– RINKU GUPTA
He became a household name across the country, after playing Mahendra Baahubali in the 2015 film Baahubali :The Beginning. Now the tall and handsome PRABHAS, hero of one the biggest Indian films, is set to play the father, Amarendra Baahubali, in the prequel Baahubali :The Conclusion. Easily the most anticipated film of the year, the tri-lingual is set to release in around 8500 screens globally on April 28 th . Raising the bar with its grand canvas and gripping storytelling, the film succeeded in changing the nation’s view of regional Indian cinema. In a candid chat with Prabhas, we manage to get a peek into the five years he dedicated to this mega project.
Baahubali undoubtedly has held centre stage in his life, ever since he heard the script five years ago from director Rajamouli. Once the project began, Prabhas gave it his all, refusing any other film. The belief in his director paid off when Baahubali hit the screens uniting audiences across the globe, under its spell. For a film so significant, we ask Prabhas, that if he were to pen his memoirs, what would he write under the chapter of Baahubali ? He thinks for a moment before replying, “ If I ever write a book on my life, I think, not just one chapter, but almost half or at least thirty percent of that book would be on Baahubali! There is so much to say about this journey, it’s not easy to encapsulate it.” The actor knew that Rajamouli’s story had a magical quality when he heard the story from him. But he wasn’t prepared for the tremendous response it received, ripping the nation’s North-South divide in cinema in one go. Says he, “I always felt we were making something very big. But at the time, even I didn’t realize how big it really was, till the magic happened with the audiences! Maybe Rajamouli understood it all better. But for me the audience response to Baahabali was way beyond all expectations!”
Rajamouli has revealed that the 2 parts of Baahubali, actually comprise one long story, which could not be narrated in just one film. Did the movie leave an impact on the actor? Were there changes he felt within himself as he played the dual roles? “Yes of course. We all grew up during the making of Baahubali. We completed four birthdays on the sets! ( smiles) We became more mature over the years. This maturity helped me improve my performance and understanding of the 2 characters. So I grew as an actor as well,” says Prabhas.
Any mention of Baahubali conjures up the image of Baahubali lifting a huge Shivalinga on his shoulders. Prabhas physically built himself with intense body workouts and even gained weight and muscle mass to fit the part of the invincible Prince. In part 2, he shot for intense battles and a final war scene that took 120 days to shoot, complete with weapons and body combat, taking on the powerful Bhallaladev, played by Rana Daggubatti. What did he find most challenging? “There were of course, physical challenges of these long battle shoots. But more than physical, it was the mental challenge that was greater for me. We all wanted the product to come out beautifully. But with such a mega project, the thought of the budget going overboard, was a pressure we always felt. Since we collectively felt a sense of responsibility we followed a discipline. Right from being on time for work every morning, to sticking to the schedules diligently, we shot very methodically. In that sense, it was like going back to school, but with a whole lot of love for what we were doing,” he smiles.
Mahendra Vs Amarendra
We have seen him as Mahendra and now look forward to watching the powerful and venerated Amarendra Baahubali in part 2. How different is one from the other? Prabhas gives us an exclusive peek into what is to come, “Both father and son are very strong mentally and physically. But they are different in several ways. Both grew up under different circumstances and they think very differently from each other. Mahendra is destiny’s child. I would say, he is like a thunderbolt, he reacts quickly, like lightening. On the other hand, Amarendra is a deep person, who keeps everything within himself.”
When we ask him about director Rajamouli, his eyes light up as he says, “ Rajamouli is my guru. He’s a great director and a beautiful person.”
The audience’s expectation meter is on an all time high as everyone is waiting to finally find the answer to the question ‘why did Katappa kill Baahubali?’ For it’s going to be a culmination of five years of work on a project which was challenging in more ways than one. Staying with the characters of Baahubali for so long, how is he feeling now that the prequel is soon to release ? “There is a little tension about how the audience will receive it! But more than that, it’s a great sense of excitement !” he laughs. And what is the first thing Prabhas will do, after the excitement of the release is over post April 28 th ? “I will go on a holiday! The destination is not decided but plans are afoot,” he smiles.