He was a star in the Telugu film industry but the phenomenal success of ‘Baahubali The Beginning’ (2015) and ‘Baahubali The Conclusion’ (2017), Prabhas became a known name across the country and elsewhere. His new film ‘Saaho’ is his first film since the second film in the ‘Baahubali’ franchise and hence, the expectations from the film are huge. In this interview, the shy and polite actor talks about the film, the possibility of a third film in the ‘Baahubali’ franchise, dubbing in Hindi, his favourite Hindi films and more.
‘Saaho’ is your first film after the two ‘Baahubali’ films? Do you it can beyond that as far as box-office collections are concerned?
‘Baahubali’ created history and it might be difficult to go beyond that. If that happens, we will be more than happy (smiles). We were aware of the fact that the audience would be expecting a lot from the next film I do after ‘Baahubali’, so we spent two years in making ‘Saaho’. We have tried our best to present a high-concept, technically sound action film to the audience. We hope the film manages to entertain them and live up to their expectations. It is easy to bounce back after a flop as the audience’s expectations are in check. However, when you have two huge films behind you, the pressure to deliver another success is huge.
‘Saaho’ is a multilingual film and technically, your first Hindi film. Do you plan to do more work in Hindi cinema?
If ‘Saaho’ works and is accepted by the audience, I would like to continue doing multilingual films for a pan-India audience. I would love to do Tamil or a Malayalam film too. It all depends on what I am offered. I think if the script of a film is extraordinary, it will work everywhere. I started my career in Tollywood and worked hard to get accepted by the audience in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The success of the two ‘Baahubali’ films has helped me reach out to the Hindi audience and I hope they accept me the way I have been portrayed in ‘Saaho’.
As evident from the promos, ‘Saaho’ has some tough action scenes. What kind of training did you complete?
‘Saaho’ is an action film but the preparation was very different from that of ‘Baahubali’. For ‘Baahubali The Beginning’, we shot the war sequence for 120 days. I had to learn horse riding and to do rehearsals for the bow and arrow sequences. ‘Saaho’ is a contemporary film and the action is very different from ‘Baahubali’. There was a lot of training involved but the technicians, who came from different countries, had to do a lot more preparation than the actors.
Films like the two ‘Baahubali’ films and ‘Saaho’ take a lot of time to be made. That also means the audience does not get to see you that often.
I want to do at least one film a year. After ‘Baahubali The Conclusion’, I was hoping to do a love story which would take lesser time to shoot. But, then ‘Saaho’ came along. I loved the script and thought I cannot let go of it. At the end of the day, the quality of the final output is important and we try to do everything in our capacity to make sure the film shapes up well. ‘Saaho’ took two years to be made and I think when you see the film, you will also feel the time taken to make the film was justified.
You don’t watch your films on the first day of their release.
Yes, I get very stressed up when a film of mine releases. I usually watch it on the second or the third day. You put so much effort into making a film and then, when it releases the whole world judges it. Things can go either way. It can be lapped up or rejected by the audience. It is as scary as waiting for your board exam results.
Let’s talk a bit about ‘Baahubali’. I recently learnt that you started shooting for the second part before the first part took off.
Yes, we started shooting ‘Baahubali The Conclusion’ before we commenced the shoot for ‘Baahubali The Beginning’. That famous scene in which Devasena (Anushka Shetty) in the second part loses her temper was one of the first scenes we shot. We shot for ‘Baahubali The Conclusion’ for 20 days and then we started shooting for ‘Baahubali The Beginning’. We had thought of shooting both the films together and releasing them one-by-one but then, we realised the budget was going over the roof. Then, we decided to shoot one film at a time and hoped that the first part would make enough money for us to make the second film.
There is a Netflix show being made which is a prequel to the first film. Is there a possibility of another film in the franchise?
I do not know. Rajamouli will be the best person to answer this question. Even if that happens, I do not see that happening in the near future. The two films took four years of our lives. Making a third part would be as difficult.
A couple of years back, dubbed films from the Southern film industries did not do very well. But now, post ‘Baahubali’, things have changed completely. The lines between Hindi cinema and regional cinema are blurring and you see Bollywood actors working in south films.
It is great to see this change happening. In countries like America or Japan, there is just one film industry. Here in India, there are so many industries. We should try and make more films that can reach out to every nook and corner of the country. Tomorrow, the biggest Indian film might come from Punjab.
You didn’t dub for the Hindi version of the ‘Baahubali’ films but you have spoken as well dubbed in Hindi for ‘Saaho’.
I loved what Sharad (Kelkar) did with the Hindi version of the two films. His voice suited me very well. For a period film like the ‘Baahubali’ series, the language had to sound authentic. The dialogues were in chaste Hindi. ‘Saaho’ is set in the present times, hence speaking in regular Hindi was not that difficult. I love the dialogues which Hussain Dalal has written for the Hindi version. I have studied Hindi in school and can read and understand the language. First, they gave me the script in English and I told them to give me the one which is written in Hindi. They were surprised to learn that I could read Hindi. I practiced Hindi dialogues for several days. I had a trainer with me while rehearsing the lines and during the dubbing process too.
Which have been your favourite films?
I love ‘Sholay’. Among the recent films, I loved ‘Dangal’.