Knowing his true calling
Senior actor Naresh, the Jandhyala find is embarking on an exciting phase in his career. Starting out as a child artiste in 1970, he entertained audiences with unique comedy choices in the 80’s and was on a break, a few years ago. The industry, he says, wasn’t in a phase to accept something challenging for middle aged actors. Just when that time passed and the likes of Rajendra Prasad, Jagapathi Babu and many of his contemporaries made the switch to character roles, he found his true calling and felt ready for the change. 2015 has especially been a lovely year for the actor, with successes like Bhale Bhale, Subramanyam For Sale under his belt and his opportunity to work in Mahesh’s Brahmotsavam. More on how he manages, work, family and deals with social life in an exclusive chat with Telugu360.com
Transformation into a character artiste and roles in recent films:
From the second innings there was a doubt as to what sort of roles I will be doing, the industry was doubtful as to what will suit me. ‘Will he do this role or not?’ was on their mind. From character artiste to doing a villain is different but transformation from being a hero to villain or a character artiste is different. It took some time to overcome this and at one point, I had to do films with lower production values to let people know that I am doing movies. Films like Chandamama Kathalu, Drushyam, Beeruva catapulted my career and helped me became a busy artiste. I never wanted to establish myself as a comedian or do father roles only. I had a broad canvas on mind. Drishyam proved to people I can do serious roles in a heavy climax, Chandamama Kathalu was a futuristic genre, Beeruva was contemporary and set the stage for the next stage of my career, Bhale Bhale Mogadivoye did the magic. People knew that I can carry off comedy characters with a certain flair, that script gave me a new high. Subramanyam For Sale had me playing a heavy role as a middle class father. I feel there is a gap in the industry for the middle aged who can do a hilarious and a serious role. I am doing Guntur Talkies, which is based on Delhi Belly. As an actor, it is a challenge. For the role, I am ten years younger, sexually and financially frustrated and leading a set of dumb idiots. Garam starring Aadi had me change my entire face structure and voice modulation, you won’t even recognise me. I believe in make over and not make up. I changed the way I look, my body language etc. I am finding a new self in me. I am accepting all these after a lot of homework. In a Tamil film, I am playing a ghost’s dad who is madly in love with his son. Kanmani is the director. I am enjoying this phase of my life more than what I did as a hero.
Balancing between big and small films:
Most of the films I am doing are big banners now. I am doing a forty day role in Brahmotsavam, then I am doing 30 days in Trivikram Srinivas’s films and at the same time, a lot of young directors are coming to me with radical and experimental roles. Young director breed is now coming up with exciting scripts. Even as a hero, I had done various roles, the foundation I laid for myself in the second innings for the next ten years is very strong. Now I am facing the pleasure of pressure. God has given me enough, I am now working out next level of career, other languages and I am making sure my dates don’t clash. A small film may not give the remuneration like a big film but it gives me the satisfaction. I am trying to balance between big films and small.
On major changes in the diktats of the industry:
I am looking at a change of guard in the sector of direction, production. Earlier it was teenage love, slowly it shifted to action and comedies. There were films occasionally like Mee Sreyobhilashi and Andari Bandhuvaiyya which were critically acclaimed , not welcomed by the youth. At that point of time, television took over the film industry. I felt at that time, I was not getting the role I wanted, now there has been a transformation. TV is going down because of internet, the programmes have become cliched and monotonous. The much awaited multiplex viewing has picked up in Andhra Pradesh and places like Proddutur also has many multiplexes. There is a change in film viewership, like films like Srimanthudu. Hats off to Mahesh, the risk he took was commendable, it was a new generation and a director’s film. His risks may not pay off everytime but it generated an intelligent workmanship. He has moved on with the times. He gave Srimanthudu a big fillip. The good times began with Bahubali, film industry became international, budgets grew, there has been success like Srimanthudu and a there is a healthy cinema like Cinema Chupistha Mava, Bhale Bhale Magadivoy that made Maruti into a top director. Subramanyam For Sale has done well too. Industry has never been so happy. Rudrama Devi has been a wonderful attempt. People are coming back to the theatres. This is the best time with senior directors delivering blockbusters, youngsters being successful and I playing a key part in the revolution. In my small way, I have tuned the audience to accept me in all sorts of roles.
Beyond movies and social life:
From the beginning I have done television, people abused me. I believe in all arts and television is also a popular medium. I didn’t get tempted and go there. I had got good offers and I never refused as I had the time. I can’t afford that kind of time now, I am next doing a play for a Broadway based company. I was offered to do the role of Robert De Nero but because of paucity of time, I am playing a cameo. I guess Telangana government is also going to be involved with it. They did not want me to leave it. I accepted it as I am also supporting stage artistes and remember my guru is Jandhyala. I have been doing a lot of social service to the artistes. I do farming, 20 acres of organic farming and am also into other corporate projects. I learnt organisation through RSS and know compartmentalisation of time and believe in build, operate and transfer. I form a good team and we share work. Last thing I am selfless, I enjoy what I do and I am generally connected to everyone. I gym, I give my time to my family, I work and party hard. I am also a workaholic, my mind keeps working while I am physically active.