Prashanth Neel: Salaar 2 will be made after the result of Salaar 1 Ceasefire

Prashanth Neel delves deeply into Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire, produced by Vijay Kiragandur's Hombale films, addressing criticism, the film's grandeur, the stars, the technicians, and more
Prashanth Neel: Salaar 2 will be made after the result of Salaar 1 Ceasefire

The way director Prashanth Neel has become a household name in the country, one might be surprised that he is just three films old. But since those three films are Ugramm, KGF Chapter 1 and KGF Chapter 2, we understand the ascension. Prashanth, who is carefully and exponentially growing with every project, is now primed for the grand release of his biggest project yet, Salaar: Part 1-  Ceasefire.
Ahead of the film’s release on December 22, we caught up with Prashanth to understand his expectations, his nerves, and of course, his promises to the audience who wait for every little update from his end about his stellar lineup. “Be it Ugramm, KGF, and Salaar, each of these films is crafted with equal affection for the stories rather than just passion for filmmaking. I hope audiences relish it, and I can continue entertaining them.” 


There has been a constant, steady stream of opinions about Salaar since its inception. Comparisons with Ugramm’s plot, and KGF’s production design were prevalent too.

This perspective comes from how my first three movies shaped my filmmaking style. I understand people think the look, feel, world-building, and even the character portrayals, especially the villains, are similar. However, Salaar is definitely a departure. I’d go as far as to call Salaar the finest drama I’ve ever crafted. It’s no secret that I’ve drawn from Ugramm, specifically its essence—not as a remake but as a retelling of that narrative.

So, why choose to narrate Ugramm again through Salaar?  

I always envisioned the audience watching Ugramm in a packed theatre. That vision was not fulfilled during its release (2014). I couldn’t move forward without doing justice to that particular story, even though I had other tales in mind. Ugramm holds a special place in my heart. I wanted Ugramm to reach the heights of KGF. Of course, I don’t see it as a remake. I’ve made significant changes to suit Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran. Some might criticise my idea of mixing Ugramm’s story and KGF’s style of making in Salaar, but I see it as a compliment because both movies are my creations. I built those worlds and all the characters within them.

Were there other factors that made you choose to remount Ugramm in this scale?

Back in 2014, when I made Ugramm, the pan-Indian concept wasn’t yet prevalent. Ugramm faced piracy within 15 days of release, with many resorting to seeing the film on their electronic devices. They didn’t experience the film on the big screen. KGF opened new avenues for pan-Indian movies, and I realised I shouldn’t let my best stories languish on YouTube. I believe no one else would have approached Ugramm the way I did. Scaling up Ugramm to create Salaar was solely about enhancing storytelling.

Was there a fulfillment?

Nobody wants to stick with one subject for such a long time. It’s either been Ugramm or KGF for me since the beginning of my career, and I didn’t want to be confined to that. I understand people will compare Salaar to Ugramm. Those who aren’t fond of me will always believe the original was better. People who’ve seen the original might not appreciate a different version, and that’s understandable. Looking back now, I’m very content with the film and the actors I chose for the various characters.

Was it one of the reasons you chose to make the film and cast stars outside the Kannada language?

Of course! How could I retell the story in the same language?

How did the collaboration for Salaar unfold with Prabhas?

Prabhas had watched KGF Chapter 1. Producer Vijay Kirangandur and distributor Anil Thadani initiated the collaboration with Prabhas. I had expressed to Vijay Sir my desire to retell the story of Ugramm, and when he inquired about potential actors, I mentioned someone who could grasp the vastness of the subject. Although the story wasn’t fully developed then, I had shared about 10 lines with Prabhas, and he admired the character. He appreciated the sacrifice and the essence of friendship in the narrative. Immediately, he suggested that we needed someone of significant stature for the friend’s role, which lead to the inclusion of Prithviraj Sukumaran.

Did you make any script or movie alterations specifically to cater more to the Telugu audience, given that it's the primary market for the film?

As a filmmaker, I believe emotions remain unchanged whether I'm working on a Kannada, Telugu, or Hindi project.

Salaar has been certified ‘A’ for the violence...

Honestly, I was initially disappointed. I sat quietly in front of the censor officer, contemplating the argument to present. Later, I realised that the drama and emotion escalated to a level where such violence emerged. It was something I designed, and that was what was required. There isn’t senseless violence. We placed the violence where it was necessary, and not just because it was a mass film.

