Allari Naresh is one such actor in Tollywood, who never ceases to experiment in terms of acting in various genres. From comedy to drama, he has done it all and there is no second thought to it. Naresh is one of the most underrated actors and many opine that if we look at his career graph since the beginning.
In an exclusive chat with Telugu Filmnagar, Naresh speaks about his upcoming film Naandi, choices he made in his career and how things are changing in Tollywood. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
How did Naandhi happen?
Last August, director Vijay Kankamedela came up with the script after watching my role in Maharshi. He thought this film would be a turn around in my career. He believed in me as an actor and thought it was the right time to shift the genre. I heard the script and I liked it too. I thought it was very good, to me as an actor.
Later, we started collecting all the data and articles about police brutality in India. After 4 months of research, in December, we locked the script and in January we started shooting for the film.
Going naked for a scene in Telugu is a rarity. What was your thought process while making the decision?
There were few films where Rajasekhar Garu and other heroes have also gone naked for a few scenes. It all depends on the scene, that’s why I did it and it is also one of the procedures in a prison, they will make you get naked and search everything to see if you are not carrying any weapon or anything. However, my director was a little hesitant, he offered me to put on boxers but to make it look more real, I opted to go naked for the scene.
The trailer portrayed a horrific relationship between police officers and a prisoner. Do you think such brutality really happens behind the bars?
Yes, there are a lot of cases like that. For example, the recent Tamil Nadu case of Jayraj and Bennicks, but that’s only one incident. There are many incidents which do not come out to the public. Brutality has always been there. I don’t blame the entire police system but there are few corrupted officers. Some officers even torture and convince an innocent person to accept a crime they didn’t do.
You are also working on Bangaru Bullodu. Can you tell us about it?
Bangaru Bullodu is titled because I play a character who works at a pawnbroker store in the film. It is a comedy film, which is surrounded with gold, about the gold loans and the situations a goldsmith goes through in life. In a subtle way, it’s a pure comedy film with a pinch of sentiments.
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What is your quarantine routine like?
(Laughs) Nothing special! I was never a fitness freak but this quarantine has made me stop being lazy and start working out at least one hour in the morning and evening.
I’m not meeting anyone but I’m reading new scripts through mails. Also, working on the old scripts by making some simple changes. The other free time is all about Netflix, Amazon and my playstation. Those are three happy things in my life right now. Along with all that, I’m also spending quality time with my wife and daughter.
What are you binging on Netflix?
From Dark to Korean series, Crash Landing On You, I’m watching everything. Everybody was asking me if I was watching Game Of Thrones but I couldn’t answer all this while. Now, within one week, I sat and finished all the seven seasons of the series and I really liked it.
Having been in the system since childhood, besides acting, have you ever thought of directing a film? If yes, tell us more about it?
My dad and everyone dreamt that I would become a director one day. Since childhood, I have seen direction under my dad and other directors, so it is my ultimate dream to be a director one day. I want to make one good film in my life and I have been working on a few ideas, reading and writing a few scripts too. I will direct a film but I won’t act in that film.
What is the one memory with your father E.V.V. Satyanarayana that you will cherish the most?
My 16th birthday was very special to me. My dad used to be very busy shooting most of the time in Vizag, Rajahmundry or Hyderabad. So, my birthdays were never so special, nothing like a holiday or any celebrations. One day, my dad went aboard for the shoot of Adirindi Alludu for 45 days and asked me to come over. When I reached there, my dad surprised me with a cake and birthday decorations, so that is one memory which I will never forget. I was also very excited to celebrate my 16th birthday aboard too.
As an actor, what is the one element you look for in a script? Is that your role or overall story?
Everything, if I’m doing a comedy film and someone narrates me a dialogue, I should be the first to laugh. I should like it first and it should be exciting for me. The entire script should be good, it is not about just one role. For instance, when I was doing Kithakithalu, everybody said, why are you taking a fat woman like Geetha Singh to make a movie but when the film conveyed as we want and made a mark, it was all good.
Certain times, we do hear scripts and get excited. You know everybody has a different vision of the script, that doesn’t necessarily be matching to the director and actor. So, we just have to go with the gut feeling.
One of the best roles in your career is from Gamyam. What can you say about it?
All my well wishers weren’t happy when I signed the film as they said it is not right for you to play a supporting actor whereas Sharwanand is the hero in the film. But I believed in the script and the role. My favourite film is Mouna Ragam, the entire film had Mohan but small parts of Karthik in the film made a huge impact. So, I thought Gamyam would be my Mouna Ragam and I accepted the film.
My dad was very surprised. The minute he saw Gamyam, he called me and said if they had narrated this film to him, he would have never asked him to do the film. Later, he said, I did the right thing by following my gut feeling. My dad was really happy, he has done 51 films and never got a single Nandi Award or Filmfare Award, so when I got the Nandi and Filmfare Award for Gamyam, he was very happy.
Stereotyping an actor based on the genre, like you in a comedy genre. Do you think it hurts as an actor or do you think it is ok, I will just go with the flow?
It is all about money. The film is all about the producer. For Naandhi, the producer believed in me and came to me. At first, I said, it is a serious film, why are you telling it to me? But the producer believed in me and said I will be suitable for the role. So when a producer believes an actor, it gets easy. It is all about demand and supply.
Before every director used to come up with only comedy genre films, now, I’m getting 6 different genre films and 2 comedy genres. So as an actor I am happy right now. I also believed that a person who can do comedy can do any genre easily. Nevertheless, the audience took some time to accept it but after Gamyam and Shambo Shiva Shambo, things started falling in place.