In the last two years, Tamannaah Bhatia has had just four releases in Telugu and Tamil, with SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2: The Conclusion being the most popular among them. If you thought she’s run out of opportunities, you’re wrong because with over half a dozen projects currently in her kitty – which include the Telugu remake of Queen, Devi 2 and Chiranjeevi’s Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy – she’s busier than ever.
“This year I spent more time shooting. I’ve never shot for so many films in a year. I’m a workaholic and even though I feel exhausted, when I look back at the work I’ve done this year, I’m still high on enthusiasm, thanks to the overall experience,” she told TNM, adding that this is the best phase of her career.
On Next Enti and working with Kunal Kohli
Tamannaah has teamed up with Fanaa and Hum Tum fame director Kunal Kohli for the first time in her latest Telugu outing, Next Enti, which also stars Sundeep Kishan and Navdeep.
Describing it as a bold film with a very urban vibe, she says, “Telugu cinema has changed a lot in the last two years. We are coming up with newer subjects that have been accepted well and the box-office numbers are proof. Next Enti is a very urban film that boldly talks about how we perceive relationships in today’s world. It talks about how women are classified into tags based on their personalities. The story follows the journey of my character. It’s not a regular rom-com because it stresses upon opinions and perspectives.”
Explaining why she feels it’s a bold film, she says: “Never have we talked more openly about love and sex on celluloid in Telugu cinema. I can’t do serious films. I want my movies to entertain, empower audience and Next Enti falls in that space.”
Tamannaah adds that it her character in the film that really drew her to this project.
“In my career, I’ve mostly played characters that are older than me. I’ve always wanted to play a character who is my age. When Kunal pitched this character, I didn’t want to miss it. More than just the character’s age, I could relate to the personality and even every dialogue.”
On the experience of working with Kunal, she says, “He brought a lot of freshness to the whole project. The narrative style is very similar to Woody Allen’s films. Personally, it was a very challenging film as it features many long takes. There are three and a half minute long shots and we had to shoot as candidly as possible. It was a very enriching experience.”
On Queen remake and Chiranjeevi’s Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy
Tamannaah will have a series of releases in the coming months. Her Telugu comedy F2 – Fun and Frustration featuring Varun Tej and Venkatesh is gearing up for Sankranti release next year.
She also has That is Mahalakshmi, the Telugu remake of Queen, gearing up for release soon. But the project she’s looking forward to the most is Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, which stars Chiranjeevi as Kurnool-based freedom fighter Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy.
“I’ve always wanted to work with Chiranjeevi sir and I’m really glad to have landed this really exciting role in Sye Raa. I feel projects such as Next Enti, That Is Mahalakshmi and Sye Raa mark a new phase in my career. As much as I love dancing and doing commercial films, I want to take up different characters. These films are giving me the opportunity to showcase myself in a very different dimension. Thanks to Baahubali, filmmakers believe I can pull off different characters. The films that I have in my kitty are really special.”
Having recently completed shooting for That Is Mahalakshmi, Tamannaah says she’s eagerly looking forward to the release of the film.
“Ever since I saw Queen, I wanted to be part of its remake, even though I wasn’t sure if it will be remade. I felt liberated when I saw the original and I hope a lot of Telugu audiences, especially women, feel the same way when they watch our film."
She also feels projects like these will make audiences see her beyond her stardom. “I’m blessed to be considered a star but I never see myself as one. Stardom is just the byproduct of the kind of lifestyle we live. I want to be recognised by my work.”
On dealing with criticism and negativity
Tamannaah says she likes to read comments that claim her career is over.
“I love it when people say and write about such things. Whenever I read such comments, it encourages me. I feel so good and work even harder. Every time someone has written me off, I have returned strongly with better characters. Unless you give up and stop working, nobody can write you off.”