Ahead of the theatrical release of 'Shyam Singha Roy' on December 24, Natural Star Nani talks about the film, working with Sai Pallavi and Krithi Shetty, what makes director Rahul Sankrityan a filmmaker to watch out for, his upcoming movies, the OTT experience, and more.
I am a fanboy of theatres. Due to the pandemic, we had no option and therefore 'V' and 'Tuck Jagadish' had to be OTT releases. I savour the theatrical experience. I am very excited about 'Shyam Singha Roy'.
For period films, you need a strong team of excellent production designer, costume designer, choreographers, and all. 'Shyam Singha Roy' is going to transport you to the 1970s Bengal. I didn't put on weight for the character Shyam. The technicians worked meticulously. They did extensive pre-production works even with respect to the costumes of junior artists. About 200 of them wear specific costumes. A look test was done and auditions held.
There is no commonality between my film and Kamal Haasan garu's movies 'Naayakudu' and 'Hey Ram'. The beats may seem somewhat similar but ours is a completely different movie.
Four specific episodes in the film gave me goosebumps. I got involved in them thoroughly. They are in sync with the story.
Director Rahul Sankrityan is very passionate. For his age, he is very intelligent and subtle. In this regard, he is much like Gowtam Tinnanuri ('Jersey' director). He has a strong grounding in literature and such a person handling a period drama feels just right!
Authenticity has been built brilliantly in the film. Back in the early post-Independence decades, our society had several social evils. Shyam is a Communist and an atheist. What does it look like when he falls in love with a Devadasi (played by Sai Pallavi)? That's an exciting idea. This is a fictional love story.
When I listen to the story, I imagine playing the character. I just recreate what is in my mind on set. I don't go in for references.
So many Bengalis are waiting for our movie. The Bengali punch line in the trailer has clicked with them. Many non-Telugus are thinking that I am a Bengali!
Sanu John Varghese is one of my favourite cinematographers. He has done a variety of films, ranging from my 'Jersey' to 'Badhaai Ho' (Hindi) and 'Malik' (Malayalam). He wants the film to be talked about, not just his work. That's why he is a unique cinematographer.
Amazon Prime is happy with the response for 'V' and 'Tuck Jagadish', which were direct OTT releases. As per their policy, they don't reveal the numbers. But they conveyed to us that the films have done very well!
It's true that 'SSR' is the costliest film in my career. The budget of my movies kept on increasing over the years. Every time, they were costly at the given point of time for my market. The budget for my upcoming movies will be more than that of 'SSR'. Non-theatrical deals of 'SSR' have been solid. The producer is happy. Risk-taking is always there. 'Dasara' might turn out to be more expensive than 'SSR'.
Krithi Shetty is new and she behaves like an enthusiastic student. She always tries to improve herself. Sai Pallavi and I had a limited number of scenes in 'MCA'. Those four scenes clicked with the audience thoroughly. Unlike 'MCA', 'SSR' is intense and has got whole different beats. She is always ready for distinct roles. She has shouldered more responsibility here.
I didn't have to do risky shots for 'SSR'. The technicians and action department took care of everything. There are impactful action sequences for sure.
Being interviewed by Nandamuri Balakrishna garu on Aha's 'Unstoppable' was a great experience. He is just like a child. He has beautiful qualities.
'Ante Sundaraniki' and 'Dasara' will also be pan-South India movies like 'SSR'. I should have made 'Jersey' a pan-India movie because the movie had that potential. I will do a pan-India movie if something suitable comes my way. Ever since 'Naan Ee' ('Eega') was released, the audience there have loved me.
'Tuck Jagadish' was a purely Telugu entertainer. I wouldn't have made them in other languages. But subjects like 'SSR' and 'Dasara' have a wider appeal. If we have a strong story, a film will become pan-India automatically. You don't have to make efforts to push the boundaries.
'Dasara' is a raw and rustic movie. It is going to give you goosebumps from start to end. A never-heard-before subject in Telugu is at its core. I will be mouthing authentic, local dialect.