[VoxSpace Selects] What Makes Nani A Bankable Actor And Why He Needs To Start Afresh

Nani- The Natural Star Of TFI

The current Telugu Film Industry, to an extent, can boast of having a decent set of new-age actors who have impressed with their work. When we talk about the new-age actors, the first one who comes to our mind is Naveen Babu Ghanta aka Nani. It cannot be denied that Nani is one of the most bankable actors in the Telugu Film Industry right now.

After completing a decade in the industry, Nani has managed to put himself in the top league not just with the roles he picked, but with the business his movies generated as well. While there have been a good number of actors giving him stiff competition, he has managed to survive in the industry and create a niche for himself. He has had a success rate of 80% in the last 4 years, 9 out of his 11 films have been hits.

However, his career saw a dry spell in 2018. In spite of having big projects lined up, none of them bolstered his career. Why?

The reason seems simple once you understand the following thoughts– What makes him a bankable actor? Going forward what are the challenges he has to face? And how do we wish to see him tackle the present cut-throat competition in the industry?

What Makes Him A Bankable Actor

Nani has an amazing screen presence. I wouldn’t say he looks smoky hot or has a chiselled body, with sweat dripping down his biceps when he punches the goons. Instead, he comes across as this pleasant guy who can blend into any role quite easily and ‘natural’ly. Without any doubt, he is an actor who is always spot on with his characters.

The best thing about Nani is that he can convincingly portray the role of your friend, your neighbour’s son, your aunt’s brother or even you. Most of his roles are relatable. Be it Suribabu in Bheemili Kabbadi Jattu, Gautham in Ala Modhalaindhi, Praveen Jayaramaraju in Pilla Zamindar, Subbu in Yevade Subramanyam or Lakkaraju in Bhale Bhale Magadivoy, he knows how to convince you. 

Coming to Telugu cinema, it has been majorly thriving in the space of commercial cinema. Before the indie culture kissed Telugu cinema, it was Nani who gave the audience a breath of fresh air. His movies didn’t blow up minds nor were they pathbreaking milestones. But, when we walk out of the hall, we leave with a smile on our faces. And that’s what every moviegoer wants- a movie worth his/her ticket price. When you maintain this momentum from movie to movie, the audience will definitely not shy away from wanting to seeing you again and again. Irrespective of the fanbase a star holds, it finally boils down to giving your audience a film which is worth their money.

What Are The Challenges He Is Facing

The audience is mean, we know that. On one hand, if you don’t entertain them, they won’t accept you, which is a given. And on the other hand, after they watch you for a couple of years in the roles appreciated by them, they start to complain of monotony.

I’d like to pause here for a minute. Credit needs to be given where it is due. Nani did experiment often. His roles in Eega, Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu, Paisa, and Janda Pai Kapiraju- where the roles of Aravind and Maya Kannan were both played by Nani, were some of his best portrayals. I’m sure he would be proud of them as well. But, since some of the movies didn’t fare well at the BO, he started taking a safer route and he went on a blockbuster spree with 8 consecutive hits. He bravely surpassed the bitter phase in his career (between 2013-15) and emerged a winner.

One has to go on re-inventing oneself to stay in the league and in the audience’ attention. And after Nani managed to crack those 8 consecutive hits, the roles slowly started to get monotonous or I’d rather say Nani was getting predictable. This is a zone I’m afraid Nani will be stuck in.

Though Nenu Local fared well at the BO, it was not a challenging script for Nani. It seemed like a cake walk for him. I mean, his boy-next-door image was being used to its fullest. Take, for example, Ranveer Singh. I understand the demographics vary by miles, but then it is the unpredictable nature of Ranveer that the audience love about him. It will be foolish to ask Nani to replicate Ranveer Singh or Vijay Sethupathi. He has got a style of his own, no doubt about that. But, when you have the art on your side and audience backing it, why not walk that extra mile.

The results of MCA and Krishnarjuna Yudham are itself an example that the audience slowly started to show their back. And with more younger actors entering the arena, the challenge ahead is going to become unpredictable.

How Do We Wish To See Him Tackle The Cut-Throat Competition In The Industry

Heroes should take up challenges regularly in order to stay unpredictable. The same thing will apply to Nani. When he entered the industry, there was no one in his league or rather we could say he was excellent among his (then) counterparts. He is an actor with substance and it would be pleasing to see him explore different horizons. Now that he has established a decent market for himself, it would be more than entertaining to see Nani take some risks and show us something we cannot expect from him. After all, the audience never wants to see their heroes fail.

In regional cinema, while there is ample opportunity to build a strong fan base, there is an equal scope to be not accepted as well. Nani is lucky in this context. He is liked by everyone. He might not have armies, clubs, communities or groups, but if his movies impress, everyone will throng to the cinema halls.

I’m sure Nani himself would be well aware of his career more than anyone of us. Maybe it is time to up his game and has a great run in this current glorious phase of Telugu cinema. The teaser of his upcoming movie, Jersey, gives us a hope that Nani’s reinvention might just be around the corner.

And hopefully, he does flourish..!!