Five rising stars who have already tasted success and have a lot going on for them tell us that the journey to the top is back-breaking. It is sheer passion, not an illustrious second name or formal training of the craft, that can promise success.
Varun Tej, Ritu Verma, Vijay Devarakonda, Nitya Naresh and Nawin Naresh talk about ringing in new age cinema with modern sensibilities and what they want to do outside of movies to fuel their dreams
Ritu Verma | Actress
If she is being called Miss Midas of the industry, it is with a reason. On a lark, she acted in a short film titled Anukokunda and it went on to get screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The short film fetched her the chance to feature on the silver screen alongside reigning star Kajal Aggarwal. But before she could be branded as a girl who plays second fiddle, the 26-year-old actress played a keyrole in Pellichoopulu which celebrated 100 days last week, a rarity in the hit-starved industry. Speaking of her two-year eventful journey in tinsel town, Verma says, “Although I believe that destiny led me to movies, I can’t think of anything other than acting as a profession.” Coming from a non-filmi background, she says, “I believe that every film that an actor does teaches him or her something. I believe I am getting better with every film I do.” Her future plans? “Surprise people with my characters.” When she is not in front of the camera, she would like to travel. “Nature beckons me. Adventure entices me,” she says already looking forward to her next vacation to celebrate
her first ‘100-day club’ success.
Nitya Naresh |Actress
At 24, she is pretty much sorted. “I’m clear about one thing. I want to spend my life doing what I love and what makes me happy. I love films and being an actor makes me happy. So that’s what I will be doing throughout my life,” says the dimpled beauty who won rave reviews with her debut movie Nandini Nursing Home. A post-graduate in film studies from St. Xaviers, Mumbai, Naresh has always been fascinated by cinema. Although she only dreamt of being behind the camera, this Hyderabadi girl ended up posing for it. “I was on the verge of becoming an assistant director in Mumbai when I got a call from Tollywood,” the newbie recalls. She started with Kerintha last year where she plays a small role, but 2016 made her join the league of actresses with central roles. About the support she gets from her family she says, “Without their constant encouragement I wouldn’t have been here. Last year, I enjoyed quality time with my family at a massive reunion in Sri Lanka.” The actress who likes to dream big says her bucket list includes skydiving, bungee jumping, backpacking around Europe, a ranch full of animals, hugging a panda. And finally, at least five blockbuster movies, including one with Amitabh Bachchan.
Vijay Devarakonda | Actor
At eight, he told his seniors in school that he wanted to be a ‘star’. Instead of bullying him, they let him go, awed by his confidence. At 16, he repeated his lines to impress the girls. At 27, Devarakonda has proved to friends and family that he did not say it just for the heck of it, but he worked hard towards nurturing his starry dreams. While some remember him as the Doodhkashi boy in Yevade Subramanyam, his recent outing as the bearded food truck guy in Pellichoopulu is what catapulted him to the top league of newcomers.
He started with theatre in his 20s and is counted among the promising newbies in the industry.“The taste of adulation is addictive. Once an actor, always an actor,” he says.
Talk of his growth curve and he is quick to correct it, “Not a curve, but a straight line. When I look back at my theatre performances and my early films, I feel embarrassed. But then, most things appear that way once you move ahead. So while I am happy with what I am doing right now, I look forward to being embarrassed of my current work in the future,” he says. “I graduated from ‘Who the hell is Vijay Deverakonda’ to ‘get me Vijay Deverakonda for my next movie’ in the industry. And all of this in 12 months,” he says. With six movies in the pipeline, his confidence is justified.
Nawin Naresh| actor
Movies have always been at the crux of his existence. After all, dad Naresh, uncle Mahesh Babu, grandmom Vijaya Nirmala are superstars of Tollywood. Cinema was not sheer entertainment, but part of his entity.
“When I watched the 1991-Kamal Haasan starrer Guna, I couldn’t swallow a morsel. I am a foodie and can never resist food. It hit me then that a good movie or a good character has the power to move us. This made a lasting impression on me. I was exposed to a variety of movies from Chitram Balare Vichitram to movies like Edward Scissorhands. In all these movies, I practically saw how the audience connect with the characters. I would enact these scenes in front of the mirror. When my parents and friends gave me the thumbs up to my histrionics, I decided my choice of profession,” says Naresh. Interestingly, this actor who debuted with Nandini Nursing Home last month has no qualms in revealing that he failed the audition to get into Satyanand Acting School. “Every film is a challenge. With every role, the actor is reborn and reinvents himself,” he shares his credo.
As he starts his day working for his next movie, he tells what he wants to do soon. “Act in a movie alongside Kamal Hassan or Rob Downey Jr. or Ranbir. Then start my own production company.”
Varun Tej | actor
Nothing is as easy as it seems. Actor Varun Tej’s initial days in movies followed Murphy’s Law to the T. First, it took some time for the best filmmakers to approach him. When they did, there were production delays. When that was sorted out, he had to face release hassles. However, he managed to overcome all that and went on to have two great releases in his filmography. Although he hails from the ‘Mega’ family under the guidance of illustrious actors such as Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan, and his cousin Ramcharan known to be among the top dancers of the industry, Tej says he has his share of woes. “It took ace choreographer Brinda to elicit thebest dance moves that my family would be proud of,” he says. After his debut Mukunda, Tej signed up for Kanche which announced his arrival. He played a miltary officer in the National Film Award winning movie (Best Feature Film in Telugu at the 63rd National Film Awards). The movie based on World War II went on to become the 14th highest grossing Telugu film of 2015, according to trade magazines. Tej says his dreams are simple. “Work in five meaningful movies in two years.”
Text: Purnima Sriram