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Sai Chand on Virupaksha: I almost said no to the film, Sukumar believed in me | Exclusive

The Maa Bhoomi actor is all praise for the execution of the first-time filmmaker Karthik Dandu

Sai Chand on Virupaksha: I almost said no to the film, Sukumar believed in me | Exclusive
Sai Chand in Virupaksha
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 09.12 AM, Apr 22, 2023

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Maa Bhoomi, Manchu Pallaki actor Sai Chand returned to films after a long sabbatical with a commendable performance in Sekhar Kammula’s Fidaa. Cast as the on-screen father of Sai Pallavi, his heart-wrenching performance rightly earned many admirers among Telugu audiences and he was flooded with offers from several corners.

Yet, the actor, who already established himself as a globally acclaimed documentary filmmaker, wasn’t greedy and bided his time for the right script. Six years since Fidaa, he’s only acted in six films but has made every opportunity count - his appearances in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Uppena, Konda Polam and Virata Parvam didn’t go unnoticed.


Now, the veteran has another hit in his kitty with the Sai Dharam Tej, Samyuktha starrer Virupaksha. He plays a head priest in a village in the thriller and his performance is receiving rave reviews upon the film’s release. “I almost said no to the offer. I wasn’t quite sure of the scope of a priest’s role in a mainstream film. When the team said it’s a character with a strong authority and that it was Sukumar who suggested me for the part, I was assured and said yes immediately.”

Sai Chand recollects it was a joy to be on the sets of Virupaksha. "The role brought out a different spiritual side to me. I didn't even wear slippers during the shoot. I dedicate this performance to Goddess Durga." Being someone who’s witnessed both the film and the digital eras of the industry, he wasn’t quite flattered by some of his shoot experiences (in terms of planning, execution) in the recent past. However, the clarity of Virupaksha’s director Karthik Dandu truly surprised the Ankuram actor.

“He was so thorough with the script and the ground work that he made our job very easy on the sets. He gave us a bound-script before hand, knows every line from it and explained the variations/modulations in the dialogues to all actors on the location. Karthik has been working on the script for over five years now and Sukumar and his team took every effort to fine-tune it,” Sai Chand shares.

“It was like working with someone from an earlier generation, he has complete command over the job and handled the execution like a seasoned filmmaker. Even in scenes where we had lengthy dialogues, Karthik preserved our energies and informed us about the pauses, reactions of the other actors in advance. He’s quite aware of an actor’s practical issues and brought out the best in us,” he adds.

"I've known Sai Dharam Tej as a kid and worked with his brother earlier too, it was wonderful to see two siblings who're raised so well." Even on the technical front, Sai Chand feels Virupaksha had a competent team that took care of the little nuances that enhanced the impact of a scene. “I’m relieved it’s performing well at the box office. While I’ve received praise for my performances, it’s ultimately important to be a part of a successful film and the producer needs to make money out of it.” His last hit was Uppena.

He’s quite content about his stature as an actor now and states he wants to do a film for the right reasons. “I get calls from several newcomers to be a part of indie films, experimental projects. Even Sekhar Kammula asks me to do films with new filmmakers often. Young or experienced, it’s important that a character excites me. I don’t take up films for money but to satisfy my creative urge. Forget audiences, I want roles that stay with me beyond the film,” he avers.

The grandson of social reformer Tripuraneni Ramaswamy and son of legendary Telugu writer Gopichand, Sai Chand also does his part to rekindle the current generation’s understanding of our cultural, literary roots and is quite passionate about the Telugu language as well. He recently undertook a padayatra from Chennai to Potti Sriramulu’s native village (in Prakasam district) in honour of his sacrifices for a united Andhra Pradesh.

On the work front, Sai Chand has signed another film with Sai Dharam Tej, a light-hearted entertainer besides a unique father-son drama alongside Sudheer Babu.