Nagarjuna: Manam is simple and beautiful
It’s not often that one sees three generation of actors from the same family acting in a film.
Thespian Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR), his son Akkineni Nagarjuna and his grandson Chaitanya Akkineni will be seen together in Mana, directed by Vikram Kumar.
Unfortunately, ANR passed away before the film could be released.
Premieres of the film in the United States and in Hyderabad are scheduled for today, though the film is officially releasing in India on May 23.
Nagarjuna took time off to talk about Manam, his father role in it and his own new TV show (the Telugu version of KBC, titled Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu.
What was the whole experience of doing Manam?
After seeing Chaitanya in 100 % Love (2011) my father said we could all do a film together. He also said we should do it fast.
We heard many stories but they were the same grandfather, son, grandson ones. Then Sudhakar Reddy (actor Nithiin’s father), who is a good friend of mine, said he had heard a good story by Vikram (who was filming Ishq with Nithiin).
I heard the story and I liked it but Vikram told me it would take a year to develop.
I told Raghavendra Rao?? garu that the premise was complicated. He said to simplify the premise.
Then Vikram, Harshavardhan and others sat and worked on it. Harsha wrote the dialogues.
After the script was finished, Vikram gave me a two-and-a-half hour narration. He gave a six-hour detailed narration to my dad, who asked him to simplify it and said the thatha-manavadu (grandfather-grandson) comedy would be accepted by Telugu audiences. So that comedy was added and the film started.
The film spans the years from the 1920s to 2013. There are lots of changes in people, lots of get-ups.
The magic happens around a clock tower. So we wanted a good cinematographer. P C Sreeram was busy so, we got P S Vinod.
With Vikram and the assistant directors we came up with the following lines regarding Manam: ‘Manam is a sign that things have changed and our sorrows and joys have been exchanged; Night and day, morning and evening, a movement of souls united in being, cosmic beings rearranged.’
Some things may go wrong in one’s life but they are corrected in the other life. The universe and nature correct the mistakes made in one life, in the other. This may seem complex but we have explained it in a simple manner so that everyone can understand it.
'My only regret is that my father did not live to see the final product'
Is the film inspired by any film or event?
No, it’s Vikram’s creation.
Whenever I have done a film keeping aside the box office and calculations, it has done well.
As a producer, hero and artiste, Manam gives me complete fulfilment.
My only regret is that my father did not live to see the final product.
How did the title Manam come about?
Vikram came up with the Hindi title Hum (us) and later we changed it to Telugu Manam.
Is Manam complicated?
One may think it is. But if you see it, you will be riveted. It is simple and beautiful.
There is the rebirth concept. Souls are united at the same spot. The characters are connected.
There have been reincarnation films like Magadheera and Arundhati.
My father did one based on this concept and I have acted in Janaki Ramudu. However, in those films they are reborn for a purpose. In Manam there is no such purpose.
Image: Nagarjuna in Manam
'We created the role for Amitabh Bachchan in a short time and he did it'
What is your role like?
I am there in the 1920s, 1980s and 2013. In the 1920s, I play a zamindar. P S Vinod has filmed the green fields and created the atmosphere well.
My father makes his appearance just before the interval and is there till the last frame.
How did you work in Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo in Manam?
My father liked him a lot. After my father passed away, we wanted to honour his last film.
We wanted to have the greatest Indian actor in Manam. When I asked him, he said it would be his honour to act in ANR’s film.
We created the role for him in a short time and he did it.
The titles show the Akkineni family as producers...
He taught us the importance of the family in his last days. So we named it as Akkineni family and not Nagarjuna.
Image: Nagarjuna, Naga Chaitanya and Akkineni Nageswara Rao in Manam
'Chaitanya has improved a lot as an actor'
You chose not to have an event for the audio release...
We did not hold an audio function as it was not the right time.
If we hold such an event, fans expect something from us at the venue.
We are going through emotional times and we felt we could not do such a thing.
Has Chaitanya improved in his acting?
Of course he has improved. After directing Chaitanya in 100 % Love, director Sukumar said that he has a lot of potential. He has done the intoxication scenes very well.
Is Akhil a part of the film?
He is not in the film. He came to the sets because it was the final days of the shoot.
Image: Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya in Manam
'My television show Meeru Evaru Koteeswarudu will change the lives of many'
What are your future projects?
My film with Mani Ratnam has been shelved.
I will be doing a film with NTR (Jr) under Vamsi Paidipally’s direction. NTR said he would only do the film if I liked the story. I share a good rapport with NTR and said I would do it.
Are you producing any other films?
Oka Laila Kosam (in which Chaitanya is acting) is being produced under our banner.
We will also be producing another movie with Rammohan (after Uyyala Jumpala).
You will be making your debut on television with Meeru Evaru Koteeswarudu...
The show will go on air from June 9. I am looking forward to the show as it will change the lives of many.
I have the opportunity to interact with many people and I have to draw them out to share their dreams.
My job is to make them win money and change their lives and not make them lose.
I asked Amitabh Bachchanji about it. He advised me ‘Do it. You will love it. It will change your life.’
Image: A scene from Manam