If there is one thing that sets apart Nani from others, it is his calm demeanour and chilled out attitude. Since the time he made his debut with Ashta Chemma, Nani has always been the same – passionate about work, willingness to explore different genres and a strong desire to prove his acting acumen with his every film. Come Friday, the ‘Natural Star’ is waiting with great excitement to see the audience response for his sports drama, Jersey.
Excerpts from the interview
There have been reports that Jersey is the biopic of late cricketer Raman Lamba...
I have come across these reports, but there is no truth in it. Jersey is a fictional sports drama replete with emotion, entertainment and family sentiment. Director Gowtam Tinnanuri narrated me a story that had no similarities to any other films. The script is so novel that I had goosebumps during the narration and agreed to it instantly. Above all, I saw honesty in Gowtam’s body language and was equally surprised to see how he has woven a story that shows the depths of human emotions.
It seems Arjun was one of the roles that require a lot of preparation...
I have undergone extensive cricket training with Daniel (of Daniel’s Cricket Academy). He visited the sets and helped me with the game. As a kid, I remember playing gully cricket and was the 12th man in my school team. I used to get an opportunity only if some other batsman got injured. I was always under an impression that cricket is about hitting the ball and once I started working for Jersey, I realised what the game is all about and lost some weight too (laughs).
Looks like the film revolves around a complicated relationship...
I believe you are referring to Arjun and Sarah’s characters. They share a great bond and beyond that, the film also delves into the father-son relationship. Every father wants to be his son’s hero and that point is going to be this film’s mainstay. I’m sure the audience will connect to it emotionally. There are scenes which will make you laugh, shed tears of joy and I’m sure you’ll come out (of the theatre) with excitement. The film gave me immense satisfaction as an actor. I was so emotionally attached to my character that during the last day of the shoot, I felt like bidding a tearful farewell to my loved one. Honestly, I identify Jersey as my best work to date. That way, the film is close to my heart and we are also making efforts to release Jersey in China as Bollywood sports movies have performed exceptionally well at the Chinese box office.
Do you choose your scripts differently because you are already an established actor?
As an actor, I’m willing to venture into different genres. People draw different theories when you explore different stories. I don’t sign a film on the basis of its genre. I always see how the director turns a script into a beautiful two-hour film. I will do films only if I’m pleased with the script. I never had any pre-conceived notion. There were times when I struggled to deliver a hit. Then came some eight-nine hits. I don’t harp on the outcome of a film and have realised that it’s part of an actor’s life-cycle. I didn’t let success or failure dictate my happiness.
Criticism or compliments: which one do you take seriously?
Compliments flow in like a breeze. There were times when I used to feel bad if I came across a negative article about me. I remember a media house calling me a ‘headstrong actor’. If we give too much thought about such stuff and ever pay heed to those unwanted comments, we can’t survive in the showbiz and lose focus on our work.
Your next film, Gang Leader is in the middle of a movie-title controversy...
I have got to know through social media that there is some opposition from some filmmakers regarding our film title. We felt Gang Leader is an appropriate title for our film. If anyone has an objection and feels that it is not apt for our film, we don’t mind changing it. I believe there is no controversy whatsoever regarding Gang Leader and I perceive there is only some noise on social media.
— Murali Krishna CH