'Bimbisara' is heading to theatres on August 5. In this interview, Nandamuri Kalyanram says that the film, directed by newcomer Vassishta, gets his characterization right. He takes us through the journey of making the film, his future plans, NTR30, and more.
I was shooting for 'NTR: Mahanayakudu' when Vassishta came to me with the script of 'Bimbisara'. He told me the script may not be logical but it is full of magic. I was excited after listening to the time-travel and fantasy-filled story. At that time, my character didn't have shades of cruelty and menace.
I enjoyed the makeover I had to go through for this role. I got to explore myself and unleash my aggressive self on the big screen. After the 'Baahubali' movies, a standard has been set for what a king should look like. Two months of rigorous work had to be put in to design my look.
I was trained by my physical trainer, who didn't ask me to follow a rigorous diet regimen. I had a balanced diet of Basmati rice, ghee-free food, etc. I avoided junk food. I had a cheat day every 14th day.
I am making it clear that our movie doesn't have war episodes. It is all about an evil king who became noble. This is a socio-fantasy film that doesn't have big-spectacle action blocks. It is in the zone of the Vittalacharya school of filmmaking in terms of fantasy elements.
You can definitely see Kalyanram 2.0 in this film. Tarak himself has said so.
I have no interest in romantic movies. The genre doesn't suit me at all. My first two films were love stories and they failed. Surender Reddy came to me with 'Athanokkade' and it was a hit. I have always shown an inclination toward teaming up with new directors.
'Bimbisara' is going to transcend your expectations. What you have seen in the trailer is just a sample. There are many shots and aspects in the film. And watching them on the big screen will be special.
I never expected that I would one day do a film like 'Bimbisara'. My father once told me that a story chooses its lead actors. Probably, the script of 'Bimbisara' felt that I am the right actor.
It's no joke to remake NTR garu's movies. 'Pathala Bhairavi' has been a great creative inspiration to me. Balayya Babai got into the genre with 'Bhairava Dweepam' and succeeded.
The Telugu audience have always been flocking to theatres. Indian audiences have no other entertainment other than cinema. Even on TV, we like to watch movies. Nowadays, trailers have become very important crowd-pulling avenues. That's why filmmakers are bringing out lengthy trailers to convince the audience about what they have made. Then comes the importance of word of mouth. 'Vikram' and 'Major' became big hits. Neither of them had VFX. They were purely content-oriented. If you give the audience good content, they will definitely encourage you. The audience feel that 'Bimbisara' is refreshing (based on the trailer). That's why the advance bookings are encouraging!
I have been busy with promotions and I don't know about the ongoing strike in Tollywood (film shootings have been stalled since August 1).
I am not taking care of production-related aspects at NTR Arts. My team looks after them. It would be a lot of pressure if you have to do both acting and production-related aspects. Even in the case of films like 'ISM' and 'Pataas', I didn't get involved.
People ask me about multi-starrers. It took someone like Rajamouli to bring two big stars for 'RRR'. It's not so easy. You can't afford to go wrong. The audiences' high expectations have to be met, otherwise it's going to be problematic.
NTR Arts once pitched an idea to Balayya Babai. That project didn't happen because he didn't like the story. Our banner definitely will approach him in the future if something arises.
'Bimbisara 2' is going to be there for sure. The story is already ready. But I don't know whether third and fourth parts will be there. The wish is to turn 'Bimbisara' into a franchise. Since it is a fantasy story, it can possibly be expanded in the future with new elements.
As a producer, I am in a happy space as far as 'Bimbisara' is concerned. Digital rights and rights got by Dil Raju garu have fetched us good returns.
On the release date, I am going to watch my film at Brahmaramba Theatre in Hyderabad. It's my favourite theatre.
NTR30 is a huge treasure for us. We are not hiding any update that we already have in our pocket. Tarak is going through huge pressure because the audience have high expectations. We don't want to hurry through. We will take our time. (He hinted that pre-production is going on and there is time for production to take off).
I and Tarak are brothers. Why would we have business calculations in mind? He is my family. We can't divide things as 50:50 with a commercial bent of mind.