At the movies

Nagarjuna : I like to be a Star

Later this month, Akkineni Nagarjuna will turn 60. But if there is one thing that can be said about him is that he has maintained himself well and he certainly looks much younger than his age. Which is probably one reason Nagarjuna is still playing the lover boy in `Manmadhudu 2′ that releases next Friday.

The role is of an older man falling in love with a younger woman and people, the actor-producer believes, will love the characters in the movie. It is a adaptation of a French film `Prete-Moi Ta Main’. 

T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Nagarjuna about the movie, about trolls, about how he selects his scripts and about what stardom means to him. 

Sudhir : You are all set to hit the big screen with Manmadhudu 2 that you say is not a sequel to Manmadhudu that released in 2002.  

Nagarjuna : Yes, it is not a sequel. In fact, I have been sitting with the rights to remake French film `Prete-Moi Ta Main’ for one and a half years. It is a love story. The French film is a beautiful entertainer. 

Sudhir : It is not a typical love story as in there is an age gap between the lead pair. You are playing the role of an older man. 

Nagarjuna : I am older than I look. (Laughs). Let me be vain about it. But ya, it is the story of an older man who falls in love with a younger woman. 

Sudhir : But while deciding to do the role, was there any hesitation or concern how would my fans react to it?

Nagarjuna : Is it wrong? Morally, I am asking you, is it wrong? It is up to the man and the woman to make the choice. An older man with a younger woman or an older woman with a younger man. It is happening all over the world. It is for them to be happy in that relationship. 

Sudhir : When the trailer was released, there was trolling on social media about the kissing scenes and whether Nagarjuna for the body of work he has behind him, should be doing this.

Nagarjuna : I do not look at trolls. I am off the social network in the sense that if I have something to say, I say it and exit. I cannot let everyone into my house that they can come and say anything they like. No. If anyone has anything to say, let them say it on my face, interact with me. I am not going to listen to anonymous accounts, you don’t even know if the person trolling you is a man, woman or a kid. 

Sudhir : How do you choose your scripts now, 33 years after you made your debut as lead actor. One does not see you experimenting with roles that have shades of grey.

Nagarjuna : No, no I am a very mainstream commercial hero. I like the larger-than-life movies. I do not like reality unless it is a biopic. When I go to the theatre, I want to feel uplifted, elated. 

Sudhir : But while you have stuck to these larger-than-life roles, you have been experimental with your directors. Be it Ram Gopal Varma way back with Shiva or now with Rahul Ravindran with Manmadhudu 2. How does that work?

Nagarjuna : I get ticked by their newer ideas. For me filmmaking is not just about signing cheques. It is about getting absolutely charged up about a project. 

Sudhir : And in today’s day and age of social media, digital marketing, it is even more tough to get the audience in, since it is more discerning as well. Has your approach to filmmaking changed as a result?

Nagarjuna : Oh yes, the attention span of the audience is less so it is a challenge to engage the captive audience. You need the right content and the right treatment to keep them hooked. 

Sudhir : Are there films you see and wish you had done them? 

Nagarjuna : (laughs) So many of them. 

Sudhir : What does stardom mean to you? 

Nagarjuna : Stardom gives you the perks though at the same time, it takes away your freedom from you. People give you a lot of elbow room. You get away with a lot of things. On screen, you can beat up 20 guys. But you get typecast. However, I am not complaining. I like to be a star. 

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