South Indian actor Allu Arjun, who has been a formidable force in the Telugu film industry, describes his enormously successful run as a “blessing”.
But the son of top producer and distributor Allu Aravind is keen to venture into the unknown. In a rare interview, Arjun, 36, reveals that he’s ready to take a plunge into the unfamiliar in his quest to be a better performer.
“It’s been 16 years since I started my journey into the entertainment industry and it has been a delight. Till now I have been focusing on regional language movies — predominantly Telugu. But now I am in the process of exploring other languages and other markets along with the Hindi film industry,” said Arjun in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
While Bollywood beckons, Arjun — whose hits include ‘Arya’, ‘Race’, ‘Sarrainodu’ and ‘Vedam’ — is also keen to experiment with the digital platform. The actor, who began his career as a child actor when he was a toddler, isn’t ready to take it slow.
Here are our excerpts from our email interview as we discuss films, his acting method, nepotism, his alleged feud with his powerful producer dad and more…
Q: What kind of a cinematic moment are we having right now in Telugu cinema?
A: As of today, Telugu cinema is in its best phase. There is a lot of cross-over appeal for the movies we are making. They are being appreciated, while breaking barriers and setting new standards for Indian cinema.
Q: With the advent of digital streaming services, filmmakers and actors are at an interesting point in their lives where they have realised that it is content that rules. Does that give you sleepless nights?
A: Not at all. Our strength is content and this gives us the security to believe in what we do. We are here to stay for a long time.
Q: Rumours are rife that you are being head-hunted to host the ‘Big Boss’ season three reality show. Is there any truth to it? If yes, what are your thoughts on making a debut on the small screen?
A: My father and I used to be on the board of directors and shareholders [part owners] for Maa Tv before the sale to Star [TV network]. At that point in time, I was offered ‘Big Boss’ one and two as I had the first right of refusal. I personally felt it was not in the space that I function in, so I let that offer pass. And whoever they selected post that decision has done a great job for the TV audience and for the show. At the moment, I would like to concentrate on making good entertaining movies, bringing joy to my fans and movie audiences at large all over the world.
Q: You are working on a film with director Trivikram Srinivas, which also features Tabu. What was Srinivas’ brief to you and what have you observed about Tabu’s phenomenal acting skills?
A: Everything is still in the talking stage. Nothing is finalised, so I wouldn’t be able to reveal any information on it. Once everything is confirmed, I will be able to give more details about it. Apart from that, Tabu is a brilliant and phenomenal actress and achiever whom I have always adored and admired.
Q: What can you tell us about that film with Srinivas that’s reportedly based on a father-son relationship?
A: All I can say is that it’s an assured entertainer. Once the movie is unveiled, you will know more about it. It’s our best kept a secret because we would lose the surprise element if I reveal more here.
Q: When you read reports about your ongoing feud with your father Allu Aravind, does that make you resentful of being a public figure where every personal detail is dissected?
A: It’s the funniest thing that I have read off late. My father and I live under the same roof and we have regular discussions each day over various topics. But when we saw this, we had a good laugh over it. There is actually nothing much to say about this. It’s just funny.
Q: You have also signed ‘AA20’ with director Sukumar — a director who made you an instant star with ‘Arya’. How has your dynamic changed over the years? Do you think director Sukumar has the power to reinstate you as the biggest stars down South?
A: Sukumar is one of the most talented and wonderful directors in South India. Not just Telugu, but in the entire South India. I have done two movies with him earlier and I just can’t wait for this one to take off and create a magical experience for all of you. He is also one of my best friends in the industry.
Q: What is your process as an actor — are you a method actor or prefer spontaneity?
A: I personally prefer spontaneity.
Q: The Telugu film industry — just like other fields — has been tainted with the controversy around nepotism. You may seem like a privileged insider. So what are your thoughts on nepotism ruling film industries and other professional fields? Shouldn’t it be a level playing field?
A: Whether I accept it or not personally, one thing is for sure is that I do come from a family with a [film] background. So nepotism does exist in my case and I cannot run away from it. All I can say is: nepotism or no nepotism, only talent prevails at the end of the day and only the talented survive in the industry.
Q: Siddhant Chaturvedi of ‘Gully Boy’ fame claims to be your huge fan. Have you ever considered yourself as a role model?
A: It was a pleasant surprise when he said that because I liked his work in ‘Gully Boy’ a lot. Of late, I haven’t seen anybody who has so much swag and who has done such a wonderful job in their first film. From the bottom of my heart, I wish him all the best for his future endeavours and I hope to meet him someday.
Q: If there was a role in your own films that you could do all over again, which one would it be and why?
A: No, I personally don’t like to recreate the magic that I have already created. I would love to move ahead, bringing in a new experience to the audience and I don’t think I would like to redo any movie of mine keeping that in mind.
Q: Do you Google yourself?
A: Yes, sometimes when I need to refer to my looks in my previous films, I do Google myself because in every movie I would like to deliver something new.
Q: What’s your take on trolls that have become a way of life for a public figure? Do you give those faceless digital warriors, who are often toxic, any time of your day?
A: I don’t have an issue with trolls. If people have an opinion they have the right to express it. The only thing that disturbs us is the ‘language.’ If expressed in a respectable vocabulary, it would be appreciated but if not, any trolls on any topic would lose its essence is what I believe.
Q: Your life seems to be a portrait of work-life balance. Do you think men can have it all?
A: I believe in the adage ‘each to their own’. For me, I would love to have a healthy work-life balance in my life and I try my best to maintain that in all my activities. But that’s just me. It all depends on what people want from their lives ultimately.
Q: If you had three superpowers, which ones would you choose and why?
A: I would just choose one super power. I hope to have a power where I am able to understand myself better so that I can be the best version of myself.
Q: Actors are believed to be a highly insecure lot — who can blame them as they are fighting competition with every release? Is that stereotype still accurate?
A: You cannot stereotype everybody, not all actors are the same. Some may be insecure, some may be highly insecure, I wouldn’t know for sure. It all depends upon each individual and it’s unfair to categorise all actors into one lot. That would be stereotypical. Agreed, there is competition among actors and it all depends on how we take it. I take competition on a positive note as it just motivates me to do better each day.
There are there movies actually that changed my career in different ways which are ‘Arya’, ‘Race Gurram’ and ‘Sarrainodu’.
“Desserts and chocolates.” — Allu Arjun’s biggest weaknesses.