Naga Chaitanya on ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’, Samantha and more: I’m wiping the slate clean – Exclusive | Hindi Movie News

Naga Chaitanya is breaking new ground in both his professional and personal life. He tells one of them excitedly, with the enthusiasm of a slender newcomer. He is full of praise for Aamir Khan and his debut Hindi film Laal Singh Chaddha (LSC). But if you ask him about his recent divorce from Samantha and all the speculation and suspicions surrounding their split, he regrets being in the spotlight. But he’s a thorough professional, and in an exclusive conversation with ETimes, he reveals everything there is to know about his new film and his preference for protecting his personal life. Read more…

Laal Singh Chaddha will be your big debut in Hindi cinema. How excited are you about the film’s prospects?
I know the content inside and out and I really know the film will touch hearts. I’m also nervous because it’s my first Hindi movie. I am curious how and if I will be accepted. I want to see if the audience likes me or not. It’s almost a new start in my career. It’s “take two”. Starting all over again with a brand new audience. I can’t wait for August 11th.

You have revealed in the past that Aamir Khan has personally called you to offer the role in LSC. Did that put any pressure on you?
When I first heard that Mr. Aamir would call, I was almost a nervous wreck. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to look like. So many emotions came in at once. And then suddenly I was standing in front of him on a video call. When he spoke to me, he was so casual, humble. His warmth spread to me and it kept me at ease. Aamir has that power to put people at ease and get rid of that superstar aura. He acts just like every other person in the room. I immediately felt comfortable with him and within a week I went down and met him in person.

I grew up watching so much of Aamir sir’s work, it inspired me in so many ways, I learned so much from it. When you finally get to work with such people, it’s a huge vote of confidence for you personally. You want validation from the people you have learned from. Finally, if you can work with them and give them input on what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing, that means a lot. It stays with you forever. I have come out of Laal Singh Chadha so much more confident. I am grateful for the experience.

They say you should never meet your idols.
It happens when some people are utterly disappointed after meeting a person they idolized. But for me, I’m so glad I met Aamir, sir.

Your character in LSC is based on Gary Sinise’s character in Forrest Gump. How did you prepare for such a fascinating character with so much emotional and physical drama?
Just like in the original, Bubba and Forrest meet in the army and Bala and Laal, in our movie, do the same, but our meeting takes place during the Kargil War. We trained a lot before starting the shoot. The most extensive part of the training was the workshops and reading sessions. I had received the script about six months in advance. Our director Advait (Chandan) took me through the rules because my Hindi wasn’t too good. Lucky for me, the film needed a Telugu boy who spoke Hindi. So even if my Hindi slipped into a Telugu accent, it was exactly what was needed. They wanted me to drop a few Telugu words here and there. That was part of my character.

When it came to the appearance of my character, that’s something that Aamir mister constantly shadowed, throughout the months of preparation. I had to wear a mouthpiece to make my jaw look a little different, which will be visible in the movie. That took some time to crack. There were also 2-3 changes in appearance that my character goes through in the movie. We also had 3-4 days of training in the army camp which took place in Srinagar. Although the training was intense, I loved the process because I got to spend time with these people. With Aamir sir, I always wanted to be next to him and observe his process. Advait and the entire executive team became good friends.

Was the language barrier the reason you haven’t forayed into Hindi movies for so long?
My Hindi has never been perfect. I grew up in Chennai and then moved to Hyderabad. So Tamil and Telugu are the languages ​​that are most natural to me, we speak them at home too. Hindi was always a little far away. Whenever I got a call for a Hindi movie, I was always a little skeptical about how I would fit into that texture and canvas. I’ve always wanted to be presented to the Hindi audience by someone else. Like, in Laal Singh Chaddha, I’m going to be sir next to Aamir. I always wanted that kind of guidance for my first Hindi film. Playing the lead wasn’t something I was too concerned about, but I wanted to play the right character in my first Hindi movie. Can’t really try that in Telugu cinema. What’s happening here is that everyone, including the fans and filmmakers, expects a certain kind of cinema from me. That’s because there’s been a preconceived impression since we come from a film family, which makes a certain kind of cinema. There’s a lot of anticipation here, but I get there and present myself to a new audience, so I can really freak out. I can’t do that in Hyderabad.

