Naga Chaitanya's 'Bangarraju' will head to theatres on January 14. Starring Akkineni Nagarjuna, Krithi Shetty, Ramya Krishna and others, it is directed by Kalyan Krishna.
In this interview, the 'Love Story' actor talks about the film, his homework for it, why playing Chinna Bangarraju was not easy, the highlights of the Sankranthi release, his upcoming projects, divorce with Samantha, and more.
My chemistry with my father is more energetic and better in 'Bangarraju' than in 'Manam'. Before shooting, I asked him and director Kalyan too many doubts. 'Soggade Chinni Nayana' was a hit. And this is the first time that I have done a sequel. So, I was jittery. I made it a point to watch 'SCN' on repeat. It helped me get into the groove. I observed and listened to audio recordings of the director's narration in order to understand the script better.
The screen time that I and my father have is equal in the film. Bangarraju (Nagarjuna) is the main character. It's not true that he is less important. The trailer was cut in a different way and that's all. I am his grandson in the movie. I am naughty. Ramu (son) stays in the US and the interaction with him is via phone.
There are many heroines (read Faria, Daksha, etc.) but they are more limited to songs. Krithi Shetty is the only heroine. It was fun to dance a lot for this movie. This is the one time I have danced the most in my career. The choreography has worked very well.
'Bangarraju' is a film that must be enjoyed keeping aside logic. I have done logical, realistic romances before. But 'Bangarraju' is a different ball game. I and Naga Lakshmi (Krithi Shetty) are always into quarrels with each other. How their relationship evolves will be entertaining to watch. Every 10 minutes, there is some 'tamasha' in the story.
Before the film started, I spent time with my director. I also studied Sankranthi biggies of the past years. Films set in rural areas in Telugu have had a certain vibe. Studying them was my homework. 'Bangarraju' is a festival film first and last. It was designed to be a festival release. My father was adamant that he doesn't want to postpone its release to Summer.
'Bangarraju' was planned four years ago. I and my father were busy with other projects. When the film was started, the pandemic came in. The entire shoot was completed in a single schedule last year.
My costumes are floral in nature. The floral shirts and bright colours are meant to suit the festive vibes.
Anup Rubens and Annapurna Studios have had a successful collaboration over the years. Sid Sriram has sung a song and this is my second one with the singer. 'Vaasivaadi Thassadiyya' is my favourite. There is a song between me and Daksha Nagarkar in the film. I enjoyed doing that song. It's yet to be released.
Krithi Shetty is a very good artist who does a lot of homework. She has played an energetic character. It's a crazy character.
I must say that keeping the energy levels intact while playing a mass character is not easy. The audience come in with high expectations and you have to live up to them.
VFX is to the tune of 35 minutes, which will be a nice big-screen experience. DoP J Yuvaraj has done miniatures. The opening sequence has come out really well in terms of graphics, visuals, and special effects. Ram and Lakshman have done action episodes. They are larger-than-life. There is a 'karra' fight and I had to practise so much for it.
Cinema ticket rates in Andhra Pradesh were decided in April last year. We planned the budget of 'Bangarraju' keeping the rates in mind. My father planned the costs keeping the investment recoveries in mind. I am an actor. I act and come back home. If there are problems, I ask my producer if he needs any help from me. Beyond that, I don't get into issues. We have to adapt to the developments.
'Thank You' is 85% completed. One foreign schedule is pending. It will take off from January 25. I will be shooting for a horror web series under Vikram Kumar's direction for Amazon Prime. Nothing has been finalized with Vijay Kanakamedala (of 'Naandhi' fame). As for my film with Parasuram Petla, it will happen after he is done with Mahesh Babu's 'Sarkaru Vaari Paata'. 'Laal Singh Chaddha' was an old project that I shot late because of the pandemic. Aamir Khan is a treasure trove of knowledge. Every actor must work with him. If the Amazon Prime web series is released this year, I will have four releases in 2022.
Rana Daggubati and Akhil are my best friends in the industry. My father always gives me pieces of advice. In the case of 'Bangarraju', every call was his.
On divorce with Samantha: It's fine. It's okay. The family has been supportive. It was a collective decision taken by us for our own good. If she is happy, I am happy. We felt it's the best way to go about it!