'Okka Magadu' is having record collections ever since it released. How does it feel? Was it expected?
The film has released in maximum number of theatres in Andhra Pradesh and abroad and we have had record collections everywhere. We are very happy. From my side, I think it is the success of the audience too and I thank them earnestly.
Your father late NTR garu ensured that his films promoted social awareness. Now, YVS Choudhary came along and made a film which has a strong social message for you. So, finally you seem to be treading into your fatherís pathÖ
Honestly, even my father never planned to make such films initially. Such well-scripted roles came to him. Since he literally lived his roles, his films saw ultimate success. It is a known fact that YVS Choudhary is a huge fan of our Nandamuri family. If we were to draw parallels, he is like Anjeneya Swamy to Lord Rama. He researched all my fatherís films and he moulded my character in 'Okka Magadu' accordingly. With the film, he showed to the audience how he had imagined me all along, as a huge fan of our family.
Playing the old man in the film, could have meant so much hard work, from what we get to see in the film. Did you know this when you said yes to the movie?
I always try to give something new to the audience. My father played Sardar Paparayudu when he was relatively younger. He also played Bheeshma during his younger days and again when he was older. Make-up is rather crucial for such roles. In my fatherís case, it was he who used to understand the character and work upon the look. He seldom left much for the make-up men to improvise upon.
Coming to me, I had already done Sultan. The opening shot of the film had me in the get-up of a very old man. For that film, I took make-up tips from the local make-up artists. I just wanted to try it and did it for a lark. I didnít know about allergies or any such risks at that time. I simply discussed it with the technicians and played along. Those were the times when prosthetics was unheard of.
If you can recollect my fatherís look in Badipantulu, that is what I had wanted to recreate with my look in present times. I am very happy that our efforts have been liked by the audience.
All those who had watched the film say your look is reminiscent of Sardar PaparayuduÖ
I thought of one of the looks that father had while playing the part of Krishna Devarayalu where he wears a turban for the part of the revolutionary in 'Okka Magadu'. But fans and friends who liked the look a lot felt that it was more like 'Sardar Paparayudu'. However since Choudhary happens to such a huge fan of my father, it could have played on his mind naturally. Once I told him about the look and we had a sketch, we realized it looked similar to fatherís look which anyways. What Choudhary and I had always dreamed of has been realized through Okka Mogadu.
Did you give any specific inputs for the get-up? Did you suggest anything regards the body language, etc?
The character is all about the right make-up. We went to the US and got the whole stuff from there. The technicians there were equally committed and were total perfectionists. They did not compromise because we were from India and from the Telugu industry. Incidentally, there are people in Mumbai too who can do prosthetic make-up, but they cannot match up to international standards. That is reason why we went all the way to the US. I knew we went to the best persons in the world. So it was so much easier.
There would have been times when you had wanted a retake for a particular shot or when YVS insisted on a retakeÖ how was your experience working with YVS?
It happens all the time. No one ever asked for retakes in the case of my father. But he would always ask for retakes if he was not satisfied. He was a perfectionist. My father never compromised. Despite high temperature, he once shot till the director was thoroughly satisfied. He always struck to his commitments and adjusted with the call sheets of his co-artistes too, keeping the producersí interests in mind. His dedication is well-known. He would never argue and only improvise.
I too suggest whenever I feel something is overdone or milder than what is required. It is, but natural.
You looked like a proper old man in the old man get-up and looked really young and fit in the younger part. How did you manage this variation?
We had discussions about the body language Ė about how the old man should walk and how the young man should. The older man is shown as having undergone training in the Chinese Martial Arts, etc. As per his character, his body may have aged, but not his mind. Thatís what gives him the power. We have heard of stories of how people have overcome cancer with their determination. He belongs to that breed of people.
Most heroines dread working with you. But once they act with you, they insist you are a gentleman and the best co-star. What is it that you do to charm your heroines?
(Laughs) Itís all about team work. If there is a communication gap, I try to patch up that gap. I think thatís the reason why they feel comfortable working with me.
When the first copy was released and your friends and family watched the film, how did they react?
They were all very happy that we tried something new and very different from what I have done till now. I know by instinct when I connect with my audience. Sometimes, there is a premonition, but we cannot put it into words. We just sense it. I was seen in various get-ups that the audience always wanted to see me in, in 'Okka Magadu'.
There is a strong social message too. Also, it is a grand and richly made film. I am not a very open person. I respond similarly to professional acquaintances as I do to people in my in personal life. So they were very happy seeing me in a character with so many different shades.
Lastly, despite your experience and your knowledge of the film industry, is there something that you picked up after working with YVS?
We both have common characteristics. We are both hard working and punctual. SoÖ in that sense nothing new (laughs).