So you’ve just completed this really massive film which is touted to be India’s biggest action thriller. Apart from its scale, it’s also a multilingual. As an actor, can you tell us what’s the best part about working in a film that’s being simultaneously shot in multiple languages?
I think maybe the fact that it is a multilingual in itself. Because you have a bigger chance of your film being watched by the whole country. It’s in many languages so different audiences from different parts of the country are going to watch it. I think that’s a really cool thing. I also think that such films have the power to unite different film industries.
But is it double the effort? Is it like shooting for two films at once?
Yes. It was literally like we were shooting two films at once. For me, I shot it in Telugu and Hindi. But the film was also shot in Tamil as well. It’s a task. There’s so much effort that needs to go in. You do one shot, cut, then you do it again in another language. It was very exciting also, but it’s also double the work. And for me, it was even more so, because it was the first time I was speaking in Telugu. I had to put in a lot of work for that, to learn all my dialogues and completely go thoroughly prepared on set, because I wanted to just do it well.
Were there instances when you felt that you did well it in Hindi, but you couldn’t really crack the scene in Telugu?
In fact it worked the other way around. It’s ironic because I have spoken in Hindi in my films. But I feel my Hindi needs to improve, a lot. In Telugu, I’d learnt my dialogues so well and because I had rehearsed them my director in a particular way, I had become very comfortable. There would be some nuances that would come out which would really work for the director. So I’d feel I had a lot of fun doing it in Telugu so I’d want to try the same in Hindi. Sometimes, the Telugu scene would be much more fun than it is in Hindi also because it was my first time, speaking in a new language.
The decision to act in this movie…was it a tough call to take? I ask this because it’s a film that would require years of your time and also because it’s in a new language. Did you think about this film like you would decide to do a Hindi film?
Yeah absolutely. Just the same because at the end of the day, it’s about the script. If you like a script or a story, you just want to do it. The only difference then is because this was going to be in a new language. Otherwise it’s the same thing.
But it’s still a bigger commitment right? The extra time, the extra effort. Didn’t that factor in your decision?
Not really because our film’s schedule was spread out over two years. There are sequences in this film that required preparation and pre planning, so we did not shoot for those chunks. So I could also do other films while I was doing Saaho. So I ended up doing Stree, Batti Gul Meter Chaloo, Street Dancer, Chhichhore all in this time. So in two years I’ve shot five films. And now I’m going to start my sixth…Baaghi 3. That’s another thing because I’m constantly shooting. I rarely do anything else. So it was required to take that time, because the production was such mainly due to those heavy-duty action sequences.
So in this time that you’re doing this film, how much was it about the excitement about getting do a lot of action? And can you give us a scene or a mad stunt you had to pull off in this movie?
I don’t want to reveal too much right now because if I say how much action I did, somewhere it takes away from the film. But what I could share is that this is the first time I fired a real gun. Of course there were blank bullets. I was very nervous and my heart was thumping, the first time I had to fire the gun. And the first day, when I was firing the gun, it makes a very loud noise and it also recoils like a real gun. It’s also really heavy. So the amount of times I fired it that day, my ears were ringing that night. I couldn’t sleep that night. But subsequently, the more I got used to it, the gun started feeling more natural. Obviously it’s supposed to feel like that for a police officer. It had to feel like an extension of your hand.
Let me give you a choice. Let’s say you have to choose between a massive film like Saaho which requires a lot of time and effort with a smaller film which is very demanding and emotional as an actor, which one would you pick?
I think the only way to pick a film is because of the script. Now if a film requires a certain time duration and you believe in it, you have to submit to its demands. I know that Prabhas gave five years to Bahubali and you can see the results of that. You can see the way the audience connected. That was the demand I guess of that film. If I love a film and if it has the same kind of demand for preparation, I would definitely do the same.
I was looking through your filmography and I think it’s a very unusual, unpredictable choice of films. Is it that you have a taste for all kinds of films or is there some planning going on in the background?
Because you do a film like Haider and then you do ABCD2. You do Saaho and then Haseena Parkar. There’s no predicting what you’ll do next.
I really don’t know. I think I just connected with the script and the characters. That’s what made me want to do it. Also it’s the frame of mind at a particular point of time.
Lastly, can you name your favourite South Indian movie, actor and director?
I actually, in general, don’t watch a lot of movies. I’ve not had the time because I’m only shooting, constantly. I’ve watched Bahubali, and I also watched OK Kanmani, and I love both films. Apart from that, I’ve also seen Aruvi. I really liked that also. That did well here right? Someone strongly recommended it to me. It was made so well. Director I would say Sujeet and actor, I would say my hero, Prabhas. I’ve had a great time working with them.