'Bangarraju' heads to the theatres this Friday (January 14). In this interview, Akkineni Nagarjuna talks about the film, working with his son Naga Chaitanya, Ramya Krishna, director Kalyan Krishna, the supernatural elements in the entertainer, sticking to Sankranthi, the ticket prices controversy hogging AP, his future projects, and more.
The crucial difference between 'Soggade Chinni Nayana' and 'Bangarraju' is that, in the latter, the entry of Chinna Bangarraju (Naga Chaitanya) makes it more youthful and energetic. An advantage is that those who liked 'SCN' will want to watch 'Bangarraju' without fail. And the challenge is to live up to the expectations. For Sankranthi, we have claimed to have made a pakka festival film. We have to live up to the claim.
In 'Bangarraju', Bangarraju (Nagarjuna) has to descend on Earth for a reason. Working out the bloodline and the chemistry in the script was a thoughtful process. My chemistry with my father worked in the movies we did in the 1980s and later. And it was my turn to repeat it with my son. We had been planning the film for more than a year before the pandemic came about.
'Manam' wouldn't have worked had the cast been different. It wouldn't have worked without my father, me and Naga Chaitanya. Many Bollywood producers wanted to remake it but they felt that it might not work with another set of actors.
Anup Rubens was enlisted for 'Manam' because I loved his music for 'Ishq'. He is like a family member for our banner. If we say a tune is not good, he doesn't feel offended. Director Kalyan Krishna, too, likes his work. His music is better than that for 'SCN'.
Before the shooting, I asked Chaitanya to watch 'SCN'. More than me, the director was of big help in training him to speak in a specific dialect. Kalyan Krishna is very good at writing. He is very comfortable to work with.
I have played a villager in the past and I am comfortable with a certain type of characterizations. My chemistry with Ramya Krishna, too, has worked really well. I know her well and she is fun to work with. She cracks jokes on set and makes us laugh!
It's true that 'Bangarraju' was planned to be a Sankranthi release. The shoot was started on August 25, 2021. Everyone on set was told that the film would have to be ready for Sankranthi 2022. And if it was not possible, we would release the movie for Sankranthi 2023. I told the unit members that we can stop the shoot if it is not possible to complete the shoot in four months. We hope that the collections are good despite the pandemic.
Naga Chaitanya's performance is going to surprise the audience. He is a different Chaitanya here. He worked hard despite his initial doubts that he might not be apt for the character.
There are a few surprises up Bangarraju's sleeves. We won't reveal them now. Thanks to 'RRR' and 'Baahubali', our technicians at Annapurna Studios have learned VFX work acutely. The VFX works of 'Bangarraju' were done here itself under the supervision of two technical leads.
The action sequences are by the Ram-Lakshman duo. Since there are supernatural elements, Naga Chaitanya's character shows inexplicable energy. The fight masters elevated the powers in a unique way.
What I like the most about Krithi Shetty is that she speaks good Telugu. She knows Hindi and her mother tongue Tulu. She is highly professional and punctual. She is ever-so-smiling. As Sarpanch Naga Lakshmi, she is really fun to watch in the movie.
'Manmadhudu' is a brand name that has stuck with me. It attained a classic status after a point in time.
The GO concerning the cinema ticket prices in Andhra Pradesh was released in April last year. Therefore, we could calculate how much should be invested in 'Bangarraju' in order to attain hit status. If the cinema ticket rates are increased, it will be a bonus. Even if the current rates prevail, we are safe as far as 'Bangarraju' is concerned. I am not talking about other films.
I didn't work for 2 years barring the 'Bigg Boss' shoot. I can't wait any longer and that's why I am releasing 'Bangarraju' despite the pandemic. So far, there are no restrictions in Telangana.
I and Chiranjeevi garu talk regularly. He told me that he has got an appointment with the CM (Jaganmohan Reddy). I am looking forward to their meeting.
In Maharashtra, restrictions that were announced were withdrawn in a short time because there was opposition (from businessmen). Covid-19 is a new beast. The reactions have been knee-jerk at times. All around the globe, governments are dilly-dallying and changing rules frequently.
The film industry is yet to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic. A lot of people I know are getting infected.
We in the family are sentimental about our ancestors. When we face a stressful situation in the family, we just tell ourselves that Nanna garu will take care of our welfare!