One moment, he can make us play the age-old Asta Chamma and in a jiffy, he can take us to the Himalayas. He elevated the status of the house fly and also made us embrace our memory-loss. Nani, the ‘Natural Star’ and the self-made actor who has enchanted us with his witty comedy and realistic heroic roles, is all set to make us bite our nails with his next flick Gentleman. In an exclusive tete- e-tete, he speaks about his movies, memories and moments.
Gentleman on Gentleman
I am working with Indraganti Mohan Krishna, the man who introduced me to Telugu audiences with Asta Chamma. after seven years and hence this is special. I always wanted to play a grey role - one that treads on the thin line between negative and positive - thus it was instant yes to the script. This has been the toughest role so far, for I had to remember my previous scene to involve in the current one and also keep in mind the future scenes. There was a scene in the pre-climax with a a close up shot and the most important block of the film. I was nervous but after the shot, everyone on the set clapped and my director hugged me tight. I can never forget that moment.
Keeping up the excitement
I never invite any of my family members to the sets as I feel it kills the excitement and ups their expectations. I take my entire family and friends to the movie on the day of release, so that the excitement and interest is intact. Anjana gives me an honest feedback each time.
I hail from a middle class family. Those days, the only source of entertainment was movies.Movies became a part of me and I wanted to do nothing but movies. I was weak at academics too. My parents were subtly supportive of my choice. I didn’t have any god father from the industry. I joined Bapu garu as a clap director. During the shot, there was an instance where I clapped and stood in the frame itself. Bapu garu quipped: “You can act in my next film.” I didn’t understand and then I realised I was sitting in the frame.
I grew worshipping Kamal Hassan and Mani Ratnam. I was shooting for Aaha Kalyanam in Bollini Hills and Vishwaroopam 2 was also being shot in the vicinity. My friend and cameraman Shyam Dutt was working for that movie and told me about Kamal sir on the sets. When Shyam was about to introduce me to him, I was sure he wouldn’t recognise me. I didn’t want to feel embarrassed and to my surprise, even before Shyam could introduce me, Kamal sir called out, “Nani, how are you!” I was zapped that a legend like him knows me. I couldn’t have asked more as a fan. He introduced me to Pooja Kumar and others on the sets.
On the day of release of Ashta Chamma, my co-star Srinivas (Avasarala) and I went to Brahmaramba theatre in Kukatpally to watch the show. I was taken aback that there were no vehicles parked near the theatre and assumed the theatre playing my movie was empty. I thought I made a fool out of myself. I went inside and could hear the huge crowd laughing right at the stairs. I was surprised to see 85 percent of the seats occupied. They laughed hard and end of the show, they recognised me and appreciated. I can never forget this moment.
Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Katha was an emotional journey as I shot with kids and I got emotionally attached to them. Even now, the little girl and others keep in touch with me and send me voice notes and pictures. Recently the little girl sent me a video where she imitated a scene from Gentleman trailer.
Path breaking Eega
Eega made me a household name. We were shooting for Paisa in Dubai. Early morning, we went to the desert as our land cruisers were waiting. The security guard looked at me and said, “Aap Jani hai na?’ I replied ‘No, I am Nani.” He again said, “Nahi, aap Jani hai. Maine aapko Makkhi movie mein dekha tha!’ That’s when I realised Nani was Jani in the Hindi version. That film got me closer to every family’s heart.
What the star misses
Roadside Chinese noodles, walking on Necklace Road with music on, sit on a bench and enjoy the rain. Every Saturday, I used to frequent dhabas on Medchal road with my freinds. Now, it’s not the same anymore.
Vacation at Seven hills
From my childhood, we have a tradition of visiting Tirupati every year. Sitting in the train, playing with each other, eating all the food and most of the family bonding would happen in the trip. I cherish it and thus every year, I make it a point to go there with my entire family even today. I prefer going by train than flight, as I get to spend those moments all over again.
I studied in a residential school when I was in Class VIII . We were a group of boys who wanted to watch a late night show. We had jumped the wall, walked through the fields. When we reached the theatre, there was movie called Deyyam, directed by RGV. After watching the movie, I was petrified to walk through the fields. I wanted to get inside through the main gate. They were worried that I would reveal their names too if I get caught at the main gate. But I did, I was caught by the principal, my parents were called. I had surrendered but never revealed their names.
Niru, a girl who follows me on Twitter, keeps posting all the articles about me and my pictures. She sticks the paper cutting on a scrap book and posts those pictures. I feel extremely happy when I see her posts. Once, I had thanked her and her happiness knew no boundaries.
Promise to fans
i promise no parent or grandparent will feel embarrassed to watch my movie or close the eyes and ears of their children during the movie.
Rapid Fire on favourites
Colour: White - As a child, every heroine in white looked like an angel to me
Food: Mom’s classic chicken curry and my wife Anjana’s culinary experiments
Co-stars: Srinivas Avasarala and Saranya Mohan
Clothing Brand: Zara, Jack and Jones