Prabhas: Superstars can do regular films too
In this interview, the actor talks about his upcoming film Saaho, compares it with his previous blockbuster Baahubali and explains the dubbing process of both films
Prabhas is leaving no stone unturned in promoting Saaho, a film dubbed as being among the biggest this year. At his suite room in a star hotel in Chennai, his assistant lets me in on how Prabhas stayed deep into the night the previous day, on account of interviews. He looks fatigued and sleep-drived, but soldiers on. "I have been travelling and giving back-to-back interviews," he says, smiling, and waits for the first question.
Excerpts from the interview:
What, according to you, makes Saaho a unique film?
To be really honest, I don't really know. How unique Saaho is, is something fans have to say. What I can say is that it will be a commercial film with a racy screenplay. The action and screenplay are the most interesting parts of this film.
You are also making your Bollywood debut with this pan-Indian film. Does this expansion restrict your freedom in choosing scripts?
Actually, it's the opposite. I feel I have more choices now as far as scripts are concerned. This will expand further if Saaho works. People assume that if an actor does a superhero film, he cannot do a regular film. But even the biggest superstars of Hollywood have stepped into the shoes of Batman and Superman and gone on to do regular films that were accepted by the audience. The script is all that matters. When it comes to pan-Indian films, there may be regional differences, but again, if the script is good, it will work. Also, I’d like to mention that I am very much on doing regional films too.
For an actor who has had at least one release a year since 2002, how strange was it to have just two releases in your last six years? Does this change the dynamics of how you work?
Yes, it does. The original plan was to have Saaho release a year after Baahubali. But that gap has ended up becoming two years. This is why I have already started working on my next film and have even completed 30 days worth of shoot. The film will be out next year. It's a retro-style film based in the 60s and 70s. It's something we haven't seen in Indian cinema. At heart, it is a love story.
Baahubali was a physically demanding film for you. How does it compare with Saaho?
Baahubali was harder than Saaho because every day, we had to shoot action sequences. There were war sequences, horse-riding scenes… We had to constantly wear a helmet, cover ourselves with armour. Also, mentally, we were not sure at all how the film would be received. There was also that stress. Saaho is a film set in the present, and follows a more commercial format. The stress is very much the same, as it is coming right after Baahubali, and has been made at a budget of Rs350 crore.
I understand that much of the budget has been spent on shooting action. Tell us about the nature of these sequences.
We have tried to show action with a sense of realism. Be it in the chase sequences or in the fight choreography, we want the audience to feel pace and energy. We have brought in some of the best technicians from around the world, who have collaborated with our technicians to come up with inventive plans for the sequences.
Much like Baahubali, Saaho too has a star-studded cast from multiple languages.
The biggest advantage of doing such a film is that we get to rope in some of the best actors in the country. With talents from multiple languages, the audience should feel that it's their film. Moreover, some of the characters demand that people come in from different backgrounds. I like a cast comprised of members from several regions.
You have dubbed for your lines in Hindi as well. How challenging was that?
I am comfortable speaking Tamil; so dubbing for Baahubali was easy. I can read and write Hindi, a language that is used quite heavily in Hyderabad. The dialect is different though. I found dubbing in Hindi to be an interesting task. I had never done that before.
You said you are not a method actor and so it was not hard to get out of the Baahubali hangover. Are you able to switch on and off effortlessly?
I did not feel the pressure of Baahubali too much, despite it being the longest film I have done in my career. I had a gap of four years for that film, so I comfortably pulled it off (smiles). During the last month of the shoot of Baahubali, I wanted to do something else. And then, Saaho happened. Switching between characters has never been a problem for me.