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With promising ventures in the pipeline, Akhil Akkineni and Mehreen Kaur Pirzada are two stars in the making.

Failures  do not deter them,  new adventures  excite them. Here are two new  faces from Tollywood who have an exciting  year ahead. While Akkineni is gearing up for his second film, Pirzada  is set to  garner a stronger foothold in Tollywood and make a foray into Bollywood as well.

AKHIL Akkineni faced the cameras for the first time at the age of one for the 1994 Telugu film Sisindri, an adaptation of the Hollywood film Baby’s Day Out. If you are Akkineni Nagarjuna’s son and Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s grandson, you can’t really escape the acting bug. After a stellar entry before the credits roll out towards the end of 2014 film, Manam, his debut as the lead in VV Vinayak’s 2015 movie, Akhil, failed to live up to the mammoth expectations. However, ANR’s grandson is refreshingly honest about show business and its unpredictability and refuses to let it bog him down. “My first film didn’t go as planned, but I do have age on my side. Having said that, I know that I can’t keep failing. It is important that I come up with something fresh,” says the actor who is set to have an interesting year not only professionally but also personally

Wedding bells
“Yes I am getting married soon. The engagement is on December 9,” he says talking about the state of affairs with his lady love Shriya Bhupal, owner of Hyderabad-based designer label, Shriya Som and daughter of Shalini Bhupal. “I wanted to marry someone outside the film fraternity,” says the actor informing that he likes to keep his personal and professional life separate. His candid confession sets him apart from his peers who are not known to speak about their partners in a frank manner. Apart from his brother Naga Chaitanya of course who is also all set to tie the knot with Samantha Ruth Prabhu soon. While reminiscing about his journey with Shriya, he said “I have been very close to her for the last four years. Also, it seems like I have known her all my life”. The invitation card for the engagement is doing the rounds on social media and it says that the duo is set to get engaged in the city.

Fresh start
The fact that his first movie didn’t work was “a bit of shocker” to him.Akkineni tells us that he took some time out to get out of the low phase. However, instead of hankering for his next project, he took two months off from work and went for a trip with his friends. Apart from that he introspected about the projects coming his way. It took a while before the actor zeroed in on his next. “There was a time last year when I travelled with three directors for a month or two but things didn’t work out,” he confesses. So after thinking it through and discussing it with his family and close friends, he finally zeroed in on Vikram Kumar’s film for his next outing at the theatre. Now brushing off the predicament of his launchpad, this 22-year-old star is wholly focused on what’s to come and has his fingers crossed. “This is what I was waiting for. When I heard the script it felt like worth the wait for me,” says the Akkineni scion. It has been over a year
that Akkineni has had any release but he is upbeat about what’s in store for him. “My next project is going to be an out and out flamboyant love story with an interesting plot and a fresh look,” says the actor.

Other dimensions
Although this Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute graduate lives and breathes film, there’s more to Nagarjuna’s younger son than that. “I thoroughly enjoy playing Celebrity Cricket League and captaining Telugu Warriors. We take the game very seriously,” says Akkineni maintaining that he feels lucky to play in the stadiums frequented by many legendary cricketers. That apart, this star kid does not mind doing television or web series either. “My dad did Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu and I have seen it first-hand how it changed his life, so why not,” he asks.

Candid confessions
While talking to him, we realise that this down-to-earth star kid is not too keen on vanity. Also, surprisingly, Akkineni does not adhere to the social media frenzy and narcissism that most people blessed with fame, good looks and a well-built physique are given to. “I am a little awkward when it comes to putting up pictures. I can never have a picture of myself in my room or post my pictures too frequently on Facebook although I have my official page on the social network,” he says. Self-centred he might not be, but self-aware he certainly is.

Mehreen  Kaur Pirzada

mehreenMehreen Kaur Pirzada may have just debuted, but she is not afraid of taking on more adventure on-screen, like she does in real life. The ravishing newcomer’s journey is as interesting as her name – a Punjabi girl who grew up in New York and later debuts in T’town. As Mahalakshmi, the mischievous and mildly defiant girl in Hanu Raghavapudi’s Krishnagadi Veera Prema Gaadha, she was pitted against Nani, the Eega actor known for his natural screen presence. She might well-neigh be a beginner but has already bagged some big ticket projects both in Tollywood and Bollywood.

The journey

 

Right now, Pirzada is excited that she has been
handpicked by none other than actress Anushka Sharma for her home production, Phillauri. Touted to be a quirky romantic saga based on the experiences of four people in the town Phillaur in Punjab, the actress has bagged a coveted role opposite Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi fame. Calling a spade a spade and quashing the norms of being choosy about roles, the actress says, “If I started thinking too much or picking up only certain kind of projects so early in my career I know I won’t be able to learn much. I look at every role as a challenge and I believe every project comes to you for a reason.” She has also been signed on to play the lead opposite Sai Dharam Tej which is helmed by writer-turned-director BVS Ravi and another with Sundeep Kishan in two yet-untitled projects.

The trajectory
Pirzada was born in Punjab and brought up in Delhi, New York and Canada. The start to her career was with a Dove commercial that she landed in 2014 and in 2015 she signed her first movie with Tollywood star Nani. “Before I landed in Hyderabad, I heard things like ‘only your looks matter.’ Well, that wasn’t the case for me. I had to put in quite a bit of hard-work,” says the actress brushing off generalisations. That’s totally her. She always works with a clean slate without too many preconceived notions. She did thorough homework before she shot for her debut. “It was a two-day audition where I had to slip into the character of Mahalakshmi. I think the makers zeroed in on me after six months of scouting for a female lead. And I read my dialogues in Telugu,” says the effervescent lady.

Prepping up
Pirzada likes being prepared and takes refining her acting chops seriously. She enrolled for an acting course with Vidur Acting Institute before joining films. “It was a month-long course. Alongside I started auditioning too,” she says. Seven months after she signed for a few commercials, she bagged the Telugu film. Then the big B’wood movie followed. “The workshop before Phillauri helped me get into the skin of the character. Me and Suraj learnt a lot in those sessions about getting the on-screen chemistry right,” she says. Despite the demands of show business , the actress also takes her fitness routine seriously. This former Bharatnatyam dancer and pistol shooter keeps herself fit by working out in the gym almost everyday, going for a run when she gets the time.
She has also taken up yoga recently. “It gives me peace of mind and helps me handle all the challenges I encounter,” she says.

-By Paulami Sen

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