friends.
What is the best compliment you received?
Men calling that I look like Manmadhudu. I like it when women compliment me. It feels good.
What is Nagarjuna in your own words?
It is a very dicey question. I try to be simple and happy. Content is what I would like to be.
What is your way of life?
It is a very difficult question. I try to be little positive. I take everyday as it comes. Whenever I design something for my life, they became flops. Be it movies or life!
What is the most common sms you get on your cell phone?
‘This is my phone number. Message me.’ That’s the most common sms. Sms has become such a easy way of sending out your feelings and opinions without being scared. I see lot of people saying lot of thinks they would not say face to face.
Tell us about your association with MAA TV?
It is not official yet. So I would not want to talk about it.
You are touted as one of the smart investors in Telugu film circles?
I never planned anything. If I buy some land it was for myself. Not because I wanted to do business out of it. Somewhere stars are working for me.
Which film would you like to remake if you had a choice?
What is the reason for not doing Shiva 2006?
There is no resemblance to Shiva and Shiva 2006. Shiva was college student and Shiva 2006 is a cop. Ram Gopal Varma used the emotions of Shiva. He has all rights to do it since it is his baby. After Shiva many directors tried making films like Shiva. Ramu is recreating his own film.
You seem to be looking hotter and younger with each year passing. What is your secret?
May be I am like wine. (giggles). I am very conscious about the way I look. It pays off. I take life as it comes, but I don’t take health like that. Health is something I work very hard on it. May be that is because I am very happy with the way I am. If you are happy, it even shows on your skin.
What is the reason behind not doing Bollywood films these days?
I am not interested in Bollywood films now. I don’t believing putting one foot here and other foot in Bollywood. Ram Gopal Varma asked me to shift to Mumbai when he migrated to Mumbai. I was not interested. I am getting offers from Bollywood.
Bollywood magazines seem to be writing some gossip on you?
That is because I am popular. It is good. For everybody it is a survival problem. Journalists should sensationalize a story to sell their copies.
Who are the other heroines in this film apart from Nayana Tara and Poonam Bajwa in Boss?
Nayana Tara is doing heroine. Poonam Bajwa is doing an important character and she is not the heroine. Shriya did a small scene (a fleeting glimpse). Shriya did not do any song in Boss. Saloni is doing one song.
Why should audience come to theater and watch Boss?
For entertainment that is worth value for your money. Boss is going to be a paisa vasool film.
Out of your last four films, three bear English titles (Mass, Super & Boss). Is it just a coincidence?
Mass, Super and Boss are integrated into our Telugu colloquial language. Even you don’t restrain from using the word ‘mass’. how many times did I see you mentioning the word mass in idlebrain.com. Go to Rajahmundry and Anakapally and see how many people stay away from using the word Super.
Do you think Nagarjuna has come to a stage of being complete actor with so much of wide verities of films in your kitty?
Actor grows day by day and he gets better with every character.
With multiplexes coming in AP, do you accept small budget films with unique story value from new directors?
Right now we have only 2 multiplexes. Let there be another 50 multiplexes in the state. Then I will think about it.
Do you have any plans to building a multiplex?
That is a different game altogether. Multiplex is all about hospitality.
Do you have any plans of directing films?
No. You need to have an aptitude to direct a film. Direction is all about dealing with 24 crafts. If I do something I have to do it with my heart. I am not interested in certain departments. A director needs to know about people management and it does not gel well with me.
When an important decision to be made about a scene or shot in a film. Is it your call or director’s call?
It is a team work. All my hits happened because we worked together as a team.
What is your involvement in music?
It depends on the producer and the director. For Sri Ramadasu and Boss I was not involved it the music. For a film like Mass, Lawrence made me hear the tunes before okaying them.
Is there any significant difference when you did not like the song, but was put into the film?
