• Interviews

Interview with RRR actor N.T. Rama Rao, Jr.

N.T. Rama Rao, Jr. follows in the footsteps of his grandfather who was a well-respected actor and a superstar in south Indian films who later went on to become a politician. The appearance of his name on the marquee was sufficient to draw audiences to the cinema. Now his grandson, aside from being a superstar in his own right, has gained worldwide attention thanks to RRR, the critically acclaimed film.


In an email interview, NTR (called Tarak by his friends) talks about working with director S.S. Rajamouli, how he chooses his films and his experience at the Golden Globes.

Having worked with director Rajamouli once before, have you seen any change in his method of directing?

He is still the same director but he has become even more particular about getting the scenes perfect. And that’s why I call him jakanna, i.e, a sculptor.

Would you consider him an actor’s director? Does he listen to an actor’s input? And if so, can you talk about one such experience on the shoot?

He is everyone’s director and not just the actor’s director. He listens to every single person’s opinion and if he likes it, he will incorporate it. One such experience was when I yelled out loud during the shoot of the ‘Komuram Bheemudo’ [a song in the film]. It was very organic according to the situation. Initially, after hearing the yell, the director denied it, saying there was already so much yelling in the song, but after re-shooting the shot, he said, “Yup, the yelling is required; you were right, Tarak.”

Did you immediately identify with your character when you read the script?

Yes, the shades of Bheem are very similar to those of mine. Bheem can’t hide his emotions. What you see is what he is feeling at any given moment. I am an extrovert and whatever I feel appears directly on my face.

When you read the script and even while shooting, did you ever imagine that the film would be such a worldwide success and have this huge cult following?

I was always confident in the story and the movie we were making. We knew that the film would do wonders in India but we did not expect it to do as well as it did in the West and in Japan.

Do you have any idea why the film has connected with audiences all over the world?

As Rajamouli keeps on saying, a good story is a good story everywhere, and only the nuances change. I think the audience could resonate with the theme of friendship as it was universal.

You attended the Golden Globes, what was that experience like for you? Have you ever watched it on television before?

I have watched the Golden Globes many times on television. As an actor, it was fascinating to watch the event [with] so many actors I have admired. Attending the Golden Globes and being there with actors I have seen in movies was very surreal. I could say it was almost a fanboy moment for me to be there with all of them.

Do you know if there’s a sequel waiting in the wings?

We have not been officially informed about the sequel yet. But yes, Rajamouli has recently announced that he has started working on it.  Let’s see how the project unfolds…

You attended the Cinematheque screening in Los Angeles. What was your impression of the audience’s reaction?

Looking at the audience dancing and cheering for the film reminded me of Indian audiences. It feels so great to receive that kind of love and appreciation. It motivates me to continue working harder and bringing more such movies to audiences worldwide.

What was your impression of Hollywood and its community?

I didn’t get a lot of time to really discover Hollywood and its community. All our time was spent in interviews. I must say Los Angeles went from being a holiday spot for me to a work spot. The journalists I interacted with, the LA press, made me feel very comfortable. I loved the time I spent with them and talking about RRR. They made me feel right at home. They were very warm, and their warmth reminded me of home in India where the people are also known for their warmth.

Talk a little bit about the Telugu film industry and its impact on the Indian film industry.

Telugu films have always been very audience friendly. With Bahubali, Rajamouli erased the so-called language barrier and made it one single industry, that is, the Indian film industry. And now with RRR, Rajamouli united the globe. I am very happy to be a part of this journey.

This film shows that two superstars can appear in the same film. Do you think that there is hope that superstars from the south will perform with stars from Bollywood?

Definitely yes. Crossover films have happened through the ages. There are already movies where actors from different languages have acted together in movies whether in Hindi or in the south. We will see a lot more of that now as content has united all of India into one industry. I believe there will be so much such work happening that it will become the norm rather than the exception to have Indian films with a unified market.