Nagarjuna Thallapalli adds the most necessary ‘sound’ to films. A trained technician, he is proficient in sound design and sync sound. His expertise brings the entire movie experience together as we know how sound can emphasize a scene. He is part of the team of invisible soldiers behind the colorful fantasy that is films. He may not be visible, but you feel his contribution and talent through listening and feeling. Nagarjuna has the story of a simple boy who wanted to do his best in life while being part of the glittering Film Industry. He made his presence known with quiet preparation and the right attitude. He is now part of a new generation of films and is on the rise along with the rise of new sound techniques and their implementation. Let us know more about this individual whose work happens silently but deserves full volume once done.
More than family
Nagarjuna was born into a humble family with love in abundance. His father Krishna Murthy is an LIC agent by occupation. Mother is Vijaya lakshmi. He was born on 8th Oct 1989 in Hanamkonda.
His hometown is Kesamudram, a small town somewhere around 50kms from Warangal. As there are no proper facilities for education in Kesamudram, his dad sent him to the best residential schools. Consequently, most of his education during childhood happened at residential schools in Warangal. This defined him as a person.
Nagarjuna’s dad took good care of his education and Health. Admiring his father, he quips, “my dad is my first friend, I don’t call him dad, I address him with his name, such is my rapport with him.” He had always trusted his son with his academics as well as behaviour.
When Nagarjuna told him about his decision to work in the Film Industry while still a teenager doing his 12th, dad was very supportive. However, he was advised to finish his degree first. Fully considerate of this, he got admission into BTech in ECE.
Nagarjuna also has a sister who is married. When they were children, she was always affectionate about many things, the simplest example of which is watching TV. She and his mother always let him watch whatever he wanted with no care for their own wishes. Though he remembers it fondly, he also feels embarrassed for not realizing his ways.
Biggest torch bearer
During his days of struggle in the Industry, Nagarjuna had no projects or films in hand. At this time, it was his sister who used to call and motivate him. She was so eager for his success that she regularly prayed for it. He amusingly admits that she even sent his horoscope to several Pandits and asked them about his future.
Practical education is the best
True to his promise to his dad, Nagarjuna completed his education with flying colors. He did his schooling from Greenwood High school, Hanamkonda. Intermediate was completed from Gowtham jr College at Vijayawada and Btech in BIT, Narsampet.
Proving his dedication towards his choice to get into films, he reveals that he received an email from the company CapGemini for a position as networking Engineer after his graduation. He was certified in Hardware And Networking. However, he did not respond, marking his detour to this path.
Importantly, he also did his PG certificate course in sound recording and TV engineering from ‘Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.’
With education completed, he felt the best experience he had was in FTII. “It’s a practical based course,” he says. They used to do projects together as teams and discuss films Everyday. Here, they made lots of mistakes while making the projects and the professors were very happy to help them in understanding what went wrong. According to the technician, “It’s like we made all the common mistakes in the course and learned about them then and there. Overall that’s the best Education one can get.”
A story teller inside
Sharing memories from college, Nagarjuna said that all his friends used to call him ‘Director saab.’ He used to narrate stories to them whenever they felt bored of the class. Humorously, little did they know that the story he narrated was published somewhere in a weekly magazine or a novel. “I used to read a lot of books and novels only to narrate them the stories they don’t know,” he revealed.
Travelling and sudden long drives, trips and vacations to Silent places are his other Interests. He had travelled to six countries on road for a documentary film Shoot. This was an experience of a lifetime.
Nagarjuna has other hobbies too, which are cricket and video games. He loves to play video games whenever he has free time. He happily says he has a good collection of games on his PC. He also plays cricket with his filmmaking friends once every two weeks. That is a big stress buster.
For Nagarjuna, it was his dad who was there with him all the time. He used to send him financial assistance until the age of 27. Only after ℅ Kancharapalem released he gained full financial independence.
