Debutant Akhil, the third generation actor from the prestigious Akkineni clan, is all set to make a big splash with his forthcoming Telugu film “Akhil”. He’s playing it safe with an out-and-out commercial debut as he feels it’s not yet time to take bigger risks.
“It’s important that people accept me first, like the way they’ve accepted others in my family. In Telugu filmdom, audiences like to see their hero dance, fight and play a larger-than-life character. It’s precisely why most of our commercial films do extremely well and get remade too,” Akhil said. “I want to give fans what’s expected of me and once I’ve made my mark, I can experiment and do the kind of films I’d like to do,” he said. Akhil is confident about testing himself as an actor but not immediately.
“I’m playing it safe because I’m not yet ready to take risks, or work with a new director and guide him through a project. I need to gain experience before I could even think of doing anything like that,” he said, adding that “Akhil” as a project has a lot of soul.
“It’s been made on a very large canvas by director V.V. Vinayak, who’s known for giving audiences what they exactly expect from a star,” he said.
The film releases worldwide on November 11 and Akhil admits he’s nervous.
“I’m nervous because of high expectations. No matter how much buzz you create for a film, it’s the content that finally gets judged,” he said.
Thanks to the star family status, Akhil’s entry has been smooth but there’s constant pressure to perform better.
“As I represent the next generation of the Akkineni clan, I’m expected to do much more. It’s the only fear that makes me realize how hard I have to work to survive,” he said.
Contrary to the usual perception, Akhil says even as a star scion one has to prove on their own.
“The star family status can easily get you opportunities, but the offers dry up after a point when you don’t prove yourself. If people don’t accept you, it really doesn’t matter where you come from,” he said.
“Audiences are brutally honest nowadays. If they don’t like an actor, they have all the right to write him off. Irrespective of my father’s support, if people don’t like me there’s nothing my family status can do about it. It boils down to this – if I don’t perform, I’m not going to make it,” he added.
Unlike his contemporaries, Akhil has been prepping himself to be an actor for a while now.
“Acting was always on my mind and once I reached a certain age, I knew I was going to act soon, so I decided to work on my skills. When you come from a star family in the south, you’re expected to be really good in dance and fights. It’s really important that you open up as an actor in front of the camera,” he said.
He’s been training since he was 15.
“I learnt martial arts in Thailand; acting from Los Angeles and spent the last four to five years of my life training rigorously. As southern stars, the benchmark is to be able to do everything to entertain the masses and I realized this very early, which helped in preparing myself accordingly,” said the 21-year old.
Akhil, son of Telugu star Nagarjuna and brother of Naga Chaitanya, deeply misses his late legendary actor-grandfather Nageswara Rao, but is grateful for the legacy he’s left behind.
“I was so lucky to share the screen with him in ‘Manam’. It’d be selfish on my part to wish that he was still around. He had a great life and left us one too,” he said.