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Inspector Rishi star Naveen Chandra interview: I credit Evaru and Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava for my journey from hero to actor

Actor Naveen Chandra talks about his upcoming series Inspector Rishi, his journey from hero to actor, and more 

Inspector Rishi star Naveen Chandra interview: I credit Evaru and Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava for my journey from hero to actor
Naveen Chandra

Last Updated: 09.19 AM, Mar 27, 2024


Actor Naveen Chandra may have debuted as early as 2012 through Andala Rakshasi, but the actor unarguably has the most satiating body of work in recent times. After playing a misogynistic abusive husband in Ammu, a flawed drunkard in Month of Madhu, and a menacing police officer in Jigarthanda, among the one-off roles, Naveen Chandra is now stepping into playing the traditional heroic role with the Prime Video series Inspector Rishi.  

With the supernatural crime drama set to premiere on March 29, Naveen Chandra in conversation with OTTplay, says, “My childhood was spent in Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, and though there were only seven theatres in the district and major exposure was to Telugu cinema, every world cinema released there. I recollect seeing Jurassic Park, Clint Eastwood films…My mother being a film buff made us watch Rajinikanth sir films, Amitabh sir films, and all languages. Somewhere I was watching stories, but as an actor when you enter the industry, there are expectations on how a hero should look. When Andala Rakshasi was released, I wanted to be an actor, but they made me a hero and built a lover boy image. But that was not my cup of tea as I wanted to be a part of good stories. Even with the hero baggage, I began to explore roles, but after the lockdown, I got more such scripts and with directors approaching me with such stories, I am just welcoming it.” Naveen adds once he got recognised as an actor and followed his works, opportunities began to pour in that would bring different facets as an actor.

On Inspector Rishi

A big fan of thrillers and psychological horrors, Naveen Chandra mentions that jump scares and horror comedies have never flattered him. “Stories should be somewhere real, and make people think about it, what the story is trying to tell. I was also looking for such scripts and when Nandhini JS had narrated Inspector Rishi, it fit the bill,” he adds.


The actor says his character, Rishi, is a seasoned criminal investigator and job-oriented officer. “He is also mysterious and the character is quite layered. He doesn’t talk much and prefers to observe his surroundings. He is calm and composed even in tense situations,” Naveen reveals. Further elaborating on his character, Naveen says that his role is sceptic and does not believe in supernatural presence. “In the trailer, if you see when everyone is believing Vanna Ratchi is killing the people, Rishi is rationally and logically analysing the case. And when it comes to me personally, though I believe in negative energy, I don’t believe in ghosts and supernatural activities. I have not experienced,” he adds.

Inspector Rishi also marks Naveen’s first series in Tamil. Speaking about working with Nandhini, he says, “She and her eight ADs who are also women pulled out such a huge series that is heavy on VFX. There were 50-60 women in the crew, and the terrain we shot was not easy. We were shooting in Munnar, and we shot for long hours without vanity vans in the forest. We fell down, but we got up and worked as much as we could.”

Naveen on doing series

Naveen finds there is a huge difference between doing a film and a series because the latter must be shown with a detailed screenplay and the engagement factor plays a huge role. “In theatres, you can have interval and climax, but here every episode has an interval and climax. The series must be that good to make you hooked on, just like how you do that with certain films in theatres. At the same time, going to theatres is a huge thing and stars in India are doing a great job by doing that. During lockdown time, many of my films were supposed to hit theatres, but came out on OTTs and those were hits. But I think now you should select content as per the platform,” he adds.

Naveen on acting chops

The actor, who was seen as ruthless cop Rathna Kumar in Jigarthanda DoubleX, elaborates how he tries to gather material for his roles in different specific ways. “If you see Rathna, I know of cops who do not have the baggage of family and living or dying. All they want is to satisfy their ego. If you see Chetan sir’s role in Viduthalai, there are such officers and I know people like Rathna Kumar. Once I process the character and available information, you perform. I expected the hatred for my role in Jigarthanda and it worked. In the case of Month of Madhu, my father is a mechanic and after all his hard work, he has to have a drink or two to relieve himself from pain. I have seen some men in my childhood, who were addicted to alcohol and had also quit their jobs. My character Madhusudanan sees alcohol as comfort and a way of escapism. He might love his wife, but it was a different way. In the case of Ammu, I have seen many men who are alpha males and show off the most to women, as they change colours within four walls. It was my wife who urged me to play this role and it is a rare opportunity to represent such men. Many women had spoken to me about the role. As an actor, I try to live just on the sets and be normal otherwise. When a director takes months to write a character, I feel it's my responsibility to at least live it until my pack up,” Naveen elaborates.

Naveen calls his journey as that of from a hero to an actor, and credits the likes of actors Manoj Bajpayee, Irrfan Khan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Fahadh Faasil and the scripts they bring in. He adds, “It is so inspiring to see them do roles closer to reality and keep the audience hooked to their performances. I was planning for this, and I knew that good scripts would come and I should be prepared to be an actor, be experienced by not wasting the time of production.”

The actor credits the process of the 2019 film Evaru that gave him the transition. “It was a dark thriller starring Adivi Sesh. It was a small-budget film and all of them were involved. I credit Adivi Sesh who broke the stereotype. Then Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava with Junior NTR, also gave me the recognition as an actor. Those films made a difference in how people saw me. Until these films, people only recognised me with Andala Rakshasi's role, but after Evaru and Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava, people saw me as these characters. From then, I realised that I should do my character without any inhibitions, be it one or ten frames.”

Naveen's upcoming films

Talking about shooting with Shankar for Game Changer, Naveen says that every schedule is a learning and has grown as an actor while conversing with ace technicians. He also credits the filmmaker along with Mani Ratnam, Rajinikanth, and Kamal Haasan, whose films were releasing worldwide even before pan-India had become a phenomenon. He adds, “Pan-India might be a new word, but the practice has been there for a while. But I think what Kamal sir was trying to do with the digital medium in his films like Vishwaroopam, is happening now. Viewership has grown and all the actors are reaping the benefits of this language cross-over. Actors can now explore talents across industries and RRR going global is just a start.” This has also paved the way for the south industries to gain their due limelight instead of being under the shadow of Bollywood, feels Naveen Chandra, who recollects the times shooting abroad and outsiders clubbing all the industries into one.

Up next, Naveen has Tamil-Telugu bilingual Eleven which is in post-production, Satyabhama with Kajal Aggarwal, Neelira with Eelam Tamil director Someetharan backed by Karthik Subbaraj, and Ram Charan’s Game Changer. “We have sent Neelira to the festivals, and it is one film that I am looking forward to. On the other hand, Game Changer is the biggest production I have been part of and it is sheer technical brilliance. People might say Shankar sir would shoot only a couple of shots a day, but I have seen him finish 96 shots in three days and shoot a couple of scenes a day. He is jovial and a very friendly person,” Naveen signs off.

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