His dad’s love knew no bounds. In 2013, he had a heart operation, and yet he never asked his son about a job. Nagarjuna did not like this, he shared. He was dependent on him till 2018. When he looks back at those days when he made no good use of his time in Yousufguda, he gets chills down his spine. During that phase, he never knew what he was going to do, with no contacts in the industry. Still, it was his dad who made life easy.
Enlightening us on the skills required to find success in the industry, he says its communication skills. “If we don’t know how to behave with people, definitely then there is going to be a problem.”
Only role model
Nagarjuna has one role model in life, which is his dad. He had never let him down. Financially, he was a pillar behind him so that he wouldn’t feel any pressure in the Film Industry.
Earlier, even when he scored low marks in school he never berated him. Instead, he always asked him to try better next time. He never compared him with other kids around him who performed well in academics. “He even asked me not to compare myself with others.
It’s only because of him I was never depressed or stressed,” he says.
Much needed boost
Nagarjuna did 2 films before ℅ Kancharapalem. It was only after that film that he found confidence regarding his career. He says that sync sound and sound design is something that is very rare or in other words, almost not present in Telugu films.
After meeting young directors like Maha, Swaroop and few others, he got to know that the younger generation of directors were very keen with Sound design in their films. It’s such instances that built his confidence in his career.
An eye opening experience
Nagarjuna had his fair share of struggles in the Film Industry. He feels it is definitely tough here. “Being an Alumni of FTII, I thought survival in the industry would be easy. But it’s totally a different scenario.” He was with no work for almost 18 months after he passed out from FTII.
During this time, he used to share a room with few other fellow filmmakers like Raviteja (Editor of ℅ Kancharapalem, Pellichoopulu and more), Adithya(DOP), Vishwak who is directing his debut now and Sri Tejashwi (Assistant director of Radheshyam).
Everyone was struggling in those days, he reminisces. “I am really happy that these guys are making good films in the Industry now.” He also shared space with venkatesh maha, Vinod Anantoju and Subash Chandra. It was always a healthy environment back then even though they had all struggled, he says.
First steps into the Industry
After his patient waiting, Nagarjuna finally got his first chance. It was in a film called Bommalaramaram. He received a message on Facebook one day asking for his number. The EP called him to inquire whether he can work on a small film like this. Taking up the opportunity, he did that film. He then earned praise from the director, particularly his work on Ambient sounds, which most of the Telugu Films miss on.
Being his first movie, it is always special for Nagarjuna. Since then, there has been no stopping him. Till date he has worked on around 16 films. Speaking about them, he shares that every film is different from the other. And yet, the effort was the same in all the films. “If I have to choose my best work among them, I am going to say all of them are my best.”
Well earned position
Nagarjuna was patient for many months before doing his first film. The path that paved his way towards the position where he is in now is the connections and communication. “I tried to build more and more contacts around me and maintained a healthy relationship with directors,” he states.
Nagarjuna always wanted to work in Films. Before, he worked as an editor in a local news channel in Hyderabad and ended up doing a course in Sound at FTII. It is at that place that he was taught about how there is more in sound to tell a story. “That’s how I developed more interest in Sound,” he says and planned to establish himself here. He tries to convey something through sounds in every film of his.
He feels lucky to have worked with many directors who are willing to experiment with sound. He also wants to be a Documentary filmmaker and might step into that direction soon.
Food for the soul
Nagarjuna takes a happy approach towards feedback. Many people applauded him for his work done in ℅ Kancharapalem. Chandrashekar yeleti sir complimented him on his sound design work for his latest work ‘Check.’
“These are things which make my soul feel as happy as receiving an award,” he says.
Current and upcoming projects
The recently released ‘Wilddog’ had a positive talk around the Film circles. He is currently working on an untitled film based on the Skylab incident as Production sound recordist.
Further, Nagarjuna signed for films like Sehari, Pushpakavimanam, Vivahabhojanambu and Marmaanuvu. A few other projects are under discussion.