MAA President Naresh VK: I will not bow down to any external pressure
The actor and president of Movie Artists Association talks about recent controversies, his films and career
Actor Naresh VK grew up in a film background. His mother, the late Vijaya Nirmala, was one of the most prolific personalities of Telugu cinema and she entered Guinness Book of Records in 2002 for being the female director to make the most number of films.
Naresh has always been passionate about films. The 59-year-old-actor will be seen playing Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu, the father of Telugu cinema, in the eponymous biopic directed by Babji. He calls it a dream-come-true. "Over the years, Telugu cinema has evolved in many exciting ways. Our filmmakers are making films that cut across regional lines and appeal to audiences across the country. But it was Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu and his unparalleled love for cinema that popularised the medium across the region. He laid the foundation stone for the industry in the South by setting up a studio, building a theatre in Chennai, and producing silent films in the 1920s. I take immense pride in playing this iconic character," begins Naresh, as he discusses what went into the making of this biopic.
Excerpts from a conversation:
What was the most exciting thing about Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu?
My mother received the Raghupathi Venkaiah award for her lifetime contribution to Telugu cinema. It was then I saw the statue of this towering personality and was awed by his achievements. His passion for cinema and the years of struggle before his gaining popularity are inspirational. His story has life, drama and emotions. Understanding my inclination to work in Raghupathi Venkaiah's biopic, director Babji and producer Mandava Satish offered me the role.
How did you prepare for this character?
We did not have any videos for our reference. We just had some pictures and through those, we tried to visualise how he would stand, walk, and behave. I did my homework to understand his transformation from a common man to the father of Telugu cinema. Being an actor, I have internalised the character and have shed a few kilos to look the part. I believe Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu will be the best film in my career.
Does that mean you will be more choosy in your roles from now?
I have seen enough success in my career. I've never chased money or fame. I am glad to have played all kind of characters on-screen and I want to continue my successful run as a good 'character' actor.
Rajasekhar and Jeevitha's panel accused you of splitting the Movie Artists Association (MAA)
It's been 26 years since MAA was formed. All these years, I have been contributing my services to the association in various capacities. I have already declared that I will contest in the elections only for this term. MAA is not a political outfit. Chiranjeevi garu founded it with the objective to bring all the artists of Telugu cinema under one roof. The association, which was formed to protect the self-esteem of the artistes, has been providing financial, medical and other relief to poor artistes and persons belonging to weaker sections.
There is no denying that some inconsistencies among the members led to misunderstanding and bitterness. As the president of MAA, I promise that I will not bow down to any external pressure and do my best to carry forward the legacy.
The support of Chiranjeevi, Krishnam Raju, Mohan Babu and Murali Mohan has been the strength of the association. I am still recovering from the demise of my mother. But I will not let my personal loss affect my work. Serving and protecting the association is my top priority now.