As Naga Chaitanya forays into OTT with Dhootha, Telugu star discusses not letting comparisons with superstar-dad Nagarjuna influence his individualistic choices
Trying something for the first time is often accompanied by a mix of exhilaration and nerves. That is probably Naga Chaitanya’s headspace as he ventures into digital entertainment with Dhootha. As the supernatural thriller premières online tomorrow, does he again feel like the newcomer who debuted with Josh (2009)? It’s different, says the Telugu star. “With a theatrical release, you wonder about the opening collections. In OTT, the audience catches it over the weekend, and then over the month. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. So, there is a bit of nervousness.”
In Amazon Prime Video’s supernatural thriller, Chaitanya plays a journalist, who is roped in as a newspaper’s editor-in-chief. The first thing that struck him during director Vikram Kumar’s narration was the story’s ability to suck him in. “After every episode, I wanted to hear more. By the time he completed the episodes, I knew I had to do this.” What made Dhootha all the more interesting for the actor is reuniting with the director after Manam (2014). “Vikram and I go back a long way, from the time I grew up in Chennai. He is great with the supernatural genre. If you’ve seen 13B , there is a layer of the supernatural that brings freshness to the story. We hope this series gets a positive response. Vikram has ideas for Dhootha 2, 3 and 4,” he grins.
A still from the series
Chaitanya is the third-generation actor from the Akkineni family after grandfather Nageswara Rao and father Nagarjuna. Comparisons then are inevitable. The actor says, “There was a huge fan base built around them [when I debuted]. Dad is still entertaining audiences. So, the comparison is bound to be there.” Instead, he views it as a privilege, not pressure. “I’m fortunate to have the fan-following that comes because of them. I take the [comparisons] as a challenge to carve a path that is unique to me. That is what my grandfather and father did, being honest and unique to themselves.”
His career choices show that he is following his heart. Last year, he debuted in Hindi cinema with a supporting role in Laal Singh Chaddha. In hindsight, does he feel he could have debuted with a lead role? “In a film, if I can help carry the story forward, it’s enough. How my character influences the story is more important for me than screen time. If the right script comes along, I’d love to do more Hindi films.”