Congratulations on the success of Karthikeya 2. To be honest, it did take you 8 years to make the second instalment. Will you keep your fans waiting another 8 years for the third part?
I don’t think people are going to let us do that. We never thought of Karthikeya the first part being a franchise starter, we always thought it would be a stand alone film. But l, whichever event I attended or whenever I was part of a media interaction, or in the comments section of every Instagram post, people would keep asking me, ‘When is Karthikeya 2 coming out? I was tired of explaining that Karthikeya was a stand alone film, why are we even talking about a part 2? But then, the director of the film, Chandoo Mondeti, said we will make a second part only if we get a script, which is as good as the first one, because we should never spoil a good film. And then, we hit upon this idea, when we were in Colombo and we had gone to Sitadevi Mandir. There and then, Chandoo said I’ve got Karthikeya 2 story. I asked him to narrate and on the way back, he narrated the story. That’s how the second instalment happened. But I think now, since a lot of people want to watch it, Chandoo has come up with another idea and he’s just told me a couple of days back that Karthikeya 3 will happen very very soon. I don’t know about the fans, my mother is not going to spare me if we don’t do the third part.
RRR has broken a lot of records and barriers for Indian cinema. Were you at all taken aback when it was not picked as India’s official entry to the Oscars?
I have a very strong opinion on this. I just read an article that to lobby for an Oscar, earlier Studios would spend $5 million, now the going price is $15-20 million, only to lobby to get votes for your film. What is the point? We have our own National Awards, we have our own Filmfare Awards, and so many awards are given by our Indian Government. The best reward and award RRR can get is the box office numbers and the public’s love. It was a fantastic film. The Kashmir Files was a fantastic film and they have already been awarded by the love that they have received. Those two movies really touched me and for me personally, if you get an Oscar, good, but that shouldn’t be the end all and be all. Not every film is made for the Oscars. It’s not a certificate, I don’t think we need that.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To be able to know who a person really is, to be able to judge them and read their mind. If you know who the person really is, I can spot the next SS Rajamouli, I can spot the next big script. I wish had the power to study who the person really is.
What is biggest strength of the following stars:
Shah Rukh Khan
Pure talent, Raw talent.
Samantha Ruth Prabhu
A great strong human being. Because the way she has come up from nothing, to become such a big superstar, she is very strong.
The big thing in India right now.
Which according to you is your most underrated film?
The film which could have become a very big hit, but didn’t not reach its potential was the movie ‘Keshava’. I fell sick in between, I had dengue and I couldn’t concentrate on the film too much. But it could’ve easily become a very big hit.
Who according to you is the finest entertainer of all time?
Amitabh Bachchan, I loved him in Sholay. He made me cry as a kid, and then Bombay To Goa, I laughed and enjoyed. He is the brand ambassador of Indian Cinema.
Have you ever had a crush on your co-star?
Not on my co-star, but on others’ co-stars. I had a huge crush on Bhumika Chawla, because she was “wow’, one of the most beautiful women then and even now.
Not too many people know that you are married, and that your better half is not from the industry…
Yes, Pallavi is a doctor, she is practicing on-line. She helps people get online treatment. I met her at a friends birthday and it just happened. I am very happily married. I think I am becoming a better actor also, I am able to perform better because I have so much emotional support at home through Pallavi.
Was it easier to get married to someone who is not from the industry?
Honestly, the easiest thing is to fall in love with someone from the industry, because you work together, she will know you and all that. But, somewhere I think when I met Pallavi, I felt she was the right one. I was not ready for marriage, I just wanted to keep doing films. I was partying my way through my life, then I met her and things changed.
Commercial success or artistic pleasure? What would you choose and why?
Everyone would want both of that, but I think commercial success is more satisfying. With the numbers coming in, the budgets for the next film increase, and you can do a better film, so commercial success much more.
Would you be open to doing Hindi films?
I have been getting a lot of calls from production houses in Mumbai and I really respect that. I have been meeting them but, I have not signed anything yet. The next two films that I am going to do are going to be partnered with some really big production houses in Hindi. They will be backing the Hindi version of the film.
Who are the directors on your bucket list that you would love to work with?
SS Rajamouli. I wish that someone would appear in his dream and tell him, cast Nikhil right now, but I know it’s not possible, because he is so busy for the next few years, and every actor in the world wants to work with him. Rajkumar Hirani as well. I would love to work with him because I love his kind of films. 3 Idiots was a film that changed my way of looking at education and it was meaningful cinema and with entertainment.
One thing you’d want to change about the film industry?
I would love to change many things from the industry, but I do not have the power to. The culture of auditions for a particular role is very necessary, because there is so much talent out there, directors, actors, that is how I came through. I auditioned and made it among 1.2 lakh people. I think opportunities must be given to everyone.