Q & A with Nani
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12 September 2019

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J: Is Jersey the most satisfying film for you?
N: It is. As an actor it is completely and I know that it will be relevant even 15-20 years down the lane. A lot of films become outdated within a year or two, even when it comes on TV.

J: Jersey is set 15 years ago and it works now.
N: Yes, it works now and it should work 15 years from now also.

J: You are known as being the entertainer, the boy-next-door, from that you moved to a film with a slightly darker shade who's a father. Why the sudden shift with Jersey?
N: It's not a sudden shift actually. I've always been mixing things up but this shift registered more with everyone. After Gentleman I did a very soft love story like Majnu, then I did a very arrogant role in Nenu Local. Then came Ninnu Kori which is about a failed love story where he's forced to move on; after that was MCA which is completely commercial. So I've been doing a lot of shifts but with Jersey it registered with everyone because the content is so strong.

J: Jersey’s role also a very mature role.
N: Yes because it had that strength in the story. The other films were in a more entertaining style but this was a totally realistic film. And it came to me. I'm always looking for new content. When I'm doing so many films back to back I need to make sure. Take Evade Subramaniam for example, even that was a very good film but there is a big difference between it's reach and Jersey's reach. All the films like MCA and Nenu Local took Jersey to the next level. When we do commercial films people say why don't you do meaningful films but we need to do those to take a film like Jersey to a larger audience. When scripts come to me I always look for something new but on that point we shouldn't bore people with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

J: So coming to Gang Leader director Vikram K Kumar, he's terrific with love stories who's made films like Ishq, superb with screenplay. He's well known for dealing with complex stories like Chandamama katha. These are the 3 things we know about him so far. Which of these is seen in which percentages in this film?
N: Actually all 3 are less. I was reading it somewhere, someone wrote Gangleader's plot point is out and that Karthikeeya isn't the villain but Nani is and Nani is playing a double role. I realised these sort of expectations are there because it's Vikram Kumar making the film. This must be one of his most simplest, least confusing film with a simple, straight narrative. What people think when they watch the promos is how it will be but how it unfolds is fun!

J: There's another about C/O Kancherpalam where they think that all the female characters in Gang Leader are one because there's a dialogue that says it's like watching the lifecycle of a woman.
N: Ooooh! Is that what they've decided. *Laughs* There are N number of guesses. Something else also I've heard - that all these women are characters in the story I've written and don't really exist. There's nothing like that. It's a simple film where 5 women are affected by something and they want revenge so they go to a revenge writer. What's happens then is the film.

J: On a personal level you were an AD and wrote things before venturing into acting as a hero. So how personally connected were you to this film?
N: Not even 1% because pencil character is a fraud and he copies stories from Hollywood films. There were times when I wrote stories and narrated before becoming an actor. But I am noway connected to Pencil character at personal level. Once you see the first scene of me itself you'll know, that's the genre of the film. That's how Vikram created it also and no one will personally connect to Pencil but you might enjoy watching everything he does on screen.

J: Gang Leader title is viewed by some, especially Chiranjeevi fans as a legendary title so what's your take on it?
N: They have every right to feel that way and I have every right to go with the title that goes with the film. It suited the film and I'm also a fan and we all loved the film.

J: And if you give a good film, it's a tribute.
N: Yes, and we had Chiranjeevi garus acceptance. He even messaged me, 'dear Nani best wishes for Gangleader.' Imagine getting wishes from Gangleader himself! So there is no issue at all but if some people feel that way they have every right to and I hope that I'll justify the title and I hope the film lives up to the title.

J: Just imagine some unknown person makes Gang Leader, people wouldn’t mind.
N: Yes, they wouldn’t come to know about it even.

J: You are the right person if it is done in the right way
N: And we are not remaking it, it’s clearly a fun film which is not in the same genre. There’s no connection between the 2. But also the fan in me gave a small tribute in the film which I think people should be very happy when they see the film.

J: It’s not revealed in the poster?
N: That’s the tribute shot but there’s a dialogue also

J: Why do you always have new actresses in your films?
N: I’ve realised the process of filmmaking has become an addiction for me. If I get a day’s break I won’t know what to do. I’ll eat and put on weight. I’d do everything that’s not good for me if I get 10 days of break. But I’m completely disciplined, enjoying every day actively during the shooting time, post production. So the way I’m doing so many films back-to-back is because the format has been set. While I’m shooting a film, the next one’s pre-production is done, then I immediately join that film. There’s never a break. This format is really great because I get to say hi to you guys every 4-5 months. I love being part of multiple stories. And every film gives me such a nice high. In this format if I need to successfully have to go through I can’t have dates issues. 100% I’m also for introducing new talent but there’s times I think it might be good to go with someone well-known who would suit but it just doesn’t fall in place.

