Panja Vaisshnav Tej awaits the release of 'Uppena' on February 12. In this interview, the debutant actor talks about how the film fell in his lap, the experience of working on the movie, teaming up with Vijay Sethupathi, debutant director Buchi Babu Sana, his likes, what he wanted to become before trying acting and more.
Frankly, I was not much interested in acting. I grappled with myself for 2-3 years before zeroing in on acting. I once wanted to become a director. I realized that it's very difficult to become a filmmaker. I toyed with photography, astronaut work, 3D animation and all. None of them was my strength. Since I have a lot of respect for the Army, I wanted to become a soldier. I even tried to apply for a position there. My mother and brother (Sai Dharam Tej) asked me to try to get into acting. But I told them I won't be able to act like my brother.
Around this time, I happened to put my pics on Instagram. A couple of film offers came my way from those who liked them. I knew nothing about acting but was ready to act if trained properly. Those offers didn't work out. Months later, Buchi Babu Sana's script came my way. I had my doubts regarding my capabilities.
If I don't click in the film industry, I will shift to some other field and give my 100%. That's how I have always been like. I have no passions in particular.
I acted in 'Johnny' with Kalyan mama, who likes my eyes. I was very shy and I did that movie because I was promised toys. 'Shankardada MBBS' happened later. 'Andarivadu' followed. I have conveyed to Kalyan mama about 'Uppena'. My uncles are very happy about my choice.
I like a number of actors. I get excited when I watch Mahesh Babu garu's excellent scenes. Acting as a choice didn't come naturally to me.
Coming to 'Uppena', I liked the whole story and it has got a divine point. As love stories go, it's completely different. Doing this film happened with the flow. Chiranjeevi garu told me I should do the film because the story is very good. His words and Kalyan mama's words are the ultimate for me. I feel lucky that the best possible team fell in place for me.
We did workshops and it helped a lot. I learned the pronunciation of words because the film is set in a particular region. I would listen to audio recordings of locals speaking and how they pronounce particular words.
Coming to my character in the film, he is a fisherman whose only motto in life is to love the girl (Krithi Shetty). I am very thrilled to have got to work with Vijay Sethupathi. He was too busy to do the film. But he did it because he liked the story.
After watching the movie, Chiranjeevi garu told me he is proud of me. That's the best compliment I have got.
I like Jr NTR garu's dialogue-delivery. I am excited about big-name actors and their movies. I recently liked 'Master', whose background music is top-notch.
Thanks to Devi Sri Prasad garu, the songs have reached millions of people. I am fascinated by the creative process that goes into coming out with tunes. The dialogues are going to amaze the audience. I repeat that there is a lot of divinity in the soul of 'Uppena'.
Doing Krish Jagarlamudi garu's film was like doing my first project all over again. My character in it is completely different from what I have played in 'Uppena'.
Krithi Shetty learned Telugu in a short time. She is super-talented.
I like well-shot action movies. I would like to do an action movie.
The other day, I spoke on the stage for the first time, during the pre-release event of 'Uppena'. My friends have always wanted me to speak on the dais. I couldn't sleep that night because I was shocked that I spoke confidently.