Edited excerpts from an interview between Baradwaj Rangan and Nani.
The nepotism debate is big in Bollywood, but not so much in the Southern industries. What do you feel about it? The Telugu film industry in particular is very closed with four or five families having a stake on everything. Is there a special sense of achievement when you think that you’ve cracked that industry?
The special feeling will naturally be there. See star kids have their set of advantages and disadvantages. They’re all my friends and I know the pressure they go through. But I do have a special sense of achievement. When somebody comes and tells me they love my work, I know for sure that they love my work…it’s not my dad’s work or my family’s. It’s not coming from a space where they had to like my work. For every compliment that comes my way I can take 100 per cent credit for it. That’s something special. Then again, I know a lot of star kids who have not made it and I’m not saying their lives are all comfortable.
But don’t you think the door opens a little easier for them?
But again that comes with expectations. They are expected to deliver right from their first movie. Like you said, I think my sense of achievement will be much, much higher though.
You’re called the Natural Star now. Who came up with that name?
I’m totally against these tags. As an AD I used to joke around a lot about such tags. I’m from Ameerpet so I know the reality of what people think when a tag gets added onto a name. Putting the term ‘Natural Star’ on screen started with Balle Balle Magadivoy. It’s director Maruthi coined it. But even before that, in Samuthirakani’s film, he had called me a Natural Actor. Maruthi made that into star and put it up in the film. Even the media always addressed me as the natural actor. So when Maruthi asked me, I said no. But then again, that was a fun film. When you add Natural Star to such a film, I thought it would bring a smile. It’s about a forgetful person anyway. Also I thought it wasn’t a forced title. It just continued from there on.
So that’s how you became the natural star?
Whenever I hear people call me that I feel a bit awkward. Initially I was very uncomfortable with the whole idea, but I guess I’m OK with it.