With three major hits in three consecutive years, Tollywood’s Young Tiger Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Junior (NTR Jr) has emerged as one of the leading actors in contemporary Telugu cinema. After commercial successes like Ramayya Vastavayya (2013), Rabhasa (2014) and Temper (2015), the actor deviated from the run-of-the-mill films with Sukumar’s emotional entertainer Nannaku Prematho, which released this Sankranti.
“The film is about a father-son relationship. It’s a highly emotional film and is about a man who can do anything for his father. Shown in a span of 30 days, it is fast-paced and heart-wrenching,” the actor says.
Apart from being an emotionally charged film, Nannaku Prematho was struck by personal tragedy to the cast and crew of the film. Director Sukumar decided to do the film after the death of his father in 2014. Also, just a month before the film’s release, composer Devi Sri Prasad lost his father. NTR says all these real-life incidents had a massive impact on him, which is shown in the film. “After a few scenes, I wept off-screen, such were the emotions involved in it. After one scene, I missed my father terribly and I called him up straight away. After listening to me, my dad told me not to get too involved with films and to keep his personal life separate from it,” NTR recalls.
The young actor, however, says he did not follow his father’s advice. “Somehow, I just cannot do it (detach myself). Whenever I do a role, I get completely involved with the character and my real feelings pour into it,” says NTR Jr.
When asked if that was the case for romantic sequences too, the actor bursts out laughing and says, “Romance is one thing that I cannot do. I can sing, dance and fight, but I just cannot romance on-screen.”
Sukumar has often been criticised for making complicated films that leave the audience confused. Defending his director, NTR says, “I don’t understand that criticism. I’ve always felt Sukku (Sukumar) had tremendous clarity about the film right from the start. He is extremely intelligent and knows what he wants from the audience.”
NTR was not the only big actor on show during the festive Sankranti period, as he clashed with other stars, including his uncle Nandamuri Balakrishna, whose film Dictator releases on January 14, Akkineni Nagarjuna’s Soggade Chinni Nayana and Express Raja, starring Sharwanand. “Why not?” quips the actor, when asked about the clash. “The movie business is changing and it is just not about breaking even. There is no reason why multiple films releasing at the same time cannot do well,” he says, with assured practicality.
NTR’s rivalry with uncle Balakrishna has been a heavily discussed topic and was being touted as the ‘Clash of the Nandamuris’. Downplaying it, the actor says, “There is no clash. I want Babai’s (Balakrishna) film to do well, I want Soggade Chinni Nayana to do well and I want Express Raja to do well. I have no issues with anybody and I think playing up such ‘clashes’ are unnecessary.”
After Nannaku Prematho, the actor will be seen in Janata Garage with director Koratala Siva (of Srimanthudu fame).
“I will be taking a break after this release and then start working on Janata Garage. We are yet to finalise cast for the film and pre-production is going,” says the actor.