Samantha Akkineni on Jaanu: I did not copy Trisha

Gabbeta Ranjith Kumar
Samantha Akkineni

Samantha Akkineni's Jaanu hit screens today.

After watching 96, Samantha Akkineni thought to herself that nobody should remake that movie in any language. When the actor was offered the lead role in the Telugu remake of 96, she even made several excuses to avoid singing the movie. But, now Samantha is glad that she did not pass up on the opportunity, as she describes Jaanu as "one of the most important movies" of her career.

Here are excerpts from Samantha's conversation with the media:

Tell us about your experience of shooting for Jaanu.

The movie is about two people. I am used to being in films populated with 30-40 characters. But, this movie has only a few characters. So, the performances (of the lead actors) had to be amazing. The risk was high given that the movie entirely depends on me and Sharwanand, and the director Prem Kumar. Jaanu is a great team effort. I felt some magic from day one of this movie, and that magic continued till the end of the shoot. At the end of each day, I also felt content that I gave my 100 per cent as an actor. I think the audience will also feel that magic.

Did you met Trisha before signing the movie?

I did not meet Trisha in person. I had no idea that Dil Raju garu had bought the remake rights of 96 when I watched the original movie. I liked it very much. The performances of Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha were superlative. Even though Sethupathi's performance was amazing, I felt that the movie belonged to Trisha. I also had written back then that 96 should not be remade in any other language. And that's why for many days, I did not meet Dil Raju garu. I kept making excuses because I knew I can't say no to him if he asks me in person. But, I am happy that I agreed to this project. I would have regretted if I had refused to do Jaanu. This is one of the most important movies of my career. This is also one of the best performances of my career.

Between you and Trisha, who do you think has played the character of Jaanu better?

It's not about who is better. But, I did not try to copy Trisha. I was very clear about it from the beginning. I did not watch 96 again. I refused to see the movie again, and I even left sets when somebody played the Tamil movie there. I never wanted to see anything of it again, because her performance was so amazing. And it would never work even if we try to imitate her. Since it is a remake, we had to understand Jaanu from a different point of view. That's what I did. And, I don't think people will compare my performance with Trisha's. I hope not!

What homework did you do for Jaanu?

I would have asked 1000 questions to the director about Jaanu's family life. I read and re-read the script, and I worked on her backstory as much as I could. The director was always very patient and answered all my questions.

Did this movie make you nostalgic about your high-school romance, if any?

High school love? Everyone will remember their first love. I think that is the greatest USP of Jaanu. It will connect with everyone regardless of their age.

How was your experience of working with Sharwanand?

As I said earlier, it is just both of us in the movie most of the time. We were dependent on each other. We pushed each other to deliver nothing but the best. I think no other actor could have recreated the magic of Ram.

Is it true that there were discussions to change the climax for the Telugu version?

No, we never discussed that.

Tell us about your experience of working with Prem Kumar.

Prem Kumar is a magician. The story of the film is simple and has nothing new to offer. But, it has the honesty, intensity and only he could have recreated that magic with the remake.

Tell us about your role in The Family Man season 2.

You will see a new Samantha in season 2 of The Family Man. My character needed me to perform a lot of action and doing that was very hard and stressful for me. I did not use a stunt-double for any scene. My character might even have a negative side as well.