'Lucky to be still working': Nagarjuna on his 64th birthday
He turned 64 on August 29. It’s a working birthday for the actor and he’s happy to be getting roles that satisfy his craving for challenges
Nagarjuna and I have known one another for 25 years, maybe more. He is never one to beat around the bush. He is the most happy being one of the living legends of Telugu cinema. He never craved for success in Bollywood even though his Hindi films Zakham and Khuda Gawah did well in the 1990s.
He turned 64 on August 29. It’s a working birthday for the actor and he’s happy to be getting roles that satisfy his craving for challenges. “I am lucky to be still working as a leading man at a time when my two sons have joined the film industry. I wouldn’t say I am at the fag-end of my career. But in the second-half of my career I want to make sure every movie makes me happy as an artiste. At the same time I want my audiences’ approval for what I do.”
Nag’s two sons Nag Chaitanya and Akhil are leading men themselves. “So enough of those conventional romantic roles for me. I can’t be running around trees with my co-stars anymore. I have two sons who are now leading men in Telugu cinema working with the same heroines that I am working with. I am guiding them. But I don’t thrust my opinion on them. They are free to do what they like. I can only advise them. I don’t want them to be like me. I just want them to imbibe the good things from my life and ignore the rest.”
Nag has been married to the lovely Amala for 30 years. He says they are still as much in love as they used to be. “I suppose it is the Hyderabad climate that make us so romantic. Look at Mahesh Babu and Namrata, still so much in love. I am blessed to have her as my soul mate. I must have done something good in my life to have her.”
Nag thinks this is a transitional phase for Telugu cinema. “Run-of-the-mill-films won’t work .A new phase has started in Telugu cinema. I think it’s a very exciting time to be an actor. I am looking at quite a few scripts. I want to keep trying something new all the time. It is the only way to grow. I’ve to be happy with the work I am doing. And to be happy the role has to be challenging. And for the role to be challenging, it has to be something I haven’t done before.”
Nag made comeback to Hindi films last year with Karan Johar’s exorbitant spiritual sci-fi production Brahmastra. The actor sounds a bit surprised at being offered a major Hindi film at this stage of his career. “My career in Andhra keeps me busy. I’ve not shown any inclination to do a Hindi film, though I’m open to doing films in any language if the set-up is good. Brahmastra was impressive from the moment it came to me. I said yes immediately”
Nag remains a famished actor. “I still hunger for great roles. I wish Rajamouli had asked me to do a role in Baahubali. I always wanted to do a lavish costume drama or a period film. I’ve never done one of these. I crave to do a film about lost kingdoms, kings in exiles and ethereal princesses. Even in Hollywood I love costume dramas like Troy and 300. I see period films like these whenever I am bored. And I am very unhappy that when we made our own Hollywood-styled spectacle I was in it. Rajamouli should’ve cast me.”
Why did he distance himself from Hindi cinema? “I didn’t distance myself from Hindi cinema. It’s just that I was so content in Telugu cinema. By God’s grace, my career graph always showed an upswing. I was very content with what I had in Andhra. Fans in Andhra love my father, me and my sons unconditionally. But I am very proud of my Hindi films” he concludes.
Nag is there to guide his sons whenever they need his advice. When Nag became an actor his father guided him initially. Nag has adopted the same approach for his two sons Naga Chaitanya and Akhil. He advises them whenever they seek his advice, or when he sees them going wrong. That’s it. No more than that.
For those who wonder what Nag eats to stay so fit he reveals it is normal ghar ka khana. Nag’s wife Amala and Nag are just lucky to be healthy. Nag has always been very health conscious. In fact, after Amala married him she acquired a lot of Nag’s traits including vegetarianism.
Nag still hungers for great roles. He would have liked to be in Rajamouli’s Baahubali.
“If you ask me about the one genre that I haven’t done and would love to do, it would be a costume drama. I always wanted to do a lavish costume drama or a period film. I’ve never done one of those. I crave to do a film about lost kingdoms, kings in exiles and ethereal princesses. Even in Hollywood I love costume dramas like Troy and 300. I see period films like these whenever I am bored. And I am very unhappy that when we made our own Hollywood-styled spectacle I wasn't in it. Rajamouli should’ve cast me.”
Nag’s favourite film from his own repertoire is the film that he did with his father Manam. It made me feel worthwhile. My father (the legendary Akkineni Nageshwara Rao) wanted to die with his boots on. He collapsed on the sets while doing a song. We actually had to carry him out of the sets. That’s the way I would like to go.”
Published: 29 Aug 2023, 11:53 AM