What makes Prabhas the most wanted star?
Prabhas is all heart and unrelentingly affable. And there’s one unavoidable truth about him. Despite the incredible degree of his stardom, he’s as unpretentious as they come – perhaps because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. However, there’s more to the actor than what meets the eye, and when the famously press-averse heartthrob decides to talk, there’s no stopping him! “Hello andi…bagunnara…chaala rojulu tharavatha (how are you doing…after a long time)” greets Prabhas. And that irresistible charm and casual demeanour sets the tone for our chat as the young rebel star insouciantly gives us a glimpse into his much-anticipated project Baahubali, impending marriage and Bollywood. Sashidhar Adivi gets up close and personal with the elusive star in an exclusive interview.
Prabhas excitedly recalls his first interaction with Rajamouli on Baahubali. “Six years back when Rajamouli was making Magadheera, he told that me that we are doing a big film. Later, he told me 5-6 lines and everything seemed big and larger than life. Three years back, he narrated the film’s plot line for about 20 minutes and explained 3-4 characterizations and scenes and I got goose bumps. I thought being a part of such a big film is like once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Never before has a Telugu actor undergo ne as dramatic a physical transformation as Prabhas has. Mind you, even for a superstar, it was not easy to essay the dual role but clearly, Prabhas seems to have pulled out all stops to prepare for the role. “Six months before getting into the shoot, I started preparing for the role and did a lot of homework. I had to develop a Hulk-like body for the father ‘Baahubali’ (father) and a toned physique for his son ‘Shivudu’ (son).
I interacted with wrestlers of WWF in the US to get a hang of their training regimen. I observed the wrestlers, their work-out sessions and imbibed their mindset and body language to build bodies like them. I worked out for approximately 4 -5 hours daily with various fitness techniques focusing on different muscles of the body. I became very strict with my diet and there were times I survived on 40 egg whites (half boiled) for breakfast, added with protein powder every day. I was trained in a lot of sword fighting with Vietnamese fighters. Peter Hein choreographed the action sequences.
I was also trained in kick-boxing,
kung-fu, horse riding, sword fighting, rock climbing, etc,” explains Prabhas.
Weathering the storm …
Prabhas had to endure a lot of physical suffering while filming the action sequences, and has even sustained injuries. “After 250 days of shoot, I felt like enough was enough, let’s just watch the film. I used to get frustrated and ask Rajamouli to show me some visuals to see how it shaped up,” the actor confides.
Continuing in the same intense tone, he says, “For ‘Shivudu’, I had to weigh around 85 odd kilos, and for Baahubali I had to be around 95-99 kilos. It was indeed very difficult and challenging, particularly because of the time constraints. I had little time to show variations between the two roles. I had to undergo shoulder surgery in between. I had been enduring shoulder pain for 3 years and it got very acute while shooting for action sequences for this film. And when the pains became unbearable, I decided to go for a shoulder surgery. It wasn’t easy to stay focused for such a long time for everyone but we used draw strength from Rajamouli’s vision and the resolve of Srivalli (line producer) during tough times. She used to take care of us and we used to find motivation in her. Since we know that we are doing the biggest film, everyone walked the extra mile to make the film look extraordinary.”
Rajamouli has a beautiful soul
Evidently, Prabhas can’t get over Rajamouli and understandably so, after being associated with him for a long time. Holding the director in high esteem, the actor articulates, “I have known Rajamouli for a long time but during this film journey, we understood each other better and bonded greatly. We used to indulge in long conversations and share a lot about films and other personal things. He’s like my guru, mentor and has a beautiful soul. There’s an emotional connect between us. I remember, there was a time when Rajamouli said, “Darling…chaala hectic gaa undi” (Darling…it’s getting hectic). When someone like Rajamouli said hectic, you can imagine the scale of work.”
Prabhas says that he also found a best friend in Rana Daggubati. “I had met Rana two or three times before but we became friends during the first schedule. As the film progressed, we became best friends. He used to be a great source of entertainment for everyone on the sets and we shot together for more than 180 days. But whenever Rana was not in the shoot, I used to feel like ‘How am I going to have fun without him around?’ (Smiles)”
Away from the family!
The actor admits that he could not spend enough time with his family during Baahubali shoot, but says that they stood by him throughout and encouraged him. “Initially, we thought we could finish the film in 2 years but it went on and on…I used to go in the morning to the studio and spend most of my time there. I did not give much time to my family during that period. But they understood what was in store when I told them about the scale of the film. Not just me, the entire crew did the same,” Prabhas elucidates.
He also reveals that his family was initially apprehensive about his action sequences but later, they were curious to see the film. “Yeah, my family was worried about my action sequences but they understood and supported me well. They know that this is one of the biggest films ever made on celluloid and so they were very happy with me being part of such a film. In fact, my family was so curious that they kept on asking me ‘When is the release?’ (Laughs). It was the discussion point at all my family get-togethers. In fact, the entire unit is eagerly waiting to see the film and see the audiences’ reaction,” the actor adds.
It’s tough to predict life after Baahubali and the actor admits the same. “Even I don’t know how life would be after this film! (laughs) Let’s wait for the release and see. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But Prabhas will always be Prabhas no matter what. I have a couple of films lined up – one directed by Sujeeth. The script is almost locked and we’re trying to get into the pre-production. There’s another film I have committed to with Gopikrishna Movies production,” the actor reveals.
Cameo in Bollywood
Prabhas made a brief appearance in the Hindi film Action Jackson, directed by Prabhu Dheva. The lanky lad grooved along with Sonakshi Sinha, in the song ‘Punjabi Mast’ but the director had kept the actor’s appearance under wraps until release. Prod the actor on how it happened, he explains, “Prabhu Dheva sir is my close of friend and one day, he called me and asked me to come to his house. I was on a break from shooting and it was post my surgery. He asked me to show off some of my dance moves for his numbers. I said I just want to come there and stand, and finally, he gave in to my request.”
Coming to something more personal, his impending marriage for instance and the actor remains tightlipped about it. “Soon…one fine day…Nothing is going on as of now but I’ll tell you if there’s anything interesting happening on that front,” quips Prabhas.
Once a star, always a star! Prabhas, we love you!