I’m Open to Exploring Different Genres If They Are Commercially Viable: Naveen Polishetty

Naveen Polishetty talks about his priorities while selecting a script, meeting Anushka Shetty for the first time, and his love for comedy in an interview
I’m Open to Exploring Different Genres If They Are Commercially Viable: Naveen Polishetty

Actor Naveen Polishetty began his career in the field of comedy. After featuring in many short films, and comedy sketches in Hindi, he made his debut as a lead with Telugu film Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya (2019), a comedy, which went on to become a commercial success. After starring in films like Chhichhore (2019) in Hindi and Jathi Ratnalu (2021), the actor will next be seen in yet another comedy, Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty (2023) directed by Mahesh Babu P. The film sees him play a happy-go-lucky standup comic alongside Anushka Shetty’s determined chef. 

Ahead of the film’s release, the actor spoke to Film Companion about the success of his previous films, the pressures of choosing the right script, and more. Excerpts from an interview:

You’ve spoken about this a lot of times, but tell us about how you tackle pressure from family. How do your parents look at the fame you’ve achieved?

My Parents are very happy. In the early days of my career, they used to be very disappointed with what I was trying to do. After completing my education, I immediately followed my passion and went straight to Mumbai to give auditions. They used to worry about my career every day. They were unable to answer relatives and friends who questioned my career and earnings. The “relatives mafia” and societal pressure still have an effect on me. Even now, they ask me about my next film, my marriage plans and earnings. But I think this is common for everyone, especially those who want to achieve something with their passion. 

Anushka-Naveen in Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty
Anushka-Naveen in Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty

What was your first thought when you were told that you’ll be sharing screen space with Anushka Shetty? And tell us about the first time you met her.

I was very excited. I have watched many of her films and have enjoyed her performances in Arundhathi (2009), the Baahubali films and Bhaagamathie (2018). Our film is about two very different characters and the chemistry that they share. So, it was very important for our chemistry to work perfectly. 

I met her for the first time on set when she was shooting her first shot. As she was returning to face the camera after a long gap, I wanted to be there, even if I didn’t have to shoot that day. I went to the set, surprised her and wished her. I gave her a note with a message written on it, had a small conversation with her and cracked a few jokes. The second time I met her, it was also the day she had completed 17 years in the industry. I took a cake to the set and we all celebrated. Shooting this film has really been an enjoyable journey.

Naveen Polishetty in
Naveen Polishetty in

As you’ve gained an Identity as someone who makes people laugh, do you think you’re running the risk of being restricted to a specific genre such as comedy?

As long as you find something fresh in a character you choose, there won’t be any such risks or doubts. I played the role of an intelligent detective in Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya, which required me to hold a very strong emotion, apart from just humour. You won’t see that in Jathi Ratnalu. My character in Jathi Ratnalu has very low IQ levels and my job in that film was to entertain throughout. Both these films entertain with comedy, but the difference is in how they express emotions. It’s all about the newness we try to bring within the entertainment space.

As cinema is ultimately business, I need to prioritise the safety of my producers, distributors and exhibitors as they are investing in me. So, more than focusing on my personal recognition, I need to do films that would work at the box office. The film must look exciting for the audience who are buying a ticket. That doesn’t mean that I will only do entertaining roles all the time. I’m open to exploring new genres of films that look commercially viable. I listened to the script of a periodic drama recently, which I might do next. I also love action comedy films. 

I believe that if we convey a point with a touch of humour, it reaches and engages a wider audience. Take Rajkumar Hirani sir’s films. Every film of his is a super hit. I’d love to do different subjects while not avoiding humour at any point. 

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