Baahubali will be remembered for years to come
For those well-versed with Telugu cinema, Prabhas is synonymous with light, family entertainers. His ability to carry off action, and aggression is well noted, owing to the actor’s naturally intense appeal. But with Baahubali, he will be attempting something hitherto undone in Indian cinema. Playing a dual role in the country’s most expensive cinematic attempt might seem challenging, but the trailers already have had people looking up the graciously tall actor. Prabhas got speaking to us about the highly anticipated period drama.
This is your second movie with Rajamouli, after Chatrapathi. How was the experience like, since both the movies are poles apart?
Chatrapathi was a small, medium-budget film for its time and it had a simple 80 to 90 day schedule, with very little action. But Baahubali is so much larger in scale. Besides, Rajamouli evolved as a director from Chatrapathi to Baahubali. If I had to compare, the entire movie of Chatrapathi would be equivalent to a single scene of Baahubali, considering the amount of effort and detail that went into the latter. They’re both that incomparable.
At the audio launch, Rajamouli credited your presence in the movie as an important factor that led to its completion. What do you have to say about that?
I take that as a compliment. And yes, I am very important for this film. If I was stressed or frustrated, it would have definitely affected the outcome of the movie. When you’re doing a big film like this, it’s important to bottle up your emotions and not let them affect the shooting and the morale of everyone involved. I’m very happy that he’s happy with my work.
Your last movie was Mirchi that happened two years back. Post that you dedicated all your time to making Baahubali. Did the idea of dedicating two years completely to one project scare you at any time?
No, it didn’t scare me. As soon as I heard Baahubali’s script, I knew it would take two, perhaps even three years for completion because it’s a massive project. It would be like, after two-three schedules, it would take another six months, and then after five-six months, some more time would be added. So, I always knew it. But that’s the kind of film it is. You cannot hurry through it in twenty odd days. Neither could I have done another film along with it, because first I had to change my body. Since, I play two characters in the movie, that of Sivudu and Baahubali, I had to assume a different physical shape for both.
And most importantly, the kind of schedule they had planned initially, shooting another movie in that frame of time would not have been possible. I also hurt myself in the middle and had to undergo a surgery. So a lot of factors contributed to the increase in its shooting time, which I had always expected. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you ever want to be a part of a film like this, you need to surrender to it completely. You cannot be selective in the time you allot to it. This is India’s biggest motion picture and will be remembered for years to come.
How was your experience working with Rana (Daggubati)?
Rana is from Hyderabad, so I had met him a few times earlier. During the first schedule itself we got quite close and by the third schedule we had become best friends. After a point of time, the source of entertainment for the entire unit was me and Rana, together. Often, it would take Rajamouli to get us to shut up and get serious for the shoot. But it was extremely fun shooting with him. He’s a super entertainer, a very sensitive guy. One of the most beautiful takeaways from this film is mine and Rana’s friendship, as we shot over 200 days together.
The trailer garnered rave reviews. Does that make you excited about the release?
See, I’m primarily a Telugu actor. A little known in Tamil cinema, but otherwise I’m not known in Bollywood or the North at all. So the trailer was very critical in introducing me. At the same time, even Rajamouli is fairly unknown here, so the trailer was an insight into what could be expected.
Karan (JOHAR) representing Baahubali in the Hindi market must be quite the boost for the movie?
In India, the biggest industry is Bollywood. Rajamouli’s Eega, which released in Tamil as Nani, did very well, which helped establish his footing in the Tamil industry. But in Bollywood, Rajamouli’s name alone wouldn’t sell. Karan associating himself to the movie made us so happy, it’s actually a moment of honour. We’re confident of a film like this, but Karan Johar presenting it is a great boost. When Rana gave Karan a brief narration and showed him a few stills, he thought the movie looked like Avatar. He thought this is the biggest motion picture and was very excited to do this, which is a great support for the team.
Did you learn Tamil specifically for the movie?
I know Tamil. I was born in Chennai, so I could speak the language. Except that I was out of touch from it for the last ten years. Some of the technicians I work with regularly are all Tamil.
This movie is your first introduction to Hindi cinema. Are you open to more offers? Do you have a director you want to work with?
Yes, definitely. If I get a chance, I would want to. Getting a chance in the Hindi film industry can be a big thing, I don’t think I an afford to be choosy. But I love Raju Hirani a lot. I’ve seen Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots about a 100 times each. I love his work.
Any memorable moments during the shoot?
The entire shoot itself. I have known Rajamouli for over a decade and we’re very emotionally connected. The entire movie was such an emotional journey in itself. For example, if you noticed in the trailer, there is a shot of a statue being lifted. It’s more than 100 feet high. On the set, they got two industrial cranes to lift it up, and they couldn’t. So they got two more. It took four days to get that done. In Hollywood, the same thing would be done in a few hours. For us, every shot was new. As such a big film was never done in India.