– Rinku Gupta
The Baahubali warrior princes, villain Rana Daggubatti and hero Prabhas have larger-than-life presence on screen. Thanks to their screen image, anyone would think that they could be intimidating hunks in real life. But cameraman Madhie, who cranks the camera for Rana’s Ghazi and Prabhas’ next, tells us how far removed they actually are from their on-screen avatars. In a chat with Madhie, we get a peek into the lesser known sides of the duo.
Madhie recalls his interactions with Rana (who plays a naval officer) on the sets of war film Ghazi, “I had earlier met Rana on a flight during the shoot of Baahubali. We got talking and he chatted with me fluently in Tamil. Even then, I had noticed that he had absolutely no airs despite being from one of Tollywood’s leading film families. When I met him for the shoot of Ghazi, this impression was further reinforced. Despite the huge success of Baahubali, he still retains the same friendly, boy-next-door air.”
The Ghazi crew shot in gruelling conditions, “We made a 100 ft long submarine set which had 30 actors and 50 crew inside for 12 hours each day! With hardly any air to breathe due to the narrow, closed spaces, you can imagine the tough conditions (on sets): it was sweltering, with the body heat of so many people, no sunlight or fresh air, topped with harsh camera lights. It was Rana who told me that it’s important for our health that we step out of the shooting floor to get sunlight and fresh air, every two hours. He didn’t limit his interactions to just work. During lunch breaks, he would give us health tips on best food combinations and insist on offering dishes to taste from his dabba. I found him extremely endearing and grounded. He would insist that I shouldn’t work out in the gym but instead exercise in fresh air as we were already working 12 hours everyday in claustrophobic conditions of the submarine.”
Shooting underwater scenes for long hours was another tough call the actor took without any tantrums. “For the underwater scenes, Rana had to dive in and shoot in a giant pool on sets, for long periods of time. Now staying underwater is very tough for any artiste and takes its toll on the body. Apart from that, whenever a shot was being set, he had to come out and wait with wet clothes on because it wasn’t practical to keep changing into fresh, dry clothes several times a day! Rana never made any fuss about it. When our set was damaged, he cancelled his other shoots and allotted fresh dates to us. His patience and understanding were a boon. All through the shooting of Ghazi from his entry to pack-up, I have never seen Rana tired, moody, dull, upset or angry! He is a very openhearted person and always cheerful. He had a certain charming childlike fervour and enthusiasm which is a far cry from his serious and fierce roles on screen! “.
Prabhas’ dubbing hack
The ace cameraman who has worked on hit films like Paiyaa, Srimanthudu and Run Raja Run is now busy with the recce for locales for Baahubali hero Prabhas’ next, known as Prabhas19. We hear that the film will be shot in Mumbai, Kerala, Hyderabad and later in Europe and Dubai. This being his second film with Prabhas post Mirchi, Madhie has gotten quite close to Prabhas. The Baahubali Prabhas is quite reticent in real life. Madhie says, “Prabhas is one of the most sensitive, sensible and soft- spoken people I know. The world may know him as the mighty Baahubali but his aggression is only for the role. In real life, he is so soft-spoken that he will deliver even a vehement and loud dialogue softly. He will do the required shouting only during dubbing. His shooting spot is usually very silent and even a small noise will disturb him.”
Madhie has nothing but praise for Prabhas’ caring nature, “He calls his close friends ‘chellam’. Many a time he would invite me to his guest house for an informal discussion. But right in the morning, he would call and ask ‘chellam, what would you like to eat at dinner tonight?’ He will then make his cooks fix an elaborate meal with 10 dishes! He always has several close friends around and loves to entertain them.”
As an actor, Prabhas is a perfectionist. Says Madhie, “He is very clear about his role and discusses it at great length. On the sets, he is a cameraman’s delight! He is very particular about camera angles and knows exactly what pose to give, and where to give it. He is very sensitive about the way his character is portrayed on screen and takes care to study all aspects of its presentation meticulously in advance. Once you work with him, you are hooked and want to repeat the experience again and again!.”