Global Star Ram Charan was in New Delhi on Saturday to participate in the India Today Conclave. The ‘India Moment’ theme was apt for the occasion. The ‘RRR’ star represented Indian cinema and spoke about his career, the Oscar glory for ‘Naatu Naatu’, his views on the Nepotism debate, and many other things.
A highlight was that Charan spoke about his staff members and introduced them to the nation. He also invited his wife, Upasana Koniela, onto the stage.
Excerpts: The Oscar win is incredible. I am still pinching myself because I can’t believe that our film has won an Oscar award (in the Best Original Song category). My wife is my lucky mascot. The 5-month baby in her womb is even luckier for me. I am going to be a father soon. All good things happen at once.
I was fortunate to be there at the Oscars event. I have been a fanboy of the Oscars since I was a kid. We reached the Oscars and winning or not winning didn’t mean much. It was a great honour just to reach that stage. It was a unique acknowledgment and it was a pleasure to represent our cinema there.
We had no feelings ahead of the ceremony. We were numb with tension. All I could feel was my wife holding my hand me as if Mike Tyson was holding me tight.
I was 100% ready to perform ‘Naatu Naatu’ on the stage at the Oscars. I truly don’t know what happened. I think those who performed did a better job than us. It was time for us to relax and enjoy ourselves while someone else performed an Indian song. ‘Naatu Naatu’ is India’s song.
Everyone who worked on ‘Naatu Naatu’ deserves appreciation, including the 200 crew members from Ukraine who were so dedicated. I and my wife were planning to vacation in Ukraine but three months after the song was shot, a war broke out there.
I and Tarak became friends a few years before ‘RRR’ happened. If not for Rajamouli, I don’t think we would have done this two-hero movie for any other director.
‘Magadheera’, my first film with Rajamouli, was my first blockbuster. I like working with taskmasters. I like to be on my feet always. Working with Rajamouli is like going back to school. He is one person I have the maximum respect for after my father and my uncle (Pawan Kalyan).
On cinema transcending geographical boundaries: This is no more regional cinema in this era. We have so many industries from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu and other regions in India. Rooted stories have to come out. ‘Magadheera’ was like that. ‘Lagaan’ was like that. ‘Parasite’ from Korea was like that. If your films bring out your struggles, your stories from the soil, they will be loved by everyone. I want the global audience to see our films as Indian cinema – one cinema.
On Nepotism debate: I don’t understand this debate. It’s herd mentality. I don’t know how many individuals think along those lines left for themselves. If the son of an eminent journalist wants to become a journalist, it is only understandable. The inclination in children to follow their parents has always been there. I breathe and live cinema. I was in a film school since I was born. I know the art. I wouldn’t have sustained myself in this industry if I was not good at my job. You only get a stepping stone to success (if your parent is already an established name), but later you are on yourself. Talent speaks. Yash’s (the ‘KGF’ star’s father came from an underprivileged background) talent spoke for itself. It’s the same case for everyone.
On Hollywood entry: Wish for it. The wish might come true. It’s too early for me to say whether I am in talks for a Hollywood project. Everything is a process until it materializes. It will happen (laughs).
I have always been evolving as an actor and a person. For any actor, it’s important to satisfy the director. You have to get into the director’s head.
I have always looked up to Hindi cinema. I always wanted to reach out to the maximum set of audiences across the country. They (Bollywood) have been doing great for so many years. It’s not like only Southern cinema has arrived. We can make history together.
I think every actor wants to become an action hero. Even romantic actors want to do action films occasionally. I hope the audience will be welcoming enough when I try other genres (non-action films).
When I started out as an actor, on the first day, my father asked me to take care of my staff well. If the staff members are unhappy with you, you are done for.
My wife is an SRK fan and I am a fan of Salman Khan. I have never imitated any actor in films. Being fluid is more important for an actor. An actor needs to develop a unique style.
On upcoming projects: I am next doing a film with director Shankar. I will be playing a path-breaking character in a rooted film. It will be better than ‘Rangasthalam’. I will be shooting for it from September. That film has the calibre to become accepted in the West. I am very confident about it.
I want to do more than one film at a time for the sake of my EMIs (laughs). On a serious note, I have been working with mavericks who want the entire focus to be on just one film at a time. It has been a long wish of mine to do two films a year. My father is doing three films at the age of 67. He wakes up early in the morning and works out in the gym. People want me to be as active as him doing film after film.
Even a bad actor with great discipline will go a long way. Even a great actor who lacks discipline can suffer.
Will you enter politics?: I can sail only in one boat. And that boat is the film industry. There is no question of becoming a politician.
I want to do a sports film. It has been long overdue. (When the host said if he would like to play Virat Kohli, Charan said it would be fantastic).