Hyderabad: Naga Chaitanya is basking in the success of Manam — the film is well on its way to become a blockbuster. But apart from the movie’s box office success, Naga Chaitanya’s performance has become the talking point.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, he talks about his experiences during doing the film and especially about sharing screen space with his grandfather, late ANR, and dad, Nagarjuna.
Also, when Vikram Kumar narrated the script to Naga Chaitanya and told him that he was actually playing Nagarjuna’s father, for the son, “it was the craziest thought”.
“I was shocked. But the director prepared me well. Initially, I faced difficulties, but the director would brief me about the scene and then leave me to do my own thing. He encouraged me to improvise. And with his support I was able to deliver a mature performance,” he says.
The “drunk” scenes in which Naga Chaitanya shared with his father Nagarjuna and grandfather ANR, were the toughest. “It’s not easy to act like that, and it was more difficult as my father and grandfather were present. I was confused in the first schedule because we never, never behaved like that at home. But both of them helped me to overcome my awkwardness. Luckily, in the film we were more like buddies,” he says.
Chaitanya also believes the movie was easier for his dad. “My father is a seasoned actor and he had already acted with my grandfather in a few films. This was my first experience with both of them. Maybe that’s the reason why my father dominated,” he says.
“Both my father and grandfather, the professionals they are, were able to completely come out of their character as soon as a scene was over. But when it was my turn, I still felt awkward acting with my father and grandfather, so it would take time for me to come out of it,” he says.
Overall, Chaitanya attributes the improvement in his performance to the “ANR magic” and to director Vikram. “Vikram gave me a lot of freedom, which is very important for an upcoming actor. He believes that if he restricts an actor, his original style will never come out,” says Chaitanya.
The onscreen chemistry between Chaitanya and Samantha too worked its magic. “Samantha and I started our careers at the same time. We are very comfortable with each other. I guess that showed on the screen too,” he says.
In Manam, Chaitanya plays two characters. One, the father of a six-year-old, the other the role of a college student. “The father’s role was a challenge because it’s a mature character and I’ve never done anything like this before. But I enjoyed playing a college student,” he says.
Chaitanya’s favourite scene in the film is where he meets Nagarjuna on a flight. “It’s a funny scene and my father has done it very well. Also, the chemistry between the three of us — my grandfather, father and I — worked out well. The entire credit goes to my grandfather. He actually acted and showed me what to do, something I’ll never forget,” he says.
Manam, he says, was an experimental film and its success has changed his thought-process. “After Manam, I believe, that one shouldn’t concentrate on commercial success alone. If the script has logic then we should go for it,” he says.
About his delayed film Autonagar Surya, he says, “The release is not in my hands and I am upset about the delay. But whenever it releases, it’s going to be another classic. I don’t know when, but I pray that it releases soon,” he says.
Talking about his brother Akhil’s cameo in the film, he says, “Akhil’s role was added in the last minute and it was Vikram’s idea. Though the role was short, it worked out well. I told Akhil that even if he did a solo film, he would never get such an introduction.” So, does he advice Akhil about films? He laughs, “Akhil will now advise me. He doesn’t need any advice.”
Like his father, Chaitanya too will now turn to production. “My father had asked me to take it up. That’s why I am looking after the production of my next film and I also want to produce films for our banner,” he says.
His mother, Lakshmi too liked the film. “She especially likes the flashback episode where I played the role of the father,” says Chaitanya.