J: It’ll be hard to make films quickly because of dates issues
N: And I’d need the dates in a chunk. Known heroines will be doing multiple films so I don’t want that hassle and also the satisfaction that we are introducing someone good to the industry. And everyone’s done well so thats a satisfaction

J: So there are 5 female characters
N: Lakshmi garu, Priyanka garu, Priyanka, Prananya, Shriya.

J: Who’s the best character other than heroine.
N: Pencil’s crush is the heroine. Every character is important but he has a special space for the little one.

J: What can you reveal about the film without revealing the plot point?
N: I think like I said, what I’ve revealed already. It’s none of the stories that people are thinking outside. It’s a straight script and what is interesting about the film is that the fact that a revenge element, the incident and the antagonist are both serious issues but these 5 women meeting Pencil and the fun that comes of it is a combination we don’t usually get to see. I can say that Vennela Kishore is doing a superb role. But can’t reveal about his character now.

J: The director Vikram is more like an enigma due to his lack of personal interactions but for the first time you’ve shown his fun side in the making video
N: Vikram is a like a small kid

J: By looking at his photos you’ll think he’s the serious type, even looking at his films
N: If you ever get a chance, you have to listen to his narration. I think he’s the best narrator. He’ll cry for an emotional scene, he’ll perform the comedy scenes. He gets so involved in the story that he becomes a sort of Disney character. I told Vikram that if he puts a camera and narrates a story in front of it and releases it as a film, that will run. Sometimes what he makes won’t be as good as his narration. When we released the making video, there’s no shots of him crying.

J: There’s a thumbs up too
N: Ya the Super! There’s very less of those. Imagine before every shot, if Lakshmi garu is in shot, any other director will say ready, sound, action but Vikram will say, ‘Lakshmi ma’am you are looking beautiful ma’am’ and then says action. He has that positive energy which spreads to the team. There wasn’t a feeling of working, it went very happily.

J: Is this the highest budget
N: More of a remuneration wise it might be the biggest film

J: Not production wise?
N: Production wise also yes, there was the Delhi race course. When you are watching the film it’s our house but that house is a set so there’s a lot of expenditure there. I don’t know if you’ll look at it and think it’s a costly film or what. It doesn’t look like an expensive film but there is a lot of expenditure

J: You’ve had so many million dollar films in USA. We’ve lost count. Gang Leader is more of an overseas oriented film. A class film
N: It’s an entertainer. There’s no expectations. This whole million thing is a big deal. Sometimes the managers are like oh no it’s stopped at 900, would’ve been good if it reached a million. But I don’t understand what the big deal is in getting the round figure. My expectation is that first of all if they say it’s a good film then I’m happy. I’m not expecting anything in terms of numbers but I’m just hoping people will enjoy. These days everyone is talking about numbers a lot. If everyone is talking about numbers, if we all become so conscious about numbers then I don’t know if we’ll be able to..

J: Putting pressure?
N: Putting pressure on the actors, on the producers, on everyone. And then while making content films. Imagine if another film like Jersey comes, we were lucky enough to pull it off commercially also but if a script like that comes and numbers become so important than the chances of a film like Jersey being made will go down

J: Action oriented films you’ve tried for a while?
N: I never did actually but every time I did it worked but I never stuck to it

J: That’s the reason you don’t have pressure?
N: The reason I don’t have pressure is because I’ve already passed the message that I might be a little unpredictable. I might suddenly come with Jersey. There was Jandapai Kapiraju and then Evade Subramaniam so there’s always. How do writers come to us? If some writer thinks I won’t do these kind of films and don’t come to me then I’m at a big loss. I need to drive a message to everyone that Nani might do anything if he likes it. I think that I’ve made clear and I’m happy with that. I thought how would it be to do a complete commercial film and did MCA with the complete commercial beat. That worked big time. But just because it worked I didn’t do it again. Because Jersey worked I won’t do another Jersey again back-to-back. Gangleader is unique in its own way. With Mohan Krishna gari V, I don’t know if you’ll call me a hero or villain so each film to its own

J: What is V all about?
N: It is a very special film. You’ll get a script that you won’t expect from me or Mohan Krishna garu. I said while we were shooting the other day that this scene might be too unexpected for us. He said even I didn’t know, I’m coming to know while making it.

J: So what is next?
N: There are a couple of things in the pipeline but we haven’t fixed but that’ll also be done in a couple of months

Q & As:
Adivi Sesh (Evaru)

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