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Applause matters more than box-office numbers, says 'Dasara' star Nani


Nani is basking in the glory of 'Dasara', which was released in theatres on March 30. In this interview, the Natural Star talks about the film's success, about which he was always sure to the point of seeming over-confident. Amid the talk that 'Dasara' will gross Rs 100 Cr in its lifetime, the versatile actor says that the applause that he is receiving for the period action drama is true growth, more than the numbers that it is registering at the box-office. Nani says that he has always received support from stalwarts like Chiranjeevi, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun and Tarak for his good movies. Prabhas and Mahesh have endorsed 'Dasara' through their social media posts. The 'Ante Sundaraniki' actor adds that each film has its commercial target to meet. "Except for films like 'RRR', for others, it is the non-theatrical revenue that is more important than theatrical revenue. My non-theatrical potential has been growing mad film after film," he affirms. "If we keep defining every film based on its BO performance, future filmmakers will be constrained on the creative front," he reasons. "If we want better films, we have to stop obsessing about BO collections," Nani ponders.

'Dasara' was not a fun film to work on. It was taxing in many ways; the dust, the physical exertion and all were not fun to be through. But we had the joy of seeing the scenes come out very well.

The actor in me is never satisfied. I am happy as an artist. The day we are satisfied, there is a risk of us becoming lethargic. 'Dasara' has become a badge of honour for those associated.

I always knew that director Srikanth Odela will turn out to be one of the best technicians. I was so confident about the movie's success ahead of the theatrical release that I knew it would be unstoppable even if some happen to criticize it.

If a film celebrates our culture, it's our responsibility to take it to the maximum set of audiences. While 'Dasara' is set in the backdrop of Telangana, we took care of small details while dubbing it in other languages like Hindi. I got to learn a lot about Telangana culture while doing 'Dasara'. Rooted films are celebrated by other language audiences as well. Thanks to 'Kantara', the whole country knows of the tradition of Bhoota Kola in coastal Karnataka.

I have been discouraging people from using the term 'Pan-India'. I am glad that the appreciation for 'Dasara' is broad-based. When I stated that the film will create hysteria in theatres, many thought I was overstating my case.

'Dasara' has made Rs 2 Cr in non-Telugu languages. That's a big deal if you ask me. We have heard good things about 'Viduthalai' (Tamil), but how many have watched it in theatres? Films like 'Dasara' need some time to gain momentum in other languages. The word of mouth is positive in Hindi. The collections are on the rise with each passing day.

The CBFC wanted the swear word 'Ben*at' to be muted. Our director took pains to convince the Board members about the need for such a word in the emotional scene. Had the word been muted, the tempo would have dwindled. Nowadays, Board members see the point of such words but they fear controversies. That's why they are cautious.

Music director Santhosh Narayanan didn't like Dharani tying the knot with Vennela without her consent. The director asked him to watch the movie further. The scene where Dharani rationalizes his act moved the composer.

The political and caste angles explored in the first half are left behind in the second half. The Ramayana allegory takes over. The turn was deliberate. That way, the arc is much more engaging, as it defies the audience's expectations.

Srikanth didn't narrate the story to Keerthy Suresh to impress her. He wanted an actress who is much leaner. After the film was over, he was convinced that only she could have enacted the character so well.

My career's biggest hits in terms of collections are 'Dasara', 'MCA' and 'Nenu Local' in that order. Every time I do special films, they say 'Nani before Jersey, Nani after Jersey', 'Nani before Dasara, Nani after Dasara'. I want this to continue!

I don't want to be bracketed as a mass hero or something after 'Dasara'. There will always be all types of roles from me. As an actor, I don't want to do only one kind of roles. In my next film, as you know, I will be seen as a six-year-old child's father. I am comfortable the most with not repeating myself. If I get to do a mass film again, I will do it. But I don't hanker after such a genre. I don't think like a businessman.

I never set out to introduce new directors. I just happened to introduce ten new filmmakers, all of whom are doing pretty well today.

My son was witness to the paper scraps thrown around by fans during a screening of 'Dasara'. He was worried that papers were being wasted. It will take him another two years to understand things. He is slowly trying to understand the story while watching a film.

I am happy that I have been receiving constant support and love from the audience in the US. Not just my films, but also my production 'AWE' did extremely well in the US. It means the audience there are loyal and keep faith in my films.

I would have done 'Dasara' even if 'Rangasthalam' and 'Pushpa' didn't exist. If anything, 'Dasara' would have become a bigger hit had it been the first such film (laughs).

'Dasara' won't have a sequel. The epilogue that you see in the end is a closure. It is not a lead to any sequel.  

Updated on April 3, 2023