Born to thrill
He is the Baahubali of the country while she is the queen of many hearts – and, when they work together, there is bound to be much anticipation. With their multi-lingual sci-fi thriller Saaho hitting screens, lead actors Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor speak to Anita Britto about the grand scale of the film, the excitement and their equation while prepping for the thriller
Prabhas, Saaho follows after a huge, globally loved magnum opus like Baahubali. This film is also set on a very grand scale; was it a conscious decision for you to choose Saaho right after Baahubali?
Prabhas: No! I did not want to do another big-scale film for like another three or four years post Baahubali. The truth is that I really wanted to be part of a film which would be a love story. But then Sujeeth told me the screenplay of this film which has action along with romance. I said yes and then we started working on it. The film just got bigger and bigger since then.
Was Saaho initially supposed to be only a love story which then ended up being a story with action and romance?
Prabhas: No. I thought I could do a love story next after Baahubali, I really wanted to but I could not get a good script in that genre. And till then, while I was looking for it, I found the script for Saaho.
Shraddha, you have been part of many big films before but this is, by far, the biggest. Does it feel different and is there added pressure?
Shraddha Kapoor (SK): This is actually my biggest film in terms of scale and for many other reasons. The pressure is definitely there. When any movie of yours comes up for release, you do feel a certain kind of pressure. You are aware of the fact that all the work that you have put into a film is now going to be out there for the audience to see. It will be out there to be judged or accepted or loved or there will be times where it will not be accepted by the audience too. So, the period before the release of any movie is always a very stressful time!
Did working with a pan-India star like Prabhas add some more pressure?
SK: (Laughs) It did actually!
Prabhas: What?! Pressure? I gave you pressure?
SK: No, not at all! It was, in fact, just the opposite of that. It was amazing to be a part of a film like Saaho and Prabhas has been even more amazing to work with. The way that he is, as a person and the way that he approaches his work, his craft as an actor, is just great. The amount of passion he has about something that he likes or finds interesting is amazing. You know, when he gets excited about something, he gets supercharged about it and claps and it is just so nice to see that kind of passion. It has been amazing to work with him. This is my first Telugu film and the entire team has been a dream to work with. The kind of welcome that I received from them was so warm. The whole experience has been very memorable. I have given two years for this film and the journey from there to here has been fabulous.
It must have felt different for you to give so much time to solely one film.
SK: Actually, not many people know this but, my first film, Teen Patti took more than this to make. The film took about two-and-a-half years but yes, after that Saaho is the film I have given this long a time for.
We saw the trailer in several languages and it is evident that it is not dubbed. Was a plan to shoot it in different languages there right from the beginning?
Prabhas: No. When we were shooting for Baahubali, we were thinking that whatever region it works in, wherever it works, it would be fine. But we got such amazing responses from all across the country! And this time, when we had time to plan it at a bigger scale, we ending up spending about Rs 350 crore.
Does this big budget, this particular scale, make you nervous or doubt yourself ?
Prabhas: (Laughs) That is why I did not want to take up a project which has so much pressure, especially after finishing Baahubali. We thought that we would shoot it quickly with about Rs 150 crore but it kept going up and because of the kind of quality we wanted, we could not compromise.
The producers are my friends who are madly passionate about this project.
You did separate shots for the different languages. Was it a challenge to get the emotions right each time?
Prabhas: How right we got it, how good we were at it, remains solely for the audience to judge for they are the viewers. They will give the final verdict and that will vary. But yes, it definitely was a hard task to accomplish.
For actors, and me especially, acting is all about being in the moment. I am more of a spontaneous actor. For me, I can give a maximum of two or three takes. The one advantage is that the language changes so it helps. And for both of us, performing in languages other than our conventional was very exciting. Shraddha got excited with Telugu and I got excited with Hindi. All this helped a little but it was very difficult.
This will be Sujeeth's second directorial venture and both of you are established actors. What made you believe in him and his craft, especially with such a big project at stake?
Prabhas: He penned the screenplay and his writing, how it flowed, was very interesting. And after Baahubali, I thought it was very important to have a film which has a strong screenplay, especially when it caters to all kinds of audiences.
SK: When I heard the script, I was completely blown out of my mind. I was so excited about this film because I have not done anything like this before. And nothing like this was offered to me before too. I am playing a Crime Branch officer and it is very different from any character that I have played earlier in my career. The film has such extensive sequences and we were working with international action directors as well, which made it even more exciting. Our director Sujeeth is so young and as you mentioned, it is his second film. But, he worked on it and has made it with such passion that his connection to the script, to this film and his immense hard work will completely come across when you watch Saaho on screen.
Lines separating film industries are blurring now. Nevertheless, Shraddha, what is that one thing that Bollywood should learn from the south film industry?
SK: I think there is something that I have noticed, which really is a very endearing quality about Prabhas, and that is how grounded he is as a person. It is a quality which is actually very inspiring for me. Despite being such a huge star of our country, being loved across the state and national borders, he is a person who likes to keep it all very low-key. It is a quality that I personally think is very nice.
And Prabhas, what would you have the south film industry take away from the world of Bollywood?
Prabhas: I think the planning aspect of a film is much better there than it is here. The scheduling and planning of everything is strong and many of our assistant directors were from north India. Saaho is a film where so much planning was needed and that is something that the Hindi film industry can do much better than us today. And, I am saying this from whatever experience I have had.
SK: I also feel the kind of love, respect and warmth with which the south industry welcomed me was very fulfilling. Over there, when they speak to each other, there is such respect and love which comes through. That softness that they have is comforting and inspiring.