Chennai, 1 May 2014(Indilens Web Team): With the universal celebration of May Day, Tamil movie actor Ajith…
He doesn’t like being called a star and prefers the term, actor. During the course of conversation, NTR mentions he’s happier without the baggage that comes with being a star and is happy witnessing the slow, gradual change in Telugu cinema through films like Pellichoopulu and Manamantha. Excerpts from the interview:
There’s a shift in the kind of films you’ve been doing of late. Is this a result of gradual change or was there a trigger?
I feel change doesn’t happen with a particular incident; it happens over time after being triggered by something. For me, it happened when my career got a slap. A few films I worked on before Nannaku Prematho didn’t give me the results I expected, both at the box office and satisfaction as an actor. There is nothing that we, actors, can do about being caught in number games. It’s sad, but there’s no escaping it. At the end of the day, despite box office results, I want to be happy doing a film. I started searching for my happiness and maybe that shows in the films I do today.
Do you look for longevity of films and characters you play?
I want to be remembered as an actor, not a star. I’m happy without the baggage that comes with being a star. We tend to think that the audience wants to see us in certain roles, but they are open to watching us in good films. They liked me in Nannaku Prematho, which veered away from formula. Every Friday a new film comes by and I don’t know how many of my films will be remembered years later. I want to be happy with the work I do. You are finally left with memories; memories of working with good people and memories of the audience liking a film and saying that you’ve done a good job.
Koratala Siva pitched Janatha Garage to you two years ago. What was it that you liked about the story?
The beauty of Janatha Garage is no actor can dominate the film. Neither me, nor Mohanlal. We are all actors doing our parts for the larger concept called Janatha Garage. It’s a place where anything and everything is repaired, from vehicles to relationships. Siva told me about this story when I was doing Rabhasa. When you hear a good story or a conversation, it stays with you sub-consciously. With Janatha Garage, I realised I needed to reach a stage as an actor where I should be able to do justice to its concept. Temper and Nannaku Prematho made me ready for this film. I want to reach a stage where I am not inhibited to take up a film I like. My only fear is I shouldn’t end up spoiling a film.
Environmental concern and the need to preserve lung spaces in the city is a part of the story. How does the film convey this without getting preachy?
Siva does a good job of communicating a message. He’s done that in his previous films as well. He conveys his point neatly, with a certain film grammar. The message is not forced upon the audience. He is a fabulous writer first and then a director who can execute that writing. Talking of the concern for nature, I feel we should respect nature. It’s something that has to be ingrained in us since childhood. I am trying to do that with my son Abhay. When we got talking about nature and its power, we realised how small we are. How long will it take for 3/4 of water to take over 1/4 land on earth?
What did you learn from working with Mohanlal?
I don’t think I can even begin to fathom what a fabulous actor he is.
Are you an instinctive actor?
I believe acting cannot be taught. For instance, if there’s a scene in the film where someone close to you dies, how do you imagine a situation like that when you haven’t faced it in reality? How do you teach someone to cry, laugh or smile with all his heart? Acting is a reflection of how each person interprets a situation and responds to it.
At home, do you discuss work with your wife Pranathi?
My wife doesn’t talk about my films at all. She is a hard working person, a responsible mother and has dreams for herself.
She talks to me about other films, not mine, which is good. When you constantly analyse and criticise your own work, you don’t realise the world is larger than you. She is my information box when it comes to films.
How has fatherhood changed you?
I used to be a hyper kid. I’ve become calmer, feel responsible and more practical. I was a terrible, mischievous kid prone to creating trouble. Abhay is a naughty child, too. With Abhay, I’ve learnt the importance of appreciating the present. I don’t want to sit here and crib about the past.