‘It was a calculated decision to stay away from rom-coms’

... says Nani, as he and Nazriya discuss what went into making their upcoming film, Ante Sundaraniki.
Actress Nazriya Nazim. (File Photo)
Actress Nazriya Nazim. (File Photo)

From when Vivek Athreya’s Ante Sundaraniki was announced, what has been quite striking about all the promotional materials of the film is the humour. Even the recently released trailer showed evidence of this humour and also the film’s intention to incite thought. The film, which Nani says is “a little more than a rom-com” marks Nazriya’s debut in Telugu and marks Nani’s return to a space that he has traditionally excelled in: romantic comedy. Comedy seems to come naturally to this actor, and with Nazriya, who has proven her comic timing in many films in her career, the film seems set to entertain.

Among the film’s many funny promotions included a quirky release date poster with multiple release dates — a gentle dig at all the films that were postponing their release dates on account of the pandemic. “That was my idea!” says Nani, smiling. “Our poster has been turned into a meme and has put an end to the trend of multiple release dates being announced for projects.” For Nazriya, the film is special for many reasons. She says she found a script she could not say no to. “When I like a script, I don’t really pay much attention to which language it belongs to. If it excites me enough, I don’t mind learning a new language.

I loved the script of Ante. I was troubled about not knowing Telugu, yes, but I experienced this when I made my debut in Tamil as well,” Nazriya notes and moves on to her camaraderie with Nani. “He is so much like me. All the actors that I have worked with have been great, but Nani has been the most relatable for me. I have known him for a year now, but I feel like I have known him longer.

He is like family now.”Nani is glad that the film has turned out to exceed the promise of the narration. “In making a film, about 20-30 percent of the original script sometimes gets lost, but here, all the departments have come together to realise the original vision and we are very happy with the output. I think we have made a film I would like to take my family to, and I’m positive that the theatres will see a lot of happy faces.”

Romantic comedies are Nani’s forte, even if he has stayed away from the genre for a while. “It is a conscious decision to move away from whatever I did before. I have made some choices based on the options that have come to me; I’m also constantly trying to find something I love. I am fortunate to have been approached with films of many different genres. I loved Shyam (Shyam Singha Roy), and the same goes for Ante... and Dasara. All these films bear no similarities.”

The trailer suggests a conflict between the main characters, Sundar and Leela (Nani and Nazriya), on account of their different faith systems. Nani says, “There are two conflicts, and we don’t want to spoil the second one for the audiences. The film is not only about Leela and Sundar, with other characters getting important roles to play as well. The supporting cast in the film — Rohini, Nadhiya, Azhagam Perumal, Harsha Vardhan, and Naresh — have all given fantastic performances.”

He explains that the film is much more than interfaith romance. “A lot of what we have attempted to address in the film is subtle but effective. We speak of empowerment, religion, and more. Throughout the film, there are many other sensible ideas discussed too.”

Ante Sundaraniki is slated to hit screens this Friday, with the film to release across languages like Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. Might one attach that fashionable pan-Indian label to this film?
“I believe that this label is given by the audience, not by filmmakers. Any film that creates a buzz across the country, would be pan-Indian, in my opinion. It’s not just about having a film release in multiple languages.”

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