Panja Vaisshnav Tej, actor Chiranjeevi‘s nephew and Sai Dharam Tej‘s brother, who makes his acting debut with the upcoming Telugu film Uppena, said he never had to struggle to get a break in the film industry.
Talking to Silverscreen India, Vaisshnav Tej said, “Buchi Babu (Uppena’s director) said that I was his first choice for the film. When he wrote the script he wanted a new actor, someone with a fresh face. He then saw my pictures on Instagram and I got a call from Sukumar garu (producer of Uppena) and that’s how it went. I have never struggled in any way. So, what I have and what I got, I am very lucky for that. I just put a photo on Instagram, I didn’t do much and the director recognised me, he got me this role.”
Uppena is a love story but with a “sprinkling of commercial value” to it, said the actor.
The film also stars Vijay Sethupathi and Krithi Shetty.
“I play a fisherman in the film and the girl’s character belongs from an upper caste. The film explores how the guy’s love is pure and how he doesn’t have any other intentions towards her other than that love. The plot revolves around the love story of these characters and how her father is against it. It’s about the journey Uppena and Prema go through with all the twists and turns and hardships they face,” Vaisshnav Tej said.
Tej said he didn’t always want to be an actor. “I wanted to be a lot of things. From a scientist to gym trainer to kickboxing coach, I have wanted to be a lot of things over the time period. I even wanted to be a normal 9-5 office-going person. I thought of every other occupation than the film line.”
Stating that he was lucky to get a good script in his first film, he said: “I was never interested in acting so I never wanted to make it a point or prove anything. I realised this script had a good story and then Chiranjeevi was like ‘Just take the opportunity’. So I went ahead and did it. Before this, I got a couple of offers but I was not sure because there weren’t any solid scripts. So when I got Uppena, I went ahead with it.”
After Uppena, Vaisshnav Tej will be seen in a film directed by Krish, starring opposite Rakul Preet Singh, for which he is currently dubbing. “We shot from August last year and continued for 45-50 days. The movie is currently in post-production.”
Uppena will release in theatres on Friday. The actor told Silverscreen India that there was no doubt Uppena would be a theatrical release. “The producer was very clear that he wanted to release the film in theatres from the beginning. There was no thought to go to OTT.”
Talking about his shooting experience, Vaisshnav Tej said that he was kept on his toes during the shoot. “I never relaxed because the team was super fast and they knew what to shoot. So I had to be prepared with my dialogues the night before and the best part was everyone were such good actors that I had to do equally good performances. It was challenging but it was a wonderful experience,” he said.
Uppena is produced by Sukumar in collaboration with Naveen Yerenini and Y Ravi Shankar, under their respective banners Sukumar Writings and Mythri Movie Maker.