But it is the human emotions that drive the violence in all your films...

Whether you’re making a film on Mars or in Khansar, those human values, when conveyed correctly and executed with drama, always resonate. Yes, along with violence too. I’m not capable of portraying a family drama in any other way. I’ve been attracted to that kind of cinema since childhood. However, I just can’t depict violence just for the sake of it. It doesn’t work either.

There are speculations that Yash is part of Salaar...

I am not creating a multiverse. If I were, wouldn’t that be the catchphrase to attract more audience? Why would I keep it a secret? I know many people won’t believe me until they watch the film. No part of KGF is in Salaar. There are a few technicians, a couple of actors, and of course, I am part of both Salaar and KGF. Let me be clear, Rocky is not part of Salaar.

You have stuck to your KGF cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda and composer Ravi Basrur in Salaar too...

Just because we had something in KGF, it doesn’t mean we’ll replicate it in Salaar. Ravi Basrur is probably one of the best judges of the movie’s tempo and is always my first critic after I edit my film. We consider the scene and the film’s essence, and he asks for some time before coming up with a piece. For instance, there is a tribal setup in Salaar and he has devised something special to reflect that world. Bhuvan too is someone who wants to do something different every single time. He understood that Salaar would be darker than KGF. I think Salaar is Bhuvan Gowda’s best work.

Another pivotal aspect of your films is the efforts in the editing...

What we did before doesn’t matter at all. Every film has its edit pattern. Everything must align with the film. I want to completely immerse you in the world of Salaar, and to achieve that, I need every aspect of the craft to synchronise.

The unexpected combination of Prabhas and Prithviraj is getting the right kind of hype...

I believe it was a casting match made in heaven. I was ecstatic when Prithvi Sir agreed to star in Salaar. Being a superstar himself, it’s a very challenging role for him. Even though Prithviraj isn’t playing second fiddle and has an equal part, I felt that if Prithviraj were not a director, he might not have accepted this. He believed in the story and lent his support to Salaar.

Has Salaar 2 gone on floors?

Salaar 2 will be made after the result of Salaar 1. We can’t take the result for granted. I am nervous as hell while having this conversation. Salaar 2 has to revolve around those two characters, Vardha and Deva, and I genuinely hope people will support the first one, permitting me to create part 2.

Can you provide some insight into NTR31?

I don’t want to answer that now. I am making a film with NTR. However, predicting the timeline is uncertain. Currently, he is engaged in a film and has also signed a Hindi project. Therefore, I need to assess the situation carefully. My immediate focus is to release Salaar, followed by a break.

Fans of Prashanth Neel want to know if a return to Kannada or an entry into Hindi cinema is next on cards...

I have no intention of defining myself in that way. Whatever I do, I’ll do it on my terms, not based on someone else’s definition of the industry. I’ve been self-focused since Ugramm came out. Back then, as a young director, I wanted to do something for the industry, but I realised it didn’t work that way. I want to work for myself. Regardless of where films take me, I want to do it for myself. KGF’s ambition was not mine. It came from Yash and Vijay’s Hombale Films.

You have written Sriimurali’s Bagheera. Do we expect more such Kannada stories from you in the future?

The point is not about Kannada or Telugu. I am deeply rooted in Kannada. But, I’m not obligated. Just because I make a Kannada movie, I don’t become the best Kannadiga. The Kannada film industry is a small part of Kannada itself. There are various other ways to represent Kannada, right?

Regarding the recent teaser of Bagheera, is there anything specific you’d like to highlight or share?

Yes, I watched it. It’s particularly impressive. I wrote the initial line of Bagheera, but everything else is the work of Dr Suri. He’s returned after a decade and is completely in sync with modern cinema. The world needs to realise why Hollywood has been successful for over a century. It’s because the director isn’t necessarily the writer of the film. The director’s vision shapes the film. I’ve always maintained that it’s not just the story; it’s how you tell it. That’s what cinema is, and that’s what Dr Suri is doing—expressing his vision.

Finally... will there be a Prashanth Neel film revolving around love, and lighter themes?

Salaar marks my fourth love story. Isn’t love for mother in KGF a kind of love? Or love for your friend in Salaar? It might seem like I have a penchant for violence, but no one would watch a two-and-a-half-hour KGF filled only with violence. It’s not a showreel; it’s an emotion. The same principle will apply to Salaar.  

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