Nani's new film, Hi Nanna, also starring Mrunal Thakur under debutant Shouryuv's direction, is gearing up for a grand worldwide theatrical release on December 7. With only a few days left for the romantic family drama film to open in cinemas, the leading Telugu actor recently sat down for a candid conversation with National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, the Editor-in-Chief of Galatta Plus, and opened up on how Tamil filmmaker Mani Ratnam shaped his cinematic sensibilities. Nani starts off saying, "I'm a big cinema fan. I used to watch a lot of films on TV. I still remember there was this cable TV [channel] when I was in fifth class which started after Doordarshan and they used to put on a film every day. There was no need to wait till Sunday or anything, and it was too exciting for me. And, I've realized in any film... there were these huge hits from Telugu that they were putting on... And, I used to watch films and even when my friends were playing, I would like to sit in front of the TV and watch films. I used to enjoy and that's it. I never used to watch that same film again. I will want another option."
Nani further explained, "Somehow I realized that it started with Roja or Thalapathi, I think, it was the first film I saw of Mani Ratnam. I didn't know who the director was at that age, but I knew that something about those films of Mani sir made me want to watch them again and again. I don't know what exactly or what to call it. There were films that I loved as a kid. Once I enjoyed that film, I was not like, 'I want to watch it from beginning to end. I want to understand.' It didn't make me think much. It was entertaining me." He continued, "So, Mani sir's films always made me a little curious about cinema, what the director will think, and how he will think of a scene like this... I never thought in that direction. I was only getting entertained as an audience. So, why I always say it's Mani sir is because I think his films made me... I have always been an audience who loves cinema... I think he put that thought in my head to think about other things in cinema, which made me go into cinema and made me choose this path; choose cinema as a profession. Otherwise, I would have been a good audience watching a film every Friday. So, there's a big influence of Mani sir because I constantly watched his films not just as an audience, but also as I was very curious to understand and notice all the little details and nuances, and I started loving the process of filmmaking."
Watch Nani in conversation with Baradwaj Rangan about Hi Nanna and more in the video below: