‘I crave to do a film about lost kingdoms, kings in exiles and ethereal princesses,’ Nagarjuna, who turns 64 on August 29, tells Subhash K Jha.
I have known Nagarjuna for 25 years, maybe more.
He is never one to beat around the bush.
He is most happy being one of the living legends of Telugu cinema.
He did not craved for success in Bollywood even though his earlier Hindi films Zakhm and Khuda Gawah did well.
Nagarjuna’s 64th birthday on August 29 is a working birthday and he’s happy to be getting roles that satisfy his craving for challenges.
“I am lucky to be still working as a leading man at a time when both my sons have joined the film industry,” he tells me.
“In the second half of my career, I want to make sure every move and movie makes me happy as an artiste. At the same time, I want my audiences’ approval for what I do.
“So enough of those conventional romantic roles for me. I can’t be running around trees with my co-stars anymore.
“I have two sons who are now leading men in Telugu cinema, working with the same heroines I am working with. I am guiding them, but I don’t thrust my opinion on them.
“They are free to do what they like. I can only advise them.
“I don’t want them to be like me. I just want them to imbibe the good things from my life and ignore the rest.”
Nag has been married to Amala for 30 years now, and he says they are still as much in love as they used to be.
“I suppose it is the Hyderabad climate that makes us so romantic,” he says. “Look at Mahesh Babu and Namrata (Shirodkar), still so much in love.
“I am blessed to have her (Amala) as my soul mate. I must have done something good in my life to have her.”
Nag thinks this is a transitional phase for Telugu cinema.
“Run-of-the-mill films won’t work. A new phase has started in Telugu cinema. It’s a very exciting time to be an actor.
“I am looking at quite a few scripts. I want to keep trying something new all the time.
“I’ve to be happy with the work I am doing. The role has to be challenging, and for that, it has to be something I haven’t done before.”
Nag made a comeback to Hindi films last year with Karan Johar’s sci-fi production, Brahmastra.
The actor sounds surprised at being offered a major Hindi film at this stage of his career.
“My career in Andhra keeps me busy. I have not shown any inclination to do a Hindi film though I’m open to doing films in any language if the set-up is good. Brahmastra was impressive from the moment it came to me and I said yes immediately,” he says.
Nag remains a famished actor.
“I still hunger for great roles. I wish Rajamouli had asked me to do a role in Baahubali. I always wanted to do a lavish costume drama or a period film. I’ve never done one of these. I crave to do a film about lost kingdoms, kings in exiles and ethereal princesses.
“Even in Hollywood, I love costume dramas like Troy and 300.
“I see period films like these whenever I am bored. I am very unhappy that when we made our own Hollywood-styled spectacle, I was not in it. Rajamouli should have cast me.”
Why did he distance himself from Hindi cinema?
“I didn’t distance myself from Hindi cinema. It’s just that I was so content in Telugu cinema. By God’s grace, my career graph always showed an upswing. I was very content with what I had in Andhra. Fans in Andhra love my father, me and my sons unconditionally. But I am very proud of my Hindi films” he says.
Nag’s favourite film from his own repertoire is the film he did with his father: Manam.
“It made me feel worthwhile. My father (the legendary Akkineni Nageshwara Rao) wanted to die with his boots on. He collapsed on the sets while doing a song. We had to carry him out of the sets.”
“That’s the way I would like to go.”
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com
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