I had no difficulty playing both a teenager and a married man in Majili: Naga Chaitanya
The 32-year-old actor is gearing up for the release of his upcoming film Majili, which has him playing the vulnerable, but intense Poorna
Actor Naga Chaitanya has just returned from a visit to Tirumala with his wife, actor Samantha Akkineni. "I'm agnostic, but I visited the temple as Samantha asked me to accompany her,” he starts off the conversation.
The 32-year-old actor, who stole hearts as Vikram in Premam (2016), is gearing up for the release of his upcoming film Majili, which has him playing the vulnerable, but intense Poorna. “It’s quite a challenging role. He is someone who appears emotionally-battered, tries to face his own demons, and is fierce by nature. One might fail several times before becoming successful. But failures make you stronger and wiser. Majili charts the story of a youngster who tries to get over this emotional upheaval, and mend his heart for someone and something important in his life,” says Chay.
“I enjoyed watching Shiva Nirvana’s Ninnu Kori and was moved by its climax. He brought out the many layers of a love story in a mature fashion. His attention to detail was evident on screen. One day, I called Shiva and asked if he had got any story on similar lines. He came with the script of Majili after two months and it took me just 20 minutes to give my nod for the film,” he recalls.
Portions of the flashback show him as a cricketer and the actor says the inputs of his brother and actor, Akhil Akkineni made it easier for him to shoot these sequences. “I’m a novice in the sport and don’t know how to hold a cricket bat. I sought Akhil’s help and he gave me some cricketing tips. I also interacted with several professional cricketers and trained with Satish, a former Ranji cricketer, to perfect my skills in the sport,” shares Chay.
Talking about how Samantha came on board, he says, “I didn’t know that Shiva would cast Sam opposite me. I was impressed with the way he fleshed out and styled the three lead characters — Poorna, Sravani and Anshu. While we were discussing who should play Sravani, it was Shiva who felt Sam would be appropriate for that role. As Sam and I were also looking forward to working in an honest film without worrying about commercial aspects, I had no qualms either.”
Getting the opportunity to work with his wife in a romance is something Chay treasures. “It is an intense story and each frame has something for the viewer. Sam and I play a couple, and it shows a different perspective in a relationship. Since I knew Sam’s body language and working style, everything went on well. The climax sequence required a lot of effort as it was only us in that shot. But Shiva gave the scene papers well in advance, and it helped us pull off those scenes. Going forward, if we come across a story as novel as Majili, we will definitely do it,” explains the Shailaja Reddy actor.
Chay says that he gives complete freedom to his directors and declares that he is a secure actor. “I am a director’s actor. Once the script is locked, I never interfere in direction. In Majili, Shiva was clear about how my character, Poorna, would behave and look in each scene, and so I had no difficulty in playing both a 19-year-old youngster and a married man,” he adds.
He will next be seen in director Bobby’s Venky Mama, which has him sharing screen space with his maternal uncle and actor, Venkatesh. “It was fun to work with mama (Venkatesh) and he is really cool on sets. As an actor, it’s difficult to match up to his potential. I’m still trying to hold my own in that film. Besides that, a project under Dil Raju’s production is in discussions and Bangarraju, a sequel to Soggade Chinni Nayana with dad (Nagarjuna) as the other lead is also in the pipeline. If everything goes as planned, Bangarraju will go on floors in August. I am trying to diversify the roles I play and want to do more honest films,” concludes Chay.