‘My film with Trivikram has made me a better person’
...says an emotional Jr NTR as he opens up about the tragedy of his father passing away, while discussing his upcoming film, Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava
“My 12-year dream has been fulfilled with Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava (ASVR),” begins Jr NTR, as he recalls his association with director Trivikram Srinivas. “I have known him even before he directed Nuvve Nuvve, but we were not in a hurry to do a film. I have always had faith in him because he’s a wonderful storyteller,” he says.
The actor notes that the film’s curious title — Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava — is apt for the story. “Anger, after all, is one of the nine main emotions (Navarasalu)." Quoting a line from the film, the actor adds, "Yuddham chese satha lenodiki... shanti adige hakku ledhu (If you can’t muster courage for war, you have no right to demand peace). You will be able to find a solution only if you see the bitter side of life. We have seen many films based on this idea, but the treatment and the solution shown here will be quite unique," says the 35-year-old actor.
In the upcoming film, NTR plays Veera Raghava, a man from the Rayalaseema region. “I mastered the Rayalaseema dialect and would like to thank Penchal Das for helping me out. My assistant is from Rayalaseema and he was thrilled to see me speak the dialogues. I think the Rayalaseema and Telangana dialects bear a lot of similarity in phonology and grammar,” he says.
While on similarities, he notes that the film resonated a lot with his own life. “I have acted in 28 films and none of them showed me lighting a funeral pyre, but this film did. The much-talked-about Penimiti song is a strange coincidence too. When Thaman made me listen to the song some four months ago, I realised it is Trivikram’s mark,” he says. “Had I insisted on a dance number, I would have lost Penimiti. We shot this song after my dad’s demise. When I was shooting, I could relate to it and recollected how tormented all of us were — especially my mother. Not I think everyone will relate to this song that speaks of a woman’s agony through a man’s voice.”
NTR’s father, Nandamuri Harikrishna, passed away recently, and the actor couldn't hold back tears at the audio release of the film. “Everything happened in a flash and we weren't prepared at all. It was really tough to believe. We are all learning to cope. As a husband, son, father, grandfather and a socially responsible person, my father lived a full life. He always said that life is transient and that none of us are above it. I'm trying to unload a lot of (emotional) baggage. How was I to know that my father, who left at 4:30am, would never come back?” asks an emotional NTR.
That’s when Trivikram, he says, rallied by his side. “We call each other Swamy and we continue to work together. The film’s story has influenced me so much that I have become a better person, both personally and professionally.”
I ask about road accidents having caused much agony to the Nandamuri family. NTR doesn’t make much of it. “I'm neither spiritual nor fearful of such patterns. One should be careful, but not fearful. We are seeing hundreds die in air disasters, but do we stop flying?” he asks.
Trivikram himself is going through a bit of a lean patch following the failure of Agnyaathavaasi. NTR doesn’t think too much of that. “All of us have the pressure to succeed. As an actor or a director, we have constant pressure to live up to expectations. But we don't worry about success and failure. Rather, we enjoy the journey.”
NTR likens a director and an actor’s relationship to that of a marital relationship. “A director is an actor’s first audience and an actor is the face of the director’s vision. I think I’ve impressed my director with my work in Aravindha Sametha…”
What’s the biggest takeaway for him from this film? “It’s tough to answer. I have had a lot of memories with my director, co-actors and of course, there’s the Penimiti song,” he says.
At a time when South cinema is entertaining sequels, NTR hopes to do one for Adhurs (2010). “I think it would be a great idea and I’m waiting for it to happen. Let’s see how things work out,” signs off NTR.