In Baahubali, the women are really, really strong
Tamannaah Bhatia is a well – known face in Hindi cinema, owing to her recent Hindi film roles, but in the South, she has garnered a huge fan base. One of the few southern actresses to have commanded roles of equal footing as the heroes, Tamannaah has walked away with critical acclaim in most of her work. But in a far cry from what she’s known to do, Baahubali turns the doe – eyed actress into a female warrior full of grit and fervour. She spoke to Pandolin about being part of the epic movie, and her expectations from it.
How does it feel being part of such a massive venture?
It’s a very prestigious thing to happen. I feel lucky to have been chosen from so many people to be a part of the movie. In Baahubali, the women are really, really strong. And I am doing an out – and – out action role, so you’ll see me doing a lot of action scenes which is very new for me. Basically this film is very visually driven. Dialogues are much less, but the emotions that the characters play on are very basic human emotions. That makes it palatable for any kind of audience because it’s not culturally bound..but it’s essentially a very Indian film.
What kind of costumes did you have to don for your character?
I don’t wear any jewelry but I carry an armour. And I have a sword as well as a bow and arrow, since the film takes place before gun powder. So that weighed a lot. My getup would take three hours to get into. It was difficult when the weather conditions were not conducive. We shot an entire large episode of my work in the rains. Normally, rain is artificially created in movies. But when it’s actually raining, it becomes very difficult to shoot and normally people avoid that. But in our case we were shooting in actual rain. So doing action in that kind of a grungy ambiance was completely new to me.
You’ve done roles equal to the hero in Telugu movies like Happy Days and Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam. And now you’re doing this role of a female warrior. Would you want to do an out – and – out woman – centric film?
Yes, of course. But I think women – centric films cannot be made for the sake of being women – centric. They have to be palatable to a large audience and that’s possible. There was Queen and Kahaani, which had a lot of meat for the females to bite into but was also something that reached out to a large audience. So something in that space.
Your role is that of a female warrior. Do you also have a romantic track in the movie?
Yes. I do. I have a romantic track with Prabhas. Prabhas plays two roles in the movie, one of Sivudu and the other is Baahubali, so I’m paired opposite Sivudu.
How was it working with Director S S Rajamouli?
I have never met a person like him before; a person that I wanted to be like. He’s somebody who strikes such an amazing balance between his personal life and his work. Most of his family has helped making the film. The first AD is his son. The music director is his cousin brother. The line director is his cousin brother’s wife. The costumes are done by his wife. So it’s an entire family trying to make the film. So, each member of his family is as crucial, cause if they weren’t there the film would not have been made like it was. He’s somebody who inspires me to be like him because he puts effort without actually looking out for an expectation or reaction. He busies himself on the creation rather than concentrating on the reaction to the creation.
Do you feel that when actresses make transitions from South to North, directors in Hindi cinema don’t take them as seriously as other actors?
It is true. There is a sense of ‘oh she’s a South actress’. That does happen. I was born and brought up in Mumbai but everyone thinks I’m from the South. There is a certain hangup that preexists from doing South Indian films, and I guess it takes one person to break that barrier. But there isn’t much you can do about it. All you can do is up your game and hope that it gets noticed.
How does it feel having Karan (Johar) associated with the movie?
It feels great. Firstly, this movie is huge. A war film like this has never been made in India before. And, these kind of visual effects have never been used in an Indian film before, and it’s a very expensive film from the perspective of it being regionally made. So, that kind of money being spent and Karan coming in, giving the movie his name and presenting it pan India means a lot to us. Only Karan could have given the kind of projection the film needed. And we were very excited that our film is being presented by someone like him, that our generation has grown up idolizing; that was reassuring.
Period films have not often been accepted warmly before. Do you think that will change with Baahubali?
The thing is if this kind of a movie is not made well, and with conviction, people won’t accept it. You cannot typecast that response to the kind of movie it is. If it’s a horror film and it’s not well made, it won’t be accepted. It’s a good film or a bad film. So, I feel that generalizing it is not fair. And not many people have attempted this, for there to exist a trend. And the ones who have, may have not done a job that the audience approves of. We’re hoping that we’ve made a film the audience would want to watch. Moreover, the kind of movies Rajamouli has made, have been remade in Hindi for example, Rowdy Rathore or Son of Sardar. His content has the reusable factor cause the screenplay is so strong and he makes use of basic human emotions. So that’s what we’re hoping works for us this time, apart from the visual effects which are state – of – the – art.
How was the feedback for the trailer like?
I feel that while people have been taken aback by the trailers, they just have a faint idea of what the movie will be like. Because they’ve seen this onTV. If you see the same promo in a theater, they’re bound to have a different experience, because this movie is made for the big screen; you cannot watch it on TV and enjoy it. So we’re hoping that people go to the theatre and watch the film.
What part of the shoot was the most memorable for you?
For me, my entire Mahabaleshwar shoot was the biggest takeaway. I stood in actual rainfall the entire day. I’ve never been so alive on set. Even in front of the camera, there was a lot going on inside me. The entire weather and the ambiance just added to the effect.
There is a song in the movie which is said to be the most expensive song in Indian cinema and that people can only see it in the theaters. Can you tell us something about it?
If you see the trailer, there is a shot of a waterfall with Prabhas just leaping into the waterfall. That is an actual glimpse from the song. It is the most breathtaking song I have ever done. And even I don’t know how beautiful it will be, because the set was digitally created except what Prabhas and I are standing on. Which is why none of us know what it will look like except that one visual that we have. In Telugu it’s called ‘Dheevara’, not sure what it’s called in Hindi.