Tell us about yourself
My childhood was very dreamy and simple. I grew up playing marbles on farms, living in a village in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh which had only one television. Then I was sent to boarding school in Kurnool and later Hyderabad for further studies. Extra curricular activities like Kabbadi, Kho - kho interested in more than studies even then and I represented the district team in competitions. After that I studied engineering in Chennai and then moved to Australia for an MBA with a reputed institute. Back then making money was the only thing driving me but soon I realised a 9 to 5 job was never going to keep me satisfied.
It took a massive car accident that could have killed me, that shook me out of my comfort zone, made me introspect and I took a leap to follow my passions. My close friends and family had always felt I was good at fitness and while it was a personal interest, I decided to equip myself in it professionally. I quit the job, enrolled at the Australian Institute of Fitness to become a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. After deciding to follow this profession, I turned entrepreneur, moved to Hyderabad and started F49 fitness. We had a massive launch with Bret Lee and have been a successful fitness chain since then.
Where did you grow up and how did the acting bug catch you?
My grandfather always told me that I would be good at acting. I never took that seriously but once I was back to my roots in India, doing fitness training for clients at F49, I was approached for a villain role in Ksheera Sagara Madhanam. While from childhood everyone from friends to family told me that I should do movies, it wasn’t until the role came to me, I took it very seriously.
I believe training is very important. Be it fitness or acting - if you are serious about your passion or profession you need to put in the effort, acquire the skills and be committed to it. So I enrolled in acting classes, learnt the nuances and then started auditioning for more roles. Wild Dog happened by fluke. A casting director saw my instagram feed and called me for an audition.
Consulting to being an entrepreneur in fitness and hospitality to acting - you have had quite a journey.
Coming from a small village has kept me humble and hardworking. Whether it was my job or the businesses I have built in fitness and hospitality as an entrepreneur, I worked my way up. I think this habit has kept me in good stead when it comes to acting. I do the work and leave the rest for the audience and film fraternity to decide. Acting needs a lot of patience and persistence and I have both.
Tell us about your acting journey before Wild Dog happened.
I worked in Zee5 Telugu web series titled God alongside Satyadev and Chandni directed by Anees Kuruvilla. After that I went on to do Krish’s project Mastee alongside Navdeep which is on Aha Network. I got cast in Wild Dog after that.
Considering this is an action film, how did you train yourself to do long winding action sequences.
Some of my experience in fitness helped but there was a huge learning curve when it came to learning action techniques and body language to enact close combat sequences, how to snatch and hold a gun correctly, ambush people, do encounters on screen among other things. While on screen it looks like a seamless choreography of fast movements, there is a lot of nuance involved. We were lucky to have not one but two world renowned action directors training us. Fast and Furious 7 action director David Ismalone and Bollywood bigge Shyam Kaushal both honed our skills. I also made sure that when the Covid induced break happened, I trained at home so as to keep up with our training whenever the shoot resumes.
Role in the movie
I play the role of Hashwant Manohar, an NIA officer in Nagarjuna aka Vijay Varma’s team. Hashwant has returned from abroad to settle down in Hyderabad and has recently gotten married but before he can go for his honeymoon he is called for the mission. Our team is tasked with finding the culprits behind a series of bomb blasts that take place in Hyderabad. In the movie, I am a softie and a new recruit who is unsure about his first mission but you get to see his progression graph as the movie goes ahead. I have always loved watching whodunits like the Bond series or John Wick series. To be enacting a role in a real life based story which is an action thriller has been an amazing journey.
How was your experience working with Nagarjuna
Having grown up in Andhra and studied in Hyderabad I had seen many movies of Nagarjuna like Shiva, Nirnayam, Killer and Geetanjali. What I have always loved about his acting is the unique style he brings to all his characters.
Working with Nagarjuna was a surreal experience for me. I remember during one conversation with him he mentioned how treating everyone with respect matters more in the long run than just having success in what you do. On the set, Nagarjuna is one person on the set who sets the vibe. He is always calm and composed. He uplifts every actor around him, made me super comfortable while acting with him.
For someone like me who is starting out in the industry it was a great deal to get first hand tips from Nagarjuna on fitness and how to groom better, steps to take next etc. I learnt a lot by observing him. How he approaches a particular shot and knowing when to give your best performance.
It is not very common for newcomers to find themselves on the poster of a film. How did you feel when that happened ?
It's an unsaid norm that only main leads find themselves on a movie poster. I never expected to see myself on the poster alongside Nagarjuna. This is a dream come true for any new actor to get such an immense showcase. When I saw myself on the poster, it felt more real and not a dream anymore. I still get goosebumps seeing myself next to Nag Sir and on hoardings and posters everywhere.
What are you doing next?
I have 5-6 projects lined up next, I am shooting for 4 more Telugu projects and one Tamil project. I am doing 101 or Jillalo Andhagadu alongside Srinivas Avasarala, Shyam Singha Roy alongside Nani, Adivi Sesh starrer Major among other projects.
Which actors do you look up to in the film industry and why?
I love Kamal Haasan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. When you see them enacting a role you no longer see them, you see the characters they portray. They draw you into their world. I aim to have that ability to embrace a character so well that the audience is fully engrossed in that world. Kamal Haasan Naigam and Sagara Sangamam are my all time favourites and Nawazuddin’s role in the webseries Sacred Games still gives me goosebumps.