There is one song in Chandralekha which I insisted that it should not be there. But Krishna Vamsi convinced me that it should be there. We shot that song and kept in the film. But that song was removed by exhibitors with in week after the release. It was a hot song with Ramya Krishna. I resisted saying that it disturbs the mood of the film. But Krishna Vamsi believed that masses need it.
Did you like that film?
Yes I liked Chandralekha. It is one of the films I liked, but did not do well at box office.
Why didn’t it work at box office?
I got entertained and the director got entertained. But audience did not get entertained. From day one, people hated that film.
Are there any films which you did not like, but went on to become big hits?
At the same time, I did not like Gharana Bullodu film. But it went on to become a big hit.
Do your films cater to your own taste or people’s taste?
I would like to have a balance. But in general I would do films that cater to the tastes of people. If I had to do films that cater to my personal taste, I would have to do a low budget film when we have 50 multiplexes in AP. (giggles)
Your Manmadhudu kurti has become a huge fad in youth. What is Boss going to offer?
The Boss wear is going to be trendy shirts and pants. I used business suit only in a couple of scenes where I attend business meetings. Asmita did costumes for most of Boss film.
You seem to be taking very good care of Boss publicity. The stills that came out are excellent?
Because I realized that we should not release all the stills. We have certain idea about what to reveal and what to hide. There are action sequences in Boss. If we release those stills, people would think that Boss is an action film. Somewhere I believe, people are looking at photographs and trailers to decide whether to go to a movie or not. I told my designer to design stills just the way he designed posters.
What is the reason behind doing a film with VN Aditya again?
Producer is very happy with the director. If the producer and the director have an understanding, half of the problems are solved. I blindly trust the judgment of Siva Prasad Reddy. VN Aditya directed Nenunnanu which is one of my biggest grossers with fantastic music. I don’t need any more reasons to repeat Aditya.
Tell us about Boss music?
Boss is a very romantic film and we need romantic melodies for this film. Kalyani Malik is related to and worked for Keeravani. So automatically it will come. You will know how it is on 3rd September.
You are also a boss in your studio? How different are you compared to the on-screen boss?
On the screen, I would be exactly the way I am in real life. I drive people to work hard. I don’t tolerate mistakes. You may do mistakes once. But not the second time. But at the same time, I take a very good care of them.
What is your opinion about hike of ticket fares?
It is good that producer and the government are making money over hiked ticket prices instead of black marketer. Film is commodity which depends on supply demand chain. This system has been in place in other states like Tamil Nadu, Maha Rashtra etc for a long time. Andhra Pradesh government has recently given permission.
When is Boss releasing?
We have not taken a decision yet. Producer is going to fix a date after discussing with distributors.
Nayana Tara seems to have shed some weight. Is it because that she should match you on screen?
I should appreciate her professionalism. She has to look good on screen and our pair should have on screen chemistry.
You and Sumanth did summer films Sri Ramadasu and Godavari that promote Telugu language and culture?
It is very good. Doing Sri Ramadasu was one fantastic experience for me. My Telugu too improved a lot with Sri Ramadasu film.
In the era of globalization, English is going to be one common language of the world. Even Chinese and French people started accepting English. At the same time we should also try to protect our mother tongue.
What is your next project?
I am going to do in the direction of Lawrence. If everything goes alright, that film will be launched in December.
What is the title of the film? Don?
It is not decided yet.
Is there a project with Sekhar Kammula soon?
Yes. He has some subject for me. I have not listened to the subject yet. He is going to narrate me the subject in September. I saw Godavari film and liked it. Godavari reminded me of Geetanjali kind of filmmaking.
Sharrath Marar (Producer)
Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
K Satish (Director)
Siva Nageswara Rao (Director)
Ajay Varma (Hero)
Kamalinee Kukherjee (Heroine)
Sriya Reddy (Heroine)
Muruga Doss (Director)
Uday Kiran (Hero)
T Gopichand (Hero)
Kalyan Ram Nandamuri (Hero)
Siva Kumar (Director)
Rasool Ellore (Cinematographer & Director)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)