Actor Naga Chaitanya entered the web series realm with Vikram K Kumar’s supernatural thriller Dhootha. The series marks the Manam actor’s debut in long-format storytelling in the streaming space. Chaitanya has been a theatrical star since his grand debut with Josh in 2009. Coming from a film family with a long legacy, he always had to carry expectations on him. However, the actor mentions that he was free of all such baggage while making Dhootha.
“When an audience comes to the cinema expecting a certain kind of film, you can’t fool them and give something else,” he says, “I have to be a certain kind of actor over there. But I also have this other side in me that is like an alter ego; I want to try so many other things and break the structure. I have to be clever as to where I can do it. I can’t do that in the theater because I will fail. For me, an OTT platform is a great space because here an audience is in a neutral space and their comfort zone. They’re open to trying new things.”
Chaitanya has worked with director Vikram Kumar twice before. One was the family drama Manam, which saw the young star act alongside his father Nagarjuna, and grandfather, Akkineni Nageshwara Rao. The film was the latter’s final film before his passing in 2014. He has also worked with the director on last year’s critically panned Thank You. The actor said that while he was apprehensive about exploring a new space, but he gave it a chance as it was being developed by Vikram Kumar.
“I went into the narration with a 50/50 mindset that it was a supernatural thriller and that was not in my comfort zone,” he says, “I went in thinking that, ‘It’s Vikram, I’m sure it will be great but I do not know if it’ll work for me’. But I was blown away by the narration and I slept over it. The next day I called him up and told him that I was doing it. It felt like a calling for me that it was time for me to push myself and give a challenge. I have never seen myself in a supernatural thriller before or in this texture of filmmaking. That’s why there was a question mark in my head.”
While working with the same people may bring comfort, it can also lead to boredom or the process becomes predictable. Naga Chaitanya and Vikram Kumar have worked together on three stories now and have become used to each others’ styles and rhythms. They have also seen immense success and immense failure together, the latter with Thank You.
“What is going to work and what doesn't is not in our hands,” says Naga Chaithanya when asked about how they retain trust in each other after a huge failure. “You go through a journey with each film, and that’s what means a lot to me. I had been through a journey with Vikram on Manam before, and there is a trust that I formed there. Just because one film did not work, my trust is not going to break. I enjoy the journey I go through with him while making the film more than the success or failure of the film. Success is a bonus.”