In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Nagarjuna Akkineni spoke about several things including his perspective on the industry, life, and more. His film, Wild Dog has released in theatres today and his fans were excited about it.
The Telugu language action thriller Wild Dog is hitting the theatres today amid fanfare and anticipation. Superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni in an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla discusses his perspective on life, decades in the industry, film, and many things in between.
“We are excited and confident about the release but at the same time very anxious to know how people will receive it,” the actor says. Superstar Nagarjuna is still fondly loved as Dr. Ajay Kumar of the 1995’s romantic thriller Criminal. For many of the millennials and boomers, his appearance is accompanied with the BGM of the evergreen romantic song Tum Mile. In addition, he is certainly counted among a few of the Indian film industry actors who seem to have found the fountain of youth! However, Nagarjuna laughs it off as mere love by fans.
He made his screen debut as a child artist in 60’s Telugu cult classic Sudigundalu, before making his debut as a lead in the Telugu remake of the Bollywood film Hero titled Vikram. The actor has worked in hundreds of films and yet after so many movies and years in the industry, he claims the release day continues to make him anxious. “It hasn’t changed as in any artist or creative people – we crave for attention, for acceptance. We all live on that. Now, fame and money are not what I am looking forward to. I look for acceptance about what we have done in the last six months and during the film production. Earlier, I used to be a little shaken up and would lose sleep but now I have overcome it. I feel I have done my best and now it’s about waiting for the audience reaction,” the actor adds.
For a brief period, the actor says that the makers even deliberated if Wild Dog should take the OTT-release route and were in talks with Netflix. “Yes, we had planned an OTT release as we finished the film by November and by that time cases were pretty high. The vaccine was not available, and there was a lot of fear in people to venture out to public places. At that point, we thought OTT was best as we can’t wait that long. Even when it opens up and then there will be a line of films to be released. We had an enquiry and nice offer from Netflix. We wanted to go ahead and we were in the negotiation stage. That time films started releasing in theatres and were doing very well. We were then confident to go for a theatrical release. After all, this film is made for the big screen,” the actor says.
The film is action-packed and based on real incidents. Nagarjuna says the action sequences were scripted closer to reality, “We purposely wanted action in a certain way. The film is based on real incidents and we wanted the action to be real. That’s how it was planned and it worked out superbly for us. We had to train a little bit for that kind of action. This is a kind of action which usually you don’t see in South Indian commercial films – what people call as a ‘New Age’ action. It’s the kind you see in Hollywood films and you believe that ‘yes, it’s actually happening’.”
In fact, the South film industry has been upping the ante in production and performance in the last few years. The actor concurs and adds, “There are a lot of positive changes that are happening. Baahubali and KGF have got unheard collections and this gives us confidence that yes, we can plan too.”
However, he is quick to add that over-reliance on technology is also prevalent. “I also noticed a lot of technology is being used. I call it disruptive technology. I call it disruptive because it”s placed in the hands of people who really don’t know how to use it. There are very few people who know how to use it and that’s the only thing which I wish is that they first understand it before they use it. Very few directors whom I can count on my hand understand it. Technology is so huge that we can create anything out of it so first learn how to use it. Don’t say VFX se hojata,” he chuckles.
Speaking on the trend of remakes in Bollywood he says, “It’s good and the world is definitely getting smaller. Bollywood films are coming down South and there are many films like 83 and Brahmastra which are looking at the southern market. Similarly, after Baahubali, a lot of South Indian films have looked at Pan-India releases. People want to expand their markets and even my dubbed films have got good response. Whenever I come to Goa, Mumbai or any northern cities they treat me like how they treat me in the south.”
“As an actor, I know why people watch dubbed movies,” he adds. “In south, we are still sticking closer to our culture. Maybe we are a little over the top or sometimes we are larger than life with our action and songs but at the end they still can relate to it. That’s why even the dubbed films are doing so well. The entertainment, comedy is something which you also see on the streets and people can connect with you. I ask people what they like about dubbed films and they have told me that we can identify with it, we feel we are the character. I am so happy we are able to penetrate into the north market as it adds to the revenue of the film.”
But he confesses, the definition of success for him has changed over the years. “30 years back it meant to be accepted and to achieve. Nowadays, it also means to use it responsibly. There is a huge responsibility on us. Along with power comes huge responsibility. I don’t want to take the safe path and want to try different things,” he concludes.
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