Naresh Vijaya Krishna is one of the most impeccable actors in the Indian film industry. He embellishes each of his performances with an in-depth understanding of his characters and nuanced portrayal of a range of emotions. In his illustrious career, Naresh donned several hats such as producer, philanthropist, politician and many more, apart from being a much sought-after actor. Naresh has completed 50 glorious years in Telugu Cinema. On this memorable occasion, we at 123telugu.com had a brief conversation with him. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q) 5 decades and over 170 movies. How do you look at your journey?
A) It’s a dream for billions of people to be in cinema. I feel blessed to be born in a film family which could connect me to cinema. With god’s blessings, I got my first break as a child actor when I was 9-years-old in Pandanti Kapuram (1972). I had the opportunity to share screen with legends like Superstar Krishna, Vijaya Nirmala, SVR, Jamuna and Jayasudha. The film had triggered my passion for cinema. But it’s very rare even for film scions to successfully continue in showbiz for such a long time. I would describe my 50-year journey in the world of cinema is a dream come true.
Q) About your experiences on turning hero
A) My first film Pandanti Kapuram ran for a golden jubilee, and I was determined to pursue acting as a career. But my mother Vijaya Nirmala garu was vehemently against my decision, as the conditions were not so easy those days as they are now. The only actors prevalent in those days were NTR, ANR, Krishna, while Chiranjeevi was just coming in. Luckily, I had the opportunity of being launched as a hero with Nalugu Stambhalata by my guru Jandhyala. He nurtured me as an actor and cast me in his iconic movies such as Rendu Jella Seetha, Puthadi Bomma and Sreevariki Prema Lekha. My parents Vijaya Nirmala garu and Superstar Krishna garu and my guru were my inspiration and of great support throughout my journey.
Q) Taking risks as an actor
A) During the time I was traveling with Jandhyala garu, my mother was simultaneously turning me into a commercial hero with movies such as Mukkopi, Saahasame Naa Oopiri and several other hits. But I have always been a risk taker in my real life and reel life, and I chose to be an actor instead of a hero. My conviction had resulted in two big hits – Chitram Bhalare Vichitram and Jamba Lakidi Pamba. A couple of my experimental movies like Adrushtam and Hello Darling did fail since they were far ahead of time. I went into depression and left cinema for a while.
Q) On your entry into politics?
A) After quitting movies, I joined the BJP and RSS as I was inspired by their ideologies. I travelled in the naxal-hit and faction-ridden areas across the state and met with the poor. I later shifted to social work and charity, and formed my organization Kalakarula Ikya Vedika. I was also recognised by the United Nations ICDRHRP which gave me an honorary doctorate. My stint in politics and social service had given me a broader perspective of life.
Q) About your comeback to cinema as a character actor?
A) After my political journey, cinema called me again. But people had forgotten me by then, and some colleagues in the industry had even spread rumors that I had quit acting for good. But I was motivated to fight back and made a comeback as a character artiste with Mee Sreyobhilashi. The film’s success had paved the way for more memorable character roles in movies such as Drishyam, A Aa, Guntur Talkies and Rangasthalam to name a few.
Q) On being a favourite for new gen filmmakers
A) With all due respect for senior filmmakers, it is the young generation directors like Venky Atluri, Venky Kudumula, Praveen Sattaru, Satish Vegesna and Vivek Athreya who showed another dimension of my acting prowess. It’s heartwarming to hear when these directors call me and tell me that they are penning a character keeping me in mind and request to block my dates.
Q) On staying relevant even after so many years
A) I am a broadminded person, and I could push the horizon by working with such talented young filmmakers. I am quite friendly with my directors and make everyone be at ease on sets. Sometimes, I even insist on conducting workshops to create a healthy atmosphere.
Q) Any special plans to commemorate your golden jubilee?
A) To celebrate this milestone, I have turned producer on my parents’ banner Vijaya Krishna Movies and also launched Vijaya Krishna Green Studios. The first step in this new journey was Malli Pelli. Though it was controversial, Malli Pelli was path-breaking and it was a massive success upon its digital premiere on Aha. The film had shown the real-life stories of half of the Indian population. And the recent success of Samajavaragamana is like an icing on the cake in this golden jubilee year. As a producer, I am keen on encouraging young talent and I’m working on 5, 6 subjects at present.
Q) How’s your personal life at the moment?
A) In Malli Pelli, we showed that the second half of our lives should be better than the first half. Likewise, even I had suffered my setbacks in terms of marriages and divorces. But I’ve finally found a good partner in Pavithra Lokesh. My divorce is in the court. But all I can say is that my conscience is clear.
Q) On future political aspirations
A) Not for the power or a seat in the elections, but I joined politics as I believed in an ideology. I served in the ranks of AP BJP State Youth Wing President and AP BJP State General Secretary. But I’m not happy with how politics have changed now, with the amount of money and dirt involved. So no thoughts of a political comeback. My ideology stays with me.
Q) On directorial ambitions
A) Direction is a full-time responsibility and I am not looking at it at least in near future. But I do write stories often. If Clint Eastwood could direct in his 80s, I may be able to do it in my 70s. My journey so far has been like a memorable book of my life. I truly want to cherish this feeling forever.
With this, we ended our conversation and congratulated Naresh on his golden jubilee!
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