Edited excerpts from an interview between Baradwaj Rangan and Nagarjuna.
Manmadhudu 2 is a film that is being made at a time when your children are acting, and their generation is very different from when you were their age and acting in movies like Geethanjali or all those love stories. How do you keep yourself attuned to the tastes of newer generations?
I am still under thirty. That’s the way I think, I’m very clear about it. Maybe I just think young and I am born like that. I am very comfortable with people half my age. In fact I’m not very comfortable with people my age, because all they talk about it health issues. They talk about their waistline, and they’ll talk about what medicines they are taking. I get very very disinterested. That’s not what I want to talk about. Fortunately I have two or three very good friends and we never talk about this. What multivitamins you are taking or what you’re doing in the evening. The most irritating thing people tell me is, “You look so young”. I am young. Maybe that’s my attitude. So I am very comfortable when these youngsters tell me how they worked out or what they did in the morning and these great new ideas they have—that is what I am interested in. They’ll tell me about what new gadget is out, which I would have never known, or how they are using it. If I am using my iPhone, they’ll teach me how to use it better. So that interests me a lot.
So young and curious mind results in a young body, is that it?
You manifest into your body. Your mind manifests into your body, that’s what I think.
Your character Manmadhudu 2 is talking about making love today. Back in the day when you made Geethanjali even a kiss was a big thing. So when you got a song sequence that entirely revolved around a kiss and a fairly unbroken shot, what was it like? You are an actor and you’re faced with something that probably no hero before you had done. It was a generation where, people when they want to kiss, they showed the back of the face.
Or one flower on top. They go behind a bush and the whole bush shakes. That’s what ticked me off. I used to laugh out loud, seeing something like that. Or one honeybee landing on a flower. When Mani Ratnam asked me, “you’re okay?”. I said “I’m glad you asked me, I am okay. But is the girl okay?”. And she was okay. Only thing I was nervous was that the censor guys would cut it. “Mani we’re shooting this but what about the censors, they don’t see these kind of things in Indian films, and that too Telugu films. They’re conservative. They are going to cut it,” I told him. That’s what I was very worried about. I told my father also before him seeing the show. I told my mom and dad that “there is a kissing sequence but it’s very aesthetically done, and I am telling you before,” because they also haven’t seen it, they don’t know. My father saw it and he said “it’s the most beautiful part of the film”, that’s what he told me. And I remember telling him that I am a little worried about the censor. My father told me “if that man has ever been in love, he’ll let it go, don’t worry”, that’s what he told me. So that’s what happened, we got a UA, it was okay.
So what would you think your father would say about Manmadhudu 2?
My father was a naughty man. He used to always crack jokes and all of that. So he would have not said anything to me, but I know he would have smiled.