“Being a comedy hero was never my plan. I just happened to star in a few comedy films that clicked at the box office and people felt I was best suited for it. Even my father (E V V Sathyanarayana) too specialised in comedy, so the image had stuck with me,” said actor Allari Naresh when a journalist had recently asked about his flair with comedy. The actor, after completing over 50 films, is conscious of moving away from his conventional comedy-hero image with the film Naandhi that releases later this week.
If one looked at early stages of Allari Naresh’s career, they’re filled with several experiments that prove his interest to be versatile. He took up risks like Praanam, Nenu and Danger at a time when his stature as a comedy actor was surging. However, not many of these efforts bore fruit for miscellaneous reasons. While the actor continued to do comedy films that flourished at the ticket window, he did try his hand in projects like Sundarakanda and Visakha Express that broke away from the commercial template. Though many may complain today that the actor only chooses non-sensical comedies, it’s the box office results that have made him do it.
Yet, it was his Gali Seenu-act in Gamyam where the actor got his due from audiences. He managed to find a terrific balance between humour and emotion in the film where director Krish landed him his career-best role. Later, a Shambho Shiva Shambho went onto prove how good a character actor can Naresh be. A point had come where his comedies stopped pulling crowds as it did in the past – he struggled to have even one solid hit between 2013 and 2018. The time for introspection had come. Every actor has a phase where one needs to reinvent himself and Naresh knew he had to take stock of his career.
The supporting role in Maharshi in 2019 had finally confirmed Naresh’s interest to change his path. His role and performance were extremely crucial in changing the direction of the story in Maharshi and the film’s success must have truly given him the confidence to do a Naandhi today. In Naandhi, he plays a common man, Surya Prakash, who’s wrongly accused of murdering an influential person. The film has a solid supporting cast in the form of Varalakshmi Sarathkumar, Vinay Varma and the trailers have generated good buzz already.
Naandhi’s release comes at a time where Tollywood is embracing change and the success could go a long way in helping audiences see an Allari Naresh perform with greater vigour in a wider variety of roles. This is the side of the actor that audiences have been willing to see for a long time. February 19 is a crucial day for team Naandhi and Allari Naresh in particular.