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Interview with Nagarjuna Akkineni
Date: 5 September 2012, Hyderabad
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Nagarjuna Akkineni recently met the scribes at Studio 3 of Annapurna 7 Acres. He was shooting for a special song of Damarukam along with Charmme. Nagarjuna spoke freely about his upcoming film Shirdi Sai and on many other issues -

Tell us how different is Shirdi Sai film from Annamayya and Sriramadasu?

There were no visual references for Annamayya film. Hence most of the story is created. In Sriramadasu, most of the story is created except for the part of building temple. But, Shirdi Sai is a story that happened in near past. Hence there is authentic material that we used for research. There is a part of the story where Sai disappears for 9 years. Nobody knew where Baba went to. Director K Raghavendra Rao used cinematic liberty only for that part. Lot of scenes in this film are dramatized by dialogues for generating an impact. The director made sure that the philosophy/thought process/tatvam was properly shown using Shirdi Sai movie.

There are a couple of blockbusters with Shirdi Sai story in the past. Did you watch those films?
I didn’t watch those films deliberately. I read books on Sai Baba and interpreted the character on my own. Sai Baba is an enlightened-man who is healthy and full of energy. I didn’t use that shiver mannerism that is used by actors in the past. I believe that Sai Baba is a healthy and strong man. My father ANR at the age of 80 is perfectly fit and he doesn't shiver/finch. My father’s entire set of teeth is god-given. I can imagine that Sai Baba is completely healthy till he went into Samadhi.

Did you do any home work to play this character?
I didn’t do any home work. Shirdi Sai is the easiest film I had done in my entire career. The shoot was completed in 55 working days. Two days ahead of what was planned for.

Why do you think that Shirdi Sai has become such a powerful and popular God?
The best thing about Sai Baba is that one doesn’t need to follow any procedure/diet to follow Sai Baba. There is no restriction in terms of caste/religion. He was a sadguru (an enlightened man). I personally believe in the philosophy of Sai Baba. My favorite song has always been ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. This is my favorite new year song. I had always tried to incorporate the spirit of this song in my films and never succeeded. Likewise, there is certain philosophy I believe in which is being treated as ‘sai tatvam’.

Tell us about your future films?

Dhamarukam: The shooting was complete long back. After watching the film, I felt that it would be nice to have a masala song as an introduction to hero character. Charmme is dancing with me in this song. I would like to have a healthy 6-weeks gap between Shirdi Sai and Damarukam. Hence, Damarukam will be releasing in the 3rd week of October. I was little upset about the delay of Damarukam film, but realised the effort of VFX team when I saw visual effects. The delay in release is completely justified for the outstanding graphics the film is going to have.

Bhai: My next film Bhai will be in the direction of Veerabhadam. It’s an entertainer and I am working on my characterization now.

3-Gen film: A film starring three generations of Akkineni (ANR, Nagarjuna, Naga Chaitanya) will be launched in the next year. Vikram who directed Ishq is preparing script. We have principally okayed on the storyline. He is working on screenplay now.

Love Story: I am doing a mature love story called ‘Love Story’ in the direction of Dasarath at present.

There will be a film each on Durga Arts banner and Bellamkonda Suresh’s production. I had asked B Jaya (Lovely fame) to prepare a story for me.

When will Akhil make his debut?
He will make it when he thinks he is ready.

The market of Telugu films has exploded in the recent years. Do you think you missed it out?
My best is yet to come (smiles). You will see bigger commercial entertainers from me in the near future. I think that Telugu film industry’s potential is 3 times more that what it is delivering today. Th government should allow flexible pricing of movie tickets. There is flexible pricing everywhere but for films in AP. Film industry has become a soft target for the AP government. They increased petrol prices by 13% at one go, they have almost doubled power tariff at one go. But they don’t allow film ticket rates to increase.

Akkineni Film Institute is function in highly professional way?
Yes Akkineni film institute is going great guns. My aim is to see it attracting foreign students. Presently we have students exchange program with Chapman University, California. 4 students are being exchanged per batch.

The new constructed Annapurna 7 acres studios have the distinction of being the best in India?
yes. But this is the tip of iceberg in entertainment field. There is so much to do. This is the part of phase I. We have so many plans. We could have done a lot more but for red-tapism in Government.

Tell us about Auto Nagar Surya?
I had seen Prasthanam and felt that it was nicely made film. I have asked Deva Katta to balance the Auto Nagar Surya with entertainment in order to reach the critical mass. When I saw Seenu Vytla’s first film Nee Kosam, I told him to do entertainment-oriented films. Now see where he is today. I am completely happy with the way Auto Nagar Surya is shaping up.

If you have to describe Shirdi Sai in one line?
Shirdi Sai is a 2 hours and 15 minutes touching and uplifting film.


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