Movies

Mahesh Babu: ‘Dookudu’ was the last film I watched with my fans

Mahesh Babu is glad some of the recent Telugu films have done well across India | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It has been more than two decades since Mahesh Babu debuted as a leading actor with Raja Kumaradu, and despite the superstardom that he has earned over the years, the days prior to a film’s release give him bouts of nervousness. However, during a brief interview before the theatrical release of his new Telugu film Sarkaru Vaari Paata (SVP) on May 12, Mahesh Babu is at ease, “I was confident about the film ever since director Parasuram narrated the story. While working on the film, the vibe I felt was similar to that of Pokiri – in terms of the energy on the sets, my body language and dialogue delivery. Sometimes, my intuition tells me that a film is going to do well.” 

Mahesh is aware of the impact his films can have on his massive fan base, with dialogues and mannerisms being imitated. However, he does not let that limit the way he chooses a film: “The script has to excite me.” Is there anything he would say no to? “If a dialogue sounds too insensitive, I turn it down. But if something has to be said for the character, then I do not mind it.” His passion for cinema, he says, is his driving force: “I would like to be remembered as a great actor; that is what I aim for.”

Reflecting on his career, Mahesh states, “I’ve matured since Raja Kumarudu; I am grateful for the roles that came my way and how they shaped my career.”

Reverting to discuss SVP, he repeatedly credits Parasuram for designing the protagonist’s character in “a new manner” and adds, “His writing has a spark. I like working with directors who are also writers.”

Sporting a tattoo of a one rupee coin on his neck and longer hair than usual, Mahesh reckons that it was a task to maintain the look as the film shaped up intermittently during the pandemic: “We would shoot for three months, then there would be another lockdown...”

Mahesh and Keerthy Suresh in ‘Sarkaru Vaari Paata’

Mahesh and Keerthy Suresh in ‘Sarkaru Vaari Paata’

‘Kalavathi’ is slow poison
Mahesh picks the ‘Kalavathi’ (named after Keerthy Suresh’s character in the film) song as his favourite from the album, but admits that he and Parasuram were sceptical at first: “I felt the song was slow; Parasuram was not sure how people would react to the words ‘come on, come on Kalavathi…’. Thaman was confident and said, ‘Trust me, this song will be played at every wedding and will be a big hit’. Hats off to him; he knows the pulse of the listeners. This song grew on me like slow poison. Thaman has also done a good job with the background score.”

The pandemic, he says, helped him spend more time with his family: “The pandemic deepened my bond with my loved ones and I have learnt to enjoy the smaller things in life.”

He got to closely observe his daughter Sitara, who aspires to be an actor, and son Gautham who wants to study abroad: “The younger generation is smart and makes their own choices. My wife Namrata and I will support their decisions.”

Following SVP, on June 3, Mahesh’s co-production Major is up for release and he lavishes praise on actor-writer Adivi Sesh and director Sashi Kiran Tikka for breathing life into the biopic of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. Major was filmed in Hindi and Telugu. 

While this film marks his entry as a producer into the pan-India market, questions are often posed about him acting in a Hindi film: “Since I know the emotions that work best in Telugu cinema, I work here. I am happy that some of the recent Telugu films have done well across the country. This is what I dreamt of 10 years ago and I am glad it is happening now.” Mahesh’s forthcoming project with director S S Rajamouli will be a pan-India film. 

Before Rajamouli’s film goes on the floors, he will be working with director Trivikram Srinivas: “He is one of the best writers we have today and I am excited to work with him again (after Athadu and Khaleja).

Many of Mahesh’s films have either been blockbusters or disasters, oscillating between extremes and the actor mentions that post release, he tries to stay calm and positive: “The audience is the judge once the film is out of our hands.”

Mahesh watches new films, across languages, thanks to a private cinema server at home and has rarely stepped out to watch a film among the audiences, not wanting to attract attention. He recalls, “ Dookudu was the last film I watched with my fans.”


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Printable version | May 11, 2022 4:42:08 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/mahesh-babu-dookudu-was-the-last-time-i-watched-with-my-fans/article65403523.ece