As actor Nagarjuna promotes his upcoming film Officer, he is reluctant to talk about anything else. “No controversies please” are the first words to come out of his mouth when he enters the room. He says he’s willing to answer any question about Officer, and we take him up on that.
Ram Gopal Varma first approached Nagarjuna for Officer in the year 2016. “I told Ramu — ‘I am at the stage of my career where I want to do good films. I only want to concentrate on my films, but you’re concentrating on a lot of things. So come back to me when you’re ready’,” Nagarjuna says.
The director came back to him within three months and narrated the same story once again. “He returned with the same passion, so I told him that we could start doing the film,” the actor adds.
On working with RGV
Like everyone else, we’re curious to know why a successful actor would choose to work with a failed director. “I know his last few films haven’t done well, but he is a very talented director. Somewhere along the journey, he lost his way. I had a long conversation with him before agreeing to do this film. I told him clearly that if he agreed to fully concentrate on the film, then I would do it, otherwise we would just be good friends who meet every two months and have a drink,” he says.
But the director managed to convince him to do the role “He (RGV) told me that he had started his career with me and that he imagined me as the real officer in this film. It’s a very hero-centric film and he hasn’t done anything like it since Siva. I told him — ‘This is your genre, but somehow you got lost and did something mad in between’,” Nagarjuna says.
Isn’t he worried about the controversies surrounding RGV? “I have done over 95 films so far. Now I have stopped worrying. I want to enjoy doing films, go for my shoots and return in a happy mood. You can’t live when you worry about everything. If you think about it logically, 65 per cent of my active life is over. Let me enjoy the last 35 per cent, without worrying,” he says.
Wasn’t Officer a risky proposition for him to agree to? “Every film is a risk. Sometimes you get the best director, the best female lead, and the best technicians, but the film still turns out to be a flop. Take, for example, my film Chandralekha, which was directed by Krishna Vamsi, had Ramya Krisna as the female lead, and music by Sandeep Chowta. It was a remake of a Malayalam hit film, but it was deemed a flop by the Monday after its release,” Nagarjuna says.
Shooting for Officer was not a cakewalk for the actor, especially the action sequences. “RGV always comes up with realistic action scenes. He shoots them using six cameras and gets some close-up shots too. So there’s no way I can use a body double. I worked hard on the action scenes, especially the climax, which was shot at a building under construction. Iron rods and construction material were there as RGV wanted it to look real, and I ended up getting a few scratches. It was difficult, but I am completely satisfied,” he says.
“Priyan called me and said that he was working on his dream project — a story based on two captains in World War 2. Tamil actor Dhanush also called me and said that he wanted to do a film with me. He was supposed to do it with his mamagaru (Rajinikanth), but since he is now devoting his attention topolitics, Dhanush approached me. I haven’t said anything, I need to have a look at the two projects,” he says.
There are reports doing the rounds that a biopic based on his father, ANR, is also being planned. “He led a very simple, beautiful, inspirational life, especially in his last few years. A biopic needs a more interesting story; it needs some downfall, which wasn’t there in my father’s life. Even on his last day, he said goodbye to his five kids before departing. What will we convey through his biopic — I don’t know. I personally feel that his story would work better as a book,” Nagarjuna says.
Nagarjuna currently has his hands full with so many projects that he is working more than his sons. “Yes, because I don’t worry too much. The other day Chaitanya said, ‘you’re not bothered, which is why you are doing so many projects. But we have a lot of things to think about’,” he says.
Does he feel a sense of competition? “There is competition because there is so much talent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a star or a star’s son — there are no guarantees. It all depends on the quality of the content that you deliver,” Nagarjuna says.