Despite the phenomenal success of the 'Baahubali' franchise, Prabhas is still the same person. A man of few words whose simplicity and down-to-earth nature completely bowls you over! At one point during our conversation with him, the superstar candidly confides, 'I am not very good with interviews.'
Slowly as words are exchanged, his warmth radiates in the room. His sense of humour is on point when he mimics his 'Saaho' co-star Jackie Shroff's 'Kya, kaisa hai bhidu' and we are already in splits.
In an interview with Filmibeat, 'Saaho' star Prabhas opens up about his plans of taking up Hindi films, whether if he still feels like an outsider in Bollywood, the enviable female attention and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation.
'I Will Do A Lot Of Pan-Indian Films If 'Saaho' Works'
Q. After 'Baahubali', people have a lot of expectations from you. Do you have a similar feeling as well? Do you think 'Saaho' would be bigger and better than 'Baahubali'?
A. No, 'Baahubali' made history. With 'Saaho', we just want to entertain the audience who saw 'Baahubali'. That would be the biggest thing which can happen. Right now, we are all stressed as we have invested so much time and money to entertain people after 'Baahubali'.
Q. Would we see you know taking up more of Hindi films because right now, you do have a fan-base here as well post the massive success of your last two films?
A. If 'Saaho' works and everything goes good, I will do a lot of pan-Indian films. I have got offers from Bollywood, Tamil cinema. So, I might take up regional films as well. It all depends on how 'Saaho' fares.
'I Always Need To Work Hard To Prove Every Film Of Mine'
Q. How accepted do you feel in Bollywood now? During 'Baahubali' promotions, it was your first experience with a new section of audience. But today, these people love you and have accepted you whole-heartedly? Do you still feel like an outsider?
A. (smiles) I need to work hard even in Telugu film industry. I always need to work hard to prove every film of mine. When we came here for the first time, we didn't know if people would accept 'Baahubali'. They received it wonderfully and the second part did even more better. I am not very good with interviews. So for the first time when I came to Bollywood, it wasn't easy for me because I am not used to this. But, the press warmly welcomed me. A lot of stars called up me. Ajay Devgn Sir who was shooting for some film in Delhi, called me to his room and we spoke. Even, Ranbir Kapoor messaged me. So, I received a very warm welcome here.
Q. Prabhas, you are known to be the heartthrob of the nation. People want to see you take up more films. But, you are taking your own sweet time. On the other hand, you have other actors who take up more films in a year. How do you look at it?
A. Even, I want to do at least one film a year. Because after 'Baahubali', whatever film I would have taken, even if I would have done a love story which I thought I should, I would have still taken a year because there is a pressure of 'Baahubali and the quality of the film is also important. But I ended up with an action film and it took more time.
'You Need To Understand The Pulse Of The Audience Which Changes Every Week'
Q. Even down the south, you largely focus on Telugu films. Is there a reason where you stayed away from taking up films in other south languages?
A. I thought of taking Tamil films a few years after I began working because I was born in Tamil Nadu and know the language. But, it took me some time to settle in Telugu. Luckily, we got 'Baahubali' and SS Rajamouli took me to even Japan. (laughs)
Q. In the last two years, the regional boundaries are blurring in Indian cinema. We have Shraddha Kapoor doing 'Saaho' with you. There is Amitabh Bachchan doing a Sye Raa Narsimha Reddy. Even Akshay Kumar starred in '2.0'. What's your take on that?
A. It's beautiful. We have about 100 languages. There is a big market for Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and of course, Hindi cinema. So, why shouldn't we be doing this when we can make one of the biggest films in the world? The Kannada film 'KGF' did quite well. Who knows tomorrow Punjab might give the world's biggest film! We should work together as we are a part of a country.
Q. Has 'Baahubali' given you the confidence to experiment in Hindi cinema?
A. Like I said before, I need to work hard in Telugu as well to prove myself. It's not easy. You have the audience changing. Suddenly, they are watching an 'Arjun Reddy'. So, you need to understand their pulse which changes every week. You need to always fight. It's a lot of stress.
'The Shyness Is Always There'
Q. You call yourself a shy person. How do you manage to handle all the female attention now?
A. I never used to speak to girls during my school days. Until they come and talk to you so many times that I would get comfortable. The shyness is always there. Even, I don't understand why I am in this industry. (laughs) It's beautiful that 'Baahubali' happened.
Q. They say, it's easy to get over a flop. But when you deliver a hit of massive level, how do you plan your future work because every time you can't go that grand?
A. It's easier to deal with flops because you have already lost. Anything which you gain is beautiful. Now, SS Rajamouli has given me 'Baahubali'. I don't know what to do now. We are banging our heads and trying to do our best. We have worked hard on 'Saaho'.
Q. You didn't dub for the Hindi version of 'Baahubali' franchise. But for 'Saaho', you have lent your own voice. Was that a conscious decision made by you?
A. It was my conscious decision because I wanted my voice for 'Saaho'. Having said that, I loved the way Sharad Kelkar dubbed for my character in 'Baahubali'. He has got an amazing and beautiful voice. For 'Baahubali', I didn't even dub in Tamil because these films need a little authentic and traditional way of speaking. On the other hand, 'Saaho' is a commercial, present-day film. I can manage that. (laughs)
'It Won't Be Easy To Make Baahubali 3'
Q. Were you disappointed after SS Rajamouli didn't make a film with you post 'Baahubali'?
A. The 'Baahubali' team entertained for four years with their two films. They were good entertaining projects. To do 'Baahubali 3', SS Rajamouli should also get excited. I heard seven scripts before 'Baahubali'. I heard sixty percent of what he had written. But he wasn't happy. It took him five years to finalize the script. It wouldn't be easy to make 'Baahubali 3' because the script was written only till the two parts. And now, it's not a joke to entertain the people. The expectations are so high. We should get the perfect script, Rajamouli should get excited, there will be so much of hard work to do another Baahubali. Let's see if anything happens.
Q. Actors down the south haven't really ventured into the digital space. Is there a specific reason for the same and would you be all game for dabbling with that space?
A. It depends. Netflix is making big Hindi shows. If they do something similar down the south, maybe there's a chance. It depends on the size, script and maybe, the industry needs to get used to it. It takes time for things to happen. Bollywood is like more ahead and the south industry is still driven by the stars. Once it opens up, that might happen. The younger generation is more cooler.
Q. Do you think it's fair to judge an actor on the basis of the roles that they play on-screen? Off late, you have seen some of them getting bashed for taking up roles with negative traits.
A. You get an image and you can break it. But, the script should be very strong. It's the most important part. The audience will watch any kind of film, no doubt. But, you suddenly can't go from sea to sand. Like for example, take 'Baahubali'. In the first part, the hand symbolizes that a lady is dying and this baby should live. So, no one knows my face other than the Telugu audience. The audience is already interested in the baby. He grows among the tribal people. When he grows up, he tries to climb the mountains but always fails. Finally, he succeeds in climbing but there's a bigger problem there. A mother is waiting. Anywhere if that happens it doesn't matter if he's a superstar or a normal star. So, the way how you drive the character is very important. It's not just the face.