Do you wipe the slate clean and how will your Telugu fans react to the creative risk in doing so?
I wipe the slate clean. I’m not the hero or the main character. I play a supporting role that contributes to the progress of the film. When the fans know you’re playing a special character, their mindset changes automatically. They enter the theater with an open mind to accept what you are about to present. The Telugu audience will hopefully come from a more accepting space. The Hindi crowd doesn’t know me that well to have any expectations. They will form an impression based on this film.

During your interviews for Thank You, your co-star Rashii Khanna revealed that your screen time for an entire day was only four minutes. That sounds insane for a young movie star from 2022. Are you totally aloof and don’t want to know what the world is talking about?
Of course I want to know the opinion of the world and I want to know what is happening in the world. But that doesn’t mean I’m on Instagram or Twitter. During the pandemic, sitting at home, we all thought for a few years. When the pandemic started, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I used to sit in front of the computer or on my phone and kept swiping all day. I used to be on social media all day and at the end of the day I felt mentally exhausted. And when I think about it today, I’ve never been able to spend all day on Instagram and Twitter. I realized that there are also so many false projections on social media. There is also so much for a person to get carried away with. The whole system is based on people projecting themselves. Yes, there is also a lot of sincerity, but there is more of that projection. It can consume you and send you in the wrong direction.

Everyone is dependent on the internet for their daily stuff of information. Not you?
I know what my interests are and what hobbies I want to pursue. I don’t have to be on social media to collect that relevant information. I can go directly to a relevant website and read what I want. I can refer to an article on this. I wanted to break free from the things that swallow me up but don’t benefit me. I’m on social media during movie releases and I read twitter comments and reviews during the one month period before and after the release of my movies. But then I gave up. I like to stay in my zone with the movies and characters I make and focus on people around these pursuits. I have a select few hobbies and I just want to go online to get information about them.

I’m sure you’ll agree that there are benefits to being on social media, too. Your colleagues have often talked about how social media has given them direct access to their fans.
Our fans reach us through social media, it gives us direct access to them. Like I said, I want to consciously get involved and listen to what the fans are saying during the one month of release, but consuming too much data can also put you off. It can send you down a spiral. Sometimes when you are in the process of making a movie or selecting a script and listening to too many opinions, it can upset your balance. You have to spend time processing that data and then turning it off and letting that data marinate in your head to help you make up your mind and straighten your attitude. I prefer a healthy distance from the online world.

Social media is also the place where your personal life can be dissected very openly. Does that frustrate you?
It’s frustrating. I’m here as an actor and I want my professional life to do the talking. I don’t want my personal life to be the subject of discussion. We all have a personal space, and there’s a reason it’s called “personal.” Unfortunately, it’s part of this job where your personal space also becomes a story. That is the baggage that this job entails. It is my responsibility to be affected by it or not. Every celebrity should actually take that call. It gets frustrating that my personal life takes a bigger hit than my professional achievements. But I think I just need to keep working harder at my profession. The bits of personal life will come and go.

Is that why you chose to remain silent about your divorce from Samantha?
Whatever we both wanted to say, we both made a statement. I’ve always done that with my private life anyway. Things that I think are crucial to be shared and brought out, I inform the media about it, whether it’s good or bad. I come out, tell the people about it through a statement and that’s it. In our case, Samantha has moved on, I’ve moved on, and I don’t feel the need to inform the world about it, more than that.

My friends, family and the people who matter, they all know it. And you see, news replaces news. All speculations and conjectures are all very temporary. The more I comment on it, the more news it will make. So I’ll just keep calm about it, let it happen and hopefully it will all fade away.

Your previous releases like Love Story with Sai Pallavi and Bangarraju with your father Nagarjuna proved successful, but your recent release Thank You, where you only took the star responsibility on your shoulders, didn’t do so well. How have you reacted to the film’s reception?
Thanks was an eye opener for me. I’ve learned from the film’s shortcomings and I’ll make sure I don’t repeat those same mistakes in the future. But you know, times have changed too. Thank You is a movie I drew four years ago before the pandemic. The audience, their perception and the way people look at cinema was so different back then. I feel like the pandemic has caused a shift in the public. They are now very clear about the kind of cinema they want to see in the cinema and the kind they prefer to watch from the comfort of their home. There’s no disrespect, there’s just been a shift in their priorities. If I were to create a soft, honest love story today, no matter how well written or crafted, I would be concerned about its reception in the theaters. Because the public likes to consume that kind of content at home. If I have to take audiences to the theater today, I have to promise them an ‘x’ factor that they will enjoy and that it will be worth their money and time. It should be an immersive experience that can only happen in a theater. That has been a huge learning curve for me from Thank You.

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