Suhas on ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’: I don’t think I have worked this hard for any film

Actor Suhas opens up on the Telugu film ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’, the story of which has been partially inspired by events witnessed by debut director Dushyanth Katikaneni

January 30, 2024 01:21 pm | Updated 01:21 pm IST

Suhas (centre) with co-actors in a scene from ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’, the Telugu film directed by Dushyanth Katikaneni.

Suhas (centre) with co-actors in a scene from ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’, the Telugu film directed by Dushyanth Katikaneni. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I can never be slow and steady,” says actor Suhas with a hearty laugh when we begin this interview. His new Telugu film Ambajipeta Marriage Band, directed by newcomer Dushyanth Katikaneni, will arrive in theatres on February 2. His previous film as solo lead was Writer Padmabhushan, which released in February 2023.

The actor explains that the one-year gap was unavoidable and not a reflection of him taking one cautious step at a time. His hair had to be tonsured for a particular portion of Ambajipeta… and he had to wait till his hair grew to shoot for other films. Prior to the completion of Ambajipeta…, he had to tonsure once again to film for a few patchwork scenes. “After completing this film, I shot for other films and there will be more releases this year.” 

Suhas made a mark in supporting characters before turning hero.

Suhas made a mark in supporting characters before turning hero. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Suhas has been travelling to different pockets of the Telugu States to promote his film and has barely had time to let the feeling of being a new father sink in. He and his wife, Lalitha, were blessed with a baby boy recently and he began touring for promotions barely a day after.

He first read the script of Ambajipeta… during the lockdown and reveals that around 50% of the story was inspired by what the director had observed in Godavari district. “Some of the incidents are inspired by what he faced, a few others occurred around him and the rest of it has been fictionalised and dramatised. When I read some of the scenes that happen at the salon and during the climax, they gave me an adrenaline rush and I was eager to begin working on the film,” Suhas recalls.

Dushyanth had worked as a chief assistant director for Dear Comrade and Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, in which Suhas played supporting characters. All of Suhas’ films as solo leads — Colour Photo, Writer Padmabhushan and Ambajipeta… — have been with first-time directors; he had known them as assistant directors or during his short-film days as part of Chai Bisket’s YouTube channel.

Frankly speaking

He can be brutally honest while listening to stories narrated by friends, says Suhas. “I am point blank when I think certain portions or scenes are not written well. Likewise, they tell me upfront when they don’t like my performance. We are honest among friends. I might be diplomatic with others.”

His next few films are also with debutants, he reveals. Suhas finds it amusing that he is often asked why he risks his career working with new directors. “A debut director is determined to give his best to a film since his career depends on it. So I think it is a safe option to work with newcomers.” Further, Suhas explains that all these directors know their craft since they have made short films or assisted established directors. Occasionally, he does not hesitate to gently reassure them when they come under pressure on the sets.

In Ambajipeta…, he and Sharanya play twins and the drama that revolves around their characters and his romance with Shivani, are just one part of the story. Suhas says the conflict point has not been revealed in the trailer and is confident that this film is one for the ages. “I don’t think I have worked this hard for any film,” he says, adding that it was an emotionally draining experience. 

Suhas likes to rehearse for any character and this time, he ‘workshopped’ for a month. “There is one scene for which Shivani (the leading lady) and I rehearsed more than 50 times.” He and the other actors who form the music band also underwent training to look authentic on screen as band members. “I learnt to play the dappu from Paramesh anna who used to teach folk orchestra during college.”

He mentions that the scenes between him and Sharanya will be talked about. “She is my older sister in the film but is a few years younger than me in reality. We bonded well during the making of this film and she is a family friend now. She is an amazing performer and I think anyone with a sibling could connect with the emotions portrayed in the film.”

Suhas (centre), Jagadeesh and others in a scene from ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’.

Suhas (centre), Jagadeesh and others in a scene from ‘Ambajipeta Marriage Band’. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Once he turned hero with Colour Photo, Suhas says it was intentional to choose nondescript, semi-urban and rural characters and stay clear of anything larger than life. “Even during my short-film days, I began with comedy and then did shorts such as The Athidi (an emotional drama directed by Sandeep Raj with music by Kaalabhairava). The films I have lined up for the next five years will help establish myself as a dependable actor. The audience will have the confidence to come and watch my films in theatres.”

Right place, right time

Reflecting on his journey from YouTube short films to cinema, first as a comedian and then a supