NTR Jr. (‘RRR’) on global ‘phenomenon’ and what he calls ‘the toughest scene in my career’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“Los Angeles has always been a vacation spot for me,” says NTR Jr., (aka N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) the star of S.S. Rajamouli‘s worldwide blockbuster “RRR.” “We have family here. We used to come and just visit them and leave. Today, thanks to this phenomenon called ‘RRR,’ America and the mecca of filmmaking, Los Angeles, has become a second home and workplace.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE ‘RRR’s’ ‘Naatu Naatu’ leads Oscar odds for Best Song and would be just the 4th foreign-language winner

“RRR” is a fictitious story about two legendary revolutionaries, Komaram Bheem (NTR) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan), and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s. With a $72 million budget, it was the most expensive Indian film to date and grossed $175 million worldwide. It is nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the upcoming Critics Choice Awards on January 15.

“Both of us needed to look our physical best,” NTR says of himself and Charan. “Training for the body took about 16 months to achieve. I was eating about 3,500 calories a day, day in and day out, doing the same thing over and over again for 16 months. The challenge was when the pandemic hit. The toughest thing was holding that body, which we had built, throughout the pandemic. We had three waves. We were in a lockdown three times in two years. That was hard.”

SEE Oscar predictions: Why India’s ‘RRR’ could ‘rise, roar and revolt’ despite no Best International Feature submission

One of the most memorable scenes of the film is the dance sequence to the Golden Globe-winning song, “Naatu Naatu.” NTR reveals he has been a professionally trained Kuchipudi dancer since the age of six. “I have done songs in my career that have more complicated steps than what ‘Naatu Naatu’ has. ‘Naatu Naatu’ is not about the complication of the step itself. It is the synchronization. The world went berserk seeing that synchronization. ‘Naatu Naatu’ is not just a song. It is a movie, a story by itself. He’s making a movie about two friends. Once two guys are really true friends, you really don’t need to see each other, look at each other, copy each other. You know what the other is going to do. It’s like two heads with one body. That is what he wanted to show in that song.”

When asked about the scene where his character, Bheem, is whipped in public, NTR says, “As an actor, that was the toughest scene in my career. The whole process of getting flogged, the song. Bheem has to show anger, helplessness, pain, sorrow, bitterness, and all this has to be told with a smile on his face. He cannot stop smiling. If you look at that song he just doesn’t stop smiling. He’s like ‘Bring it on! You can’t bring me down. Do whatever you may but you cannot bring me down on my knees.’ That was truly the toughest for me as an actor so far and that is one of the performances I will carry for a very long time in my career.”

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