“Thank You is a beautiful film about human emotions and the words ‘thank you’,” says Naga Chaitanya
Actor Naga Chaitanya, who was in Bengaluru recently, talks about taking forward his family legacy, his next film, Thank You, and a lot more, in an exclusive interview
When Naga Chaitanya or Chay, as he is fondly called, arrived for a store launch in Bengaluru, it caused traffic jams, as several fans, particularly young women, thronged the roads leading up to the venue. When he turned up at the store, the 35-year-old Telugu actor proved to be quite the head-turner with his pencil moustache and maroon kurta teamed with white pyjamas. What makes Chay so loveable is not just his looks but also his filmography which includes several romantic flicks such as Premam, Majili, Ye Maaya Chesave, and Love Story and family dramas like Bangarraju and Venky Mama in which he has played the perfect hero.
Of late, it’s his personal life that’s kept him in the news. Ever since his separation and eventual divorce from fellow actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu in October 2021, the duo has been making headlines for various reasons, although they have been quite vocal about keeping their issues private. As an important part of the illustrious Akkineni film family, the scion has had to deal with being in the spotlight for all kinds of reasons. However, the maturity and sensibility that he showcases while dealing with such attention — good or bad — makes him quite the star.
While in Bengaluru, the actor spoke with Indulge about work, fashion and his next film, in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
You are quite a fashionable man and we’ve seen you sport different looks. What made you agree to partner with an ethnic brand?
When I was approached by Tasva (designer Tarun Tahiliani’s brand, which the actor was in Bengaluru to launch) the first thing I did was, browse their website. I quite liked what I saw. I have been a fan of Tarun Tahiliani’s designs and what I really love about his clothes is the fit. Usually with Indian wear, we end up getting our kurtas and sherwanis altered multiple times before getting the right fit. However, Tasva’s clothes fit me like a glove, and I feel I aligned with the brand’s vision and that’s why I came on board.
You come from two illustrious film families in the Telugu industry — the Akkineni-Daggubati clans. Do you feel the burden of carrying forward the precedent set by your father, grandfather and uncles?
I am very fortunate to be from this family and fans have supported me throughout. Of course, there’s pressure to keep proving oneself but I look at it as a challenge. I don’t look at it as pressure. I am fortunate to take the family legacy forward and I am not complaining about it.
You have had a steady career and have played various characters, but if you had to pick roles that really challenged you, which ones would those be?
I think the most challenging roles have been the ones in films that I did with my family members, especially my dad and grandfather. You are used to seeing them a certain way at home. There is a certain respect and aura around them at home. Then, suddenly, on the sets, we’d have to slip into our characters. In some scenes, I had to make fun of them, and it was very hard. I consider those roles as the most challenging ones. I did Manam with both of them, and Bangarraju, with dad recently. Both films were quite difficult.
Also read: It's official: Venkat Prabhu to debut in Telugu with Naga Chaitanya film
Songs from your next film Thank You are already creating a buzz. What can you tell us about the movie?
Thank You is releasing on July 8. It’s a journey about a man from the age of 18 to 35, from being a nobody to becoming a startup founder who turns into a billionaire, and how he loses everything. And yet, he corrects his actions and builds himself and his business up again. It’s a beautiful film about human emotions and about the simple words ‘thank you.’
Films from Telugu cinema and other South Indian industries have done well across the country in recent times. What are your thoughts on these pan-India movies?
When they were making the first part of KGF or the first part of Baahubali, I don’t think the filmmakers were looking at a pan-India audience. They were true to what they were doing. The emotions in the film connected with audiences all over India and that’s why they were categorised as pan-India films. I think as filmmakers we must always be true to what we set out to do. We should stop thinking, ‘If I put this element in the film, someone from that region will watch it.’ I don’t think it works like that. Emotions are universal, so if you make something with emotions that everyone can relate to, then people from all over the country will watch it.
Talking about fashion, how would you define your personal style and what are your wardrobe staples?
I like being understated and no matter what the brand is, the first thing I look at is the fit because clothes that fit well are stylish. The standard pieces in my wardrobe are a white shirt, a pair of well-fitting jeans and a pair of formal trousers. You will also find a lot of shirts in solid colours. I also love sneakers and I always have a pair of loafers.
What do you routinely wear when you are out and about?
I usually pick a pair of jeans and a t-shirt for a day at work. But honestly, with the kind of fabrics and cuts that we see today, I think we can wear Indian wear all day.