Nani: I will never stop going to single screens

Pre-release interviews can get repetitive and boring. But when an actor is game to field a wider range of questions, he becomes an interviewer’s delight. On a balmy afternoon, Nani talks about Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gadha (KVPG), directed by Hanu Raghavapudi, to be released this Friday. He also answers questions on romance, with Valentine’s Day round the corner, with earnestness and a tinge of amusement when asked to dole out relationship advice.


That done, he steps aside for a chat with MetroPlus. He’s been shooting all night for Indraganti Mohanakrishna’s film. The lack of sleep and the nervousness about the impending release is evident. “When I have a film for release, for a week to 10 days I tend to zone out,” he says. He had no release in 2013 and 2014 saw his films getting a lukewarm response. He bounced back in 2015 with Yevade Subramanyam and Bhale Bhale Magadivoi. Nani has remained the same through the different phases. He isn’t the kind to get trapped with a ring of cronies, he tells us. “I didn’t grow up in Banjara Hills or Jubilee HiNani, Mehreen in Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gadhalls. I’ve always been an Ameerpet, Sanath Nagar and Balkampet person, more in touch with reality. My close friends from school, my cousins and Anju (wife Anjana) are brutally honest when they don’t like my film.”

Two successful films have meant more scripts coming to him. “I’ve always had good stories coming to me. The difference is, earlier if I had to choose from four offers, now I can choose from 14,” he says.

When Hanu Raghavapudi approached him for KVPG, he was surprised at the shift of milieu and genre from the director’s debut film, Andhala Rakshasi. KVPG took Nani to the interiors of Rayalaseema, a departure from the last few city-centric films. “Some of the locations reminded me of the terrain in which we shot Bheemili Kabaddi Jattu,” he says.

In KVPG, he plays Krishna, a coward film buff who’s madly in love with Mahalakshmi (newcomer Mehreen). “We shot in areas around Anantapur and Hindupur. The terrain gives a raw texture and colour tone to the film. These days the audience is quick to point out if, say, a house set is used repetitively. At a subconscious level, this gives a feeling that everything is made up. For this story, shooting in real locations with rocks, sand and gravel lends authenticity, along with sound that’s distinct to the region.”

In many locations, huge crowds turned up to watch the shooting. “A lot more people recognise me now,” laughs Nani. Hanu Raghavapudi, he says, was particular about the locations for even small scenes. “The entire unit would be travelling in 40 cars like a convoy for three to four hours and wonder what’s the point. But once we reach the locale, we’d understand why Hanu was particular.”

Nani remembers shooting in areas like Uravakonda where there were no hotels or lodges. Many unit members were put up at a kalyana mandapam. “Parents of one of the relatives of Srimanthudu producers are in Uravakonda. They gave me a room on the first floor of their house, opening to a terrace. I had a great time. Sounds of rickshaws and carts replaced that of city traffic and I would have dinner on the terrace under the moonlight,” he beams.

The film has three child actors — Moksha, Pratham and three-year-old Naini. “They joined us in the second schedule. We were concerned if they’d cope with the heat and the terrain. Naini, particularly, is very young and is from the US. But all the three of them had fun and their enthusiasm and energy levels rubbed on to us.”

As he winds up, he says he gets a big high watching his films in single screen theatres. “I go incognito. More than fame or remuneration, I get an unexplainable kick watching my film with a 600 or 800-strong audience. I watched films in such theatres and wanted to become an actor. I will never stop going to single screens.”

Keywords: Nani, Krishna Gadi Veera Prema Gadha, Hanu Raghavapudi