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Exclusive! Mahesh Babu on Sarkaru Vaari Paata: I haven't had this much fun on a set for a long time

The star discusses what convinced him to take up Sarkaru Vaari Paata, discusses its comparisons with Pokiri and opens up on his career choices, family and more

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 01.49 PM, May 10, 2022

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Exclusive! Mahesh Babu on Sarkaru Vaari Paata: I haven't had this much fun on a set for a long time
Mahesh Babu

Mahesh Babu has never sounded more relaxed or confident about any film as much as Sarkaru Vaari Paata in the recent past. Perhaps it's because everything for the film has fallen in place perfectly - his performance, the music, the promotions and the release timing.

Mahesh is the rare star who doesn’t let his fame come in the way of his scripts and it's no surprise why he’s always referred to as a director’s actor. Even during the promotions of his next, he prefers to give the filmmaker the lion's share of the credit.

In a chat with OTTplay.com, the star opens up on his journey with Sarkaru Vaari Paata, the pandemic, stardom, family and more:

On working with Parasuram:

Many stars can go beyond the story and perform well but I'm content with working within the scope of the script. I always go by the script and do exactly what it demands. I let the story take the centre stage. Geetha Govindam was one of my favourite films and there wasn't going to be any doubt about Parasuram's potential. The characterisation of the lead was very fresh and I could perform without any inhibitions. I haven't had this much fun on a set for a long time.

Parasuram has a tremendous spark in writing. I believe that when a director writes his own stories, they shape up better. The newness of the way the script was designed gave me a lot of enthusiasm to perform. There are a lot of highlights in the film but I would say the romantic track between me and Keerthy is the best among them all. Keerthy Suresh is the surprise package of Sarkaru Vaari Paata; she's a talented girl and I'm sure audiences will have good things to say about her role after the release.

Working on the film through the pandemic:

We went through a lot of tough times while making the film during the pandemic, we shoot every few months and next, we hear of a lockdown. Sustaining the spirit over these two and a half years was difficult. But, I won't exaggerate this by saying that I was the only one to face this issue - the entire world and the industry had to overcome this. Full credit to the team that they've pulled off this film during many challenges.

On teaming up with Samuthirakani and reuniting with stunt duo Ram-Lakshman:

It's a casting choice we're extremely happy out. When I heard the script, we were considering several big names for his role and finally locked him for it. During the shoot, he asked me if he could collect a pair of glasses among many that I have used in the film as a memory. Watching his performance during the dubbing, I felt I could gift him not only my glasses but an entire optical store. He's brought in a lot of freshness to his performance.

Ram-Lakshman have been associated with my career right from the beginning and I respect them because they give priority to the story first and design the action sequences in sync with the narrative. They indeed push you to your limits but what great thing in this world is achieved without sweat and effort?

Why the frequent comparison between Pokiri and Sarkaru Vaari Paata?

The comparison between Pokiri and Sarkaru Vaari Paata is for a reason that the spirit of the characters in both the films is the same, the modulation, the body language and the dialogue delivery. The 'meter' is similar and this is as massy as Pokiri and still, the film is very fresh in its appeal. The entire credit for the film goes to Parasuram and he has come up with a fresh plot around the bank system within the mainstream space that excited me a lot during the narration.

If the dialogue about his struggles to remain young in the film stemmed from his personal experiences:

I don't think that I've struggled to maintain my fitness throughout my career - the reference in the film was just made on a light-hearted note impromptu. Parasuram had come up with the line right on set and it worked like magic in the film. The makers were initially planning to release the dialogue as part of the teaser (launched on my birthday) but I felt it was best to preserve it for the trailer. Now, look at the sensation it has created.

The collaboration with Thaman and the success of Kalaavathi:

Just because the song is a hit now, I wouldn't lie about my reaction when I first heard it. The entire team, including me, Parasuram and others, liked it but we weren't sure how would audiences react to someone like me saying 'Come on Kalaavathi...Come on Kalaavathi' in a slow-paced number. It was Thaman who convinced us all that it would be one of the biggest hits in my career and he was proved right.

For most of his films in the recent past, I've noticed how most journalists have credited Thaman's background music - this happens very rarely for a composer and he has a great ability to understand the pulse of the listeners. He has given his heart and soul to the film and Sarkaru Vaari Paata is one of the most memorable projects in his career.

On feeling drained by the end of the shoot over two years and having to film a song again:

I wasn't restless while shooting for Ma Ma Mahesha. A fast-paced song came in place of another number (Murari) in the film when the team took a collective decision that a mass number would work in that situation. It was a time we were all drained, the shooting had come to a fag end and I already finished dubbing for the film. Thaman suddenly came up with a new number, and we all liked it instantly. I would even thank choreographer Shekar master for even coming to my home to teach me the steps.

When I entered the sets, which were designed by the art director AS Prakash within ten days, I discovered a newfound enthusiasm to dance and that's why you see me so energised and activated throughout it. I didn't experience anything like this before. We also hope to release the other song (which was to come in place of Ma Ma Mahesha) on Youtube shortly.

Sustaining a success streak for over four years:

I've evolved as an actor over the years and it has helped me pick the right scripts. Somewhere, I feel I'm also lucky to have been getting good films and I'm sure Sarkaru Vaari Paata will be an addition to the list of my successes in the last four years.

If the pandemic has changed the way audiences have looked at films and impacted the choice of your scripts:

I don't believe a lot has changed before and after the pandemic. Commercial films always have an audience and go by a pattern - they have their place.

His decision to turn into a producer:

There are a lot of films and stories that I get to hear but I can't associate with all of them as an actor owing to many reasons. The decision to turn into a producer is to facilitate good films and that's the very reason I've taken up Major.

About kids and their career choices:

This isn’t a generation where we can advise our kids to take up or do something. They make their own choices. While Sithara has expressed her desire to act, it was her decision completely and we would do everything to support it. Gautham wants to study abroad and is interested in other things in life. They’re free to pursue their ambitions; I and Namratha won’t interfere with it.

On his upcoming films:

There's immense excitement and anticipation when I and Trivikram collaborate every time and I am waiting to shoot for his film. He's one of the best dialogue writers we have and I don't even have to make an effort to act in his films - the dialogues flow beautifully. We are working on a story that not many would expect from us - it's very different and I'm excited about it. With my film with SS Rajamouli (garu), I hope we break barriers to reach audiences this time too.Doing one film with SS Rajamouli is like taking up 25 films at once. 

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