When it comes to Hindi films, veteran actor Nagarjuna says he always looks for an experience that satisfies his soul and it is the reason why he took up Brahmastra Part One: Shiva after many years of absence from Bollywood. The actor returns to Hindi cinema after close to two decades with a cameo appearance in Ayan Mukerji-directed fantasy adventure epic, led by Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.
“I was getting incredible roles. (But) I am kind of a home bird. I like to live in Hyderabad. I always did very special roles in Bollywood. Whatever I have done right from the beginning, it was important for me to entertain people. All the roles that I did come looking for me, I never (went for them).
“Here working in Bollywood, I look at it for experience and soul satisfaction as they call it and doing roles which are not on my shoulders. It has always been like that,” the 63-year-old star, who acted in Bollywood movies like Shiva, Khuda Gawah, Criminal and Zakhm, told PTI in an interview.
His last release was JP Dutta’s war drama LOC: Kargil (2003).
In Brahmastra, which has raised over Rs 300 crore in gross box office collection worldwide since its release on September 9, Nagarjuna features as an artist named Anish Shetty, who holds the power of the ‘Nandi Astra’.
The film is the first in an ambitiously planned trilogy, which will mark the beginning of a new cinematic universe, titled “The Astraverse”.
Nagarjuna said he chose to do this film because he saw it as a “rare opportunity” that came at a time when there’s a growing exchange of talent across various film industries in India.
“A film like Brahamastra is the right opportunity. The bridges have opened up and so everyone is going everywhere. And India has become one industry and that is how it should be because Indian people love films and cricket. I am so happy that this film helped the industry grow and actors are getting to do different roles in different languages,” he added.
Nagarjuna recalled that Mukerji offered him Brahmastra in 2018 but he had a condition before saying yes to it.
“When I was told Ayan wants me to play a role in his film, I said sure but what am I going to be doing in a film like that? And I won’t do it if it doesn’t work for me. It is not about the length, it has to work for me in my heart.
“Ayan came to Hyderabad and explained the whole thing and he had got a book, like a little comic book, every frame was done. Every page of the book was there, nothing less, nothing more,” he said.
What got Nagarjuna most interested in Brahamstra was that it took him back to his days of watching mythological shows on television.
He reminisced that he grew up watching Ramayana and Mahabharata and a lot of folklore films.
“I had seen in ‘Maharabharata’ where they had used these astras in the war and that interested me. I also read a lot of Chitra Katha comics when I was young.
“When he was telling me all these things, I was happy that somebody in India is making this. It took me back to all those memories. And it didn’t take long for me to say yes.” Shooting for the movie, loaded with visual effects, Nagarjuna said it turned out to be a unique experience as he had to keep his imagination open whenever his character exhibited his superpowers.
“For a sequence, Ayan said there will be some kind of charge forming around me, the eyes will become blue. And as I am running, I need to build up my speed as there will be a bull rising from the ground behind me. He explained all of this,” he said.
Asked about the many fan theories surrounding his character, including a plea for a spin-off movie, Nagarjuna said the project hasn’t been discussed yet.
“I am glad people have liked the character, which came at the right time in the film and hence it was so impactful,” he added.
Backed by Star Studios, Dharma Productions, Brahmastra: Part One Shiva also features Amitabh Bachchan and Mouni Roy.
“RRR” director S S Rajamouli presents the movie in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages.
Nagarjuna said he has been waiting for an opportunity to collaborate with Rajamouli, known for blockbusters such as Magadheera, Eega, Baahubali films and RRR.
“I keep asking and taunting Rajamouli about making a film with me and he would always laugh. When the time comes, it will happen. When Rajamouli writes, then he goes for his actors. But he has to figure out the script first,” the actor said.