From his days as a quinoa salesman to auditioning for roles in Mumbai, acting in the blockbuster movie Miss. Shetty Mr. Polishetty, to doing a victory jig at New York Times Square, actor Naveen Polishetty shares the account of his filmi journey with WOW!
There are only two unsure moments in Naveen Polishetty ‘s life. One, when he secured a seat at National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. Two, when he landed a job in London. Both were traumatic decisions to follow up as he knew that both would take him away from his first love – acting. Once he decided to wrap up and come back to India and pursue his dreams in Mumbai, there was never a dull moment though.
It was being cast as a girl in a high school drama in Hyderabad that the acting bug bit him. After having studied at multiple schools in the city, he was keen to pursue a course at National Institute of Drama, but his parents – a pharmacy business owner and a banker, convinced him to take up the standard route of engineering, go to the US or UK and settle down.
Although he reluctantly graduated in civil engineering from NIT Bhopal and went on to work for a year in London, he came back to pursue his dreams. Unable to muster up enough courage to break the news of declining a job in London to pursue the uncertain world of films, he led a secret life where he never told his parents that he was India. When they did get to know, all hell broke loose but Naveen decided he would act regardless of other’s validations.
Thus started his journey in 2012 with one-bit roles in Life is Beautiful and 1 Nenokaddine. However he got noticed in the Sushanth Singh-starrer Chhichhore in Hindi. The actor is trending now for his blockbuster hit Miss. Shetty Mr. Polishetty which released in September. Right now, he’s on a high as his movie that garnered two million dollars in the US alone has put Naveen in a different league, especially after he clocked in two more hits before this – Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya in 2019 and Jathirathnalu in 2020.
Congratulations on the success. What are you up to now?
I am savoring the success of the movie plus scoring a hattrick with Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya, Jathirathnalu and Miss. Shetty and Mr. Polishetty. It is a big deal for a middle-class boy with dreams of becoming a Telugu cinema hero. The movie has taken two years to make and I am taking a well-deserved break. Regarding my upcoming projects, I am working on three films right now and shall announce them soon.
What would you tell yourself during your struggling phase in Mumbai? Did you keep yourself away from the naysayers and negativity?
Mumbai auditions can be traumatic as they are held in tiny, dingy audition rooms that can fit 10 people but there are 500 waiting for the auditions. There was lot of clutter around me about my decision to pursue movies and become successful, but I’d tell myself that all that I need to do is attend the auditions and do my bit. I would take one step at a time and my goal was to neither land a project nor get a role, but to simply keep hustling, prepping, and auditioning. I would attend as many auditions as possible – for ads, short films, OTTs, films, etc. as I wanted to sleep without guilt that I worked hard that day. As auditions don’t fetch you money and in fact cost you to attend them, I had to take up jobs ranging from being a live show host to a quinoa salesman.
My mantra was focus on the process, and forget the results, even if it meant doing this for a month, a year, or even a decade. Although family and friends made fun of having an impossible dream of becoming a hero, I drew strength from my own self.
Why are the film’s promotions being talked about so much?
I did a tour of 18 cities in India including 11 abroad, starting from Tirupati to Chicago in 30 days. I also watched the movie with the audience at 70 shows in the US. It was an emotional moment to watch it with my fans, laugh out loud at the jokes and even perform a small stand-up set for them, live. Everything worked out well and #MissShettyMrPolishetty has garnered $2 million and has been trending in the top three in Netflix last two weeks. I did a ‘Thank You Tour’ at Times Square, New York, to meet my fans, but the entire place was choc-a-block with Tollywood cinegoers. It felt like the Telugu people took over Times Square on that day which ended with selfies, love, laughter and hugs. My distributor told me that no other actor had come to the US to promote their film. I am happy I can set a precedent for Telugu cinema in the US cinema market.
“My goal was to neither land a project nor get a role, but to simply keep hustling, prepping, and auditioning. I would attend as many auditions as possible”
BOX: Quick Take
Three hashtags to define you: #Passionate #Hardworking #Ambitious
If you were to play one of the Friends characters, which one would that be: J.O.E.Y
What’s your superpower: That I can walk into any room and make them happy if they are having a bad day. If you think I don’t have this power yet, I am willing to work harder
The three most used apps on your phones: Alarm (snooze button all the time), News apps and Instagram
Your alternate career if not for an actor: Writer, singer, host, director, techie business analyst