Allu Arjun needs no introduction. He’s an icon of Telugu cinema, the scion of a legendary film family and one of the best actors of his generation. As he makes his pan-India strides, Maxim caught up with the man who wants, more than anything, to build his own legacy. And, of course, have fun doing it.
It was great shooting with you, Arjun. How did you feel about shooting for Maxim?
Thank you, it was a great experience. To be honest, it’s something that I have always wanted to do, something that’s been on my personal checklist! I’m glad I finally got to do it... a great deal of satisfaction!
We hope we’ve lived up to the hype. You have zealous fans all over the country now, given that your movies have been dubbed in other languages. How do you approach your stardom?
Of course, you did. I’m lucky that I shoot in one region but get to be admired in many more. I’m glad that South films are dubbed into Hindi, where the reach is much more. I would like to make better films in every aspect, and to increase this viewership and fan-base.
You’re known to be very meticulous about your work, but you’re doing many things at the same time. How to you segment your day?
Anyone is only as good as his or her team. I have good people who handle every segment of my day. Above all, the habit of writing daily in my diary really works!
What are your thoughts on continuing a legacy, given that you come from an illustrious film family?
“Legacy” in the film industry cannot be passed on, unless you personally earn it from the people. The earlier generations have worked hard for it, and I understand the value of this position. I would like to take it forward without spoiling the legacy.
Apart from movies and producing, you’re an entrepreneur. How did that happen?
I like this simple saying: “Less routine, more life!” I like to explore the unknown and to challenge myself constantly.
Why did you pick sports, including Tamil Thailaivas in the Pro Kabaddi League and Bengaluru Blasters in the Premier Badminton League?
I respect sports more than movies, in a way, and this is my way of supporting our talent. As a country, I believe we have tremendous potential to dominate the global sports arena, and I wanted to play a small part in that by associating with it.
You’re an avid photographer yourself. Any thoughts on how this shoot’s turned out?
Wonderful, I love the results. I admire photography and I have to say this was a day of learning. I learnt a lot about lighting, the shutter-speeds at which we shot and how we boosted that with lights by keeping the ISO as low as possible. Very, very interesting! We shot with a photographer with great knowledge.
Photography is often about the moment. You travel a lot, so do any destinations or travels stand out?
To be honest, I have a list of my top destinations, because each of them have their own strengths. To me, New York is the best city. As a country, Italy has multiple locations to visit. Ibiza is the best party place I’ve been to. One of my favourite ways to pass time is wine-tasting. And, to me, snorkelling is the best activity. I love to travel with friends and family, and experience great moments.
How different are Telugu—and other southern films—from Hindi cinema... or Hollywood, for that matter?
Emotions are universal. But cultures are different. And, moreover, the North has more urban viewership than the South, so the urban markets are bigger comparatively.
Social media, power lists, awards, covers. What gives you the real idea that you’ve reached a rare level of celebrity?
The success of the movie. To me personally, it is above all else. That’s what we work for, and that’s the best measure of who we really are. Because we are artists, more than anything.
As we were talking, you mentioned that you’re fascinated by architecture and design. Do you dabble in it yourself? And what are some inspirations?
I deeply connect to spaces. I feel every space is a reflection of its own being. There are many styles that I admire but my favourite is the minimalist approach. Our country has a lot of rich culture in terms of architecture and design, which has to be treated contemporarily and be presented to the West.
You’re looking quite the dapper gent in the shoot, and you also have a great sense of style. What does style mean to you?
Style is nothing but a reflection of the personality. Style is not about fashion. I believe your wardrobe should reflect your ideologies.
How do you keep so fit? We know it’s not just for your movies.
“A healthy body is directly proportional to a healthy mind.” I live by that. I am a strong believer in “you are what you eat.” I also believe that applies to you physically and, moreover, mentally.
A lot of people ape your sense of dressing. Does that flatter you or is it daunting?
I love it... and it’s very flattering!
You have a number of projects lined up. What are you most looking forward to?
The current one, always. There is no greater future than the present.
It’s been great shooting with you. Any parting words for our readers?
“Actions speak louder than words. And intentions speak louder than your actions.” This is one of the greatest realisations of my life. I hope all of you realise it soon and experience it, and apply it at every point of your life. And, of course, thank you!
PHOTOGRAPHS: MUNEESH TARSEM
STYLING: NIKITA JAISINGHANI AND PRANAV SOOD
HAIR AND MAKE-UP: ROSARIO BELMONTE