I wish Manmadhudu 2 enables young directors to write new stories for me: Nagarjuna Akkineni
The actor opens up about his upcoming romcom Manmadhudu 2, a remake of the 2006 French film, Prete-Moi Ta Main
Nagarjuna Akkineni is all set for the release of his upcoming romcom Manmadhudu 2, a remake of the 2006 French film Prete-Moi Ta Main. He is back in a romantic avatar as Sam, a perfumer based in Portugal.
“The film promises wholesome entertainment with a dose of romance, drama and humour. The story revolves around a middle-aged bachelor, who hails from a third generation Telugu family settled in Portugal. He is surrounded by his mother and three sisters, and doesn’t want any kind of serious relationship in his life. Upon the insistence of his mother, he gets married to a girl in her 20s,” says Nagarjuna, adding, “Although the film is set in Portugal, the characters don’t speak English as they are comfortable in Portuguese and Telugu. I feel I have spoken pure Telugu in this film after Annamayya as you will see me saying words like pratipadana and subha madhyahnam. In Portugal, there’s a place called Cassandra, but we started calling it Cass‘andhra’ as a majority of Telugus live there (laughs).”
Quiz him on the one point that impressed him and made him decide to work on this remake, and he explains, “I immediately loved the lead actor and all the other characters in the French film. I felt it's a universal story with all the commercial ingredients that one would expect in a romantic entertainer, and would be apt for my body of work. I wish this film enables young directors to write new stories for me and also helps me take up new kinds of roles.”
On choosing Rahul Ravindran as the director, he says, “I watched his debut directorial Chi La Sow and liked the sensibilities. I was impressed with the way he conceptualised and executed that light-hearted love story with a dash of humour. So I decided Rahul was the right man to direct this film. He adapted the story to our nativity and incorporated a few scenes keeping my image and his style of filmmaking in mind.”
Does he feel any jitters ahead of the day of the release? “It is quite natural for anyone to be nervous about the release. I would say I have butterflies in my stomach as the release date approaches by.”
After Malliswari (2004), perhaps Manmadhudu 2 is the only film that has jokes being cracked about the age of the protagonist. “When the lead actor is older, you have to deal with such jokes. It was really fun to play Sam and you will enjoy watching me going through all these in the film," says Nagarjuna.
While he showered praises on director K Vijay Bhasker, Nagarjuna did not mention Trivikram Srinivas, who provided the story and dialogues for his 2002 runaway hit Manmadhudu, during his speech at the pre-release gig of his upcoming film. “Vijay Bhaskar not only narrated the script of Manmadhudu but also worked closely with me. Hence, I spoke about him,” he explains. Ask him why he didn’t bring the ace writer’s credit forward, he dodges and quips, “Next question, please?”
Nagarjuna is receiving accolades for turning up as a charismatic host in the third season of popular Telugu reality show, Bigg Boss. “I enjoy being the host of Bigg Boss, but I cannot imagine how the inmates are managing without talking to the outside world in a locked house. I don’t think I can stay there for two-three days...sharing my bed or bathroom with anyone else apart from my wife. Hosting this show made me understand how a person changes so much in a week’s time.”
Speaking about his much-waited Bagarraju, the sequel to his 2016 blockbuster, Soggade Chinni Nayana, the 59-year-old actor shares, “The shoot would have begun by now, but we had put the project on hold due to the demise of director Kalyan Krishna’s brother. I don’t want him to rush things for me and have decided to wait until he is ready.”
The King actor is also returning to Hindi cinema after 15 years with the Ayan Mukerji-directorial Brahmastra, in a special role. “Brahmastra was wonderful from the moment it came to me and my character is one of the pillars of the narrative. I have already shot a few days and will soon start shooting for the remaining portions,” he says.
So, does he have plans to expand his market outside Telugu cinema? “I have done four-five bilinguals, but all of them bombed at the box office. I think the trend to work in a film for two different cultures has not worked in my favour and I don't think I have the leverage to expand my horizons. I am happy to be associated with Telugu cinema and will continue doing diverse genres here.” signs off Nagarjuna.