He is the Baahubali of India and she is the crush of many, so when they work together on a film it will surely be something to watch out for. As the multi-lingual sci-fi thriller Saaho readies for release on August 30, lead actors of the film, Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor speak to Anita Britto about the grand scale of the film and their equation while shooting together for over a year
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 3-4 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 to it and then we started working on it. The film just got bigger and bigger post that. (Smiles).
Was Saaho initially supposed to be a love story and then it 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 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 I would say 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. So yes, the pressure is very much there.
Did working with a pan-India star like Prabhas add some more pressure?
SK: (Laughs). It was actually!
Prabhas: What?! Pressure? I gave you pressure?
SK: Not at all! Not at all. It was in fact just the opposite of that. It was amazing to be 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…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. It is my first Telugu film and the entire team has been a dream to work with. The kind of welcome that I got from them was so warm. The whole experience has been very memorable. It has been two years now that I have given 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 the plan to shoot it in different languages 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 response all across the country and we had time to plan it at a bigger scale this time and then finally it ended up being around Rs. 350 crore.
Does this big budget, this particular scale, make you nervous or doubt yourself that what if it…
Prabhas: (Cuts in). (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 in 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, that remains for the audience to say. They will give the final verdict on it when the film comes out in theatres. 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 to three takes. The one advantage is that the language changes so it helps. And for both of us, we got excited about performing in languages other than what we usually do. Shraddha got excited with Telugu and I got excited with Hindi. All this helped a little but it was still very difficult.
This will be Sujeeth’s second directorial 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 how it flowed, the way he had written it, 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. I think Shraddha should also tell us how she felt when she first heard the script.
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 it 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 in between film industries are blurring now. But if you had to, 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 is that he is just such a grounded person. It is a quality which is actually very inspiring to me. Despite being such a huge star of our country, being loved across the state borders 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 in the North. The scheduling, the planning of everything is strong and many of the 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 is better at than us today. And this I am saying from whatever experience that I have had.
SK: I want to add one thing here. I feel the kind of love, respect and warmth with which the South industry welcomed me was very nice. Over there, when they speak to each other, there is such respect and love which comes through. That softness that they have is very nice.