Naga Chaitanya is on a career high with a new release, Love Story around the corner, and a movie with his legendary father, Nagarjuna in the pipeline. He also has shared screen space with Aamir Khan in another upcoming film, Laal Singh Chadha. The South superstar speaks to Subhash K Jha about all this, and his personal life too.
Q: Aamir Khan had some wonderful things to say about you on stage in Hyderabad?
A: It was truly an unforgettable gesture. He didn’t have to be there and he didn’t have to say the things that he did. It was totally unexpected. Aamir sir saw the trailer of my new film Love Story and he said he wanted to be there to support the team. Having him there at the event was magical! He is too kind a person. The amount of warmth I received from him during the shooting of Laal Singh Chaddha is very difficult to put into words.
Q: Well, he has worked with a lot of actors in his time. But I haven’t heard him shower so much praise on anyone, so I guess this says more about you than he?
A: That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you for that.
Q: What was it like shooting with Aamir Khan for Laal Singh Chaddha in Ladakh?
A: It’s my debut in Hindi. And I’m so glad it happened with Aamir sir. It all happened very organically. I first got a call from his office. Then in the night Aamir sir spoke to me over a video call. I flew to Mumbai and spoke some lines in front of him.Then the dates went all haywire because of the pandemic. We were supposed to shoot in Turkey. But that didn’t happen. We ended up shooting in Kargil. Fortunately everything fell into place eventually.
Q: Do you speak you own lines in Hindi in Laal Singh Chaddha?
A: Yes , I do, although my Hindi is not all that good. But I play a South Indian character and they wanted an accent. So they left my Hindi the way it is. I had almost six months to work on my Hindi dialogues.The director sat with me and we worked on my dialogues. It is not easy to emote in a language you don’t think in. The process took time. But finally I owned the dialogues.
Q: Your last release was Venky Mama with your uncle Venkatesh. Did you choose a comedy to get over the intense roles you have been doing?
A: Yes, it was a break. Although let me add I like doing intense films. Real human relationships are my forte. More than the comedy, working with my uncle was on my bucket list. He is great with comedy and family dramas. It was a no-brainer that I’d do a comedy or a family film with him. Doing comedy, let me tell you, was the most challenging thing. It is the most difficult genre to do. Very interestingly when you see a comedy with the audience in the theatre, you hear them laughing at moments which you never thought to be funny.
Q: Is a sequel to Venky Mama on the cards?
A: No no. But a sequel to my father’s superhit film Soggade Chinni Nayana is happening. It’s called Bangaraju and it will co-star my father and I. The plot is slightly modified from the original. A role for me has been stitched and then there’s some action too. It’s going to be a commercial entertainer.
Q: Is loud acting difficult for you?
A: While I prefer a more lowkey style of acting,my uncle and father belong to a different school of acting. They belong to that larger-than-life school of cinema for which I have to rearrange my acting chops. People think commercial cinema is easy to do. But I think it’s very difficult to attempt anything in the larger-than-life genre.
Q: So is your new release Love Story a larger-than-life love story?
A: No, it’s very much in the realistic space. Sai Pallavi and I play a working class couple struggling to realize our dreams. The film touches on the sensitive issues of caste system and gender discrimination. It deals with real-world problems. I play an underprivileged guy new to the city trying to find his bearings. It required a whole lot of preparation from me.It was a completely alien world for me. Also, I speak my dialogues in the Telangana dialect for the first time. So far all my films have been in the Andhra dialect.The director Sekhar Kammula took me through my character months before shooting.I watched a lot of reference films like the Marathi film Sairat. This is the most challenging role of my career.
Q: So far. You’ve just started?
A: Thank you for saying that. It makes me feel happy about the progress I’ve made.
Q: Sai Pallavi, your co-star?
A: God, don’t even ask! Very patient, very human, very real, very kind. She definitely complemented me on screen.
Q: Finally I hope everything works out well in your personal life. You deserve only happiness?
A: Thank you, sir. Thank you for understanding.
Image source: Instagram/akkineni__nagarjuna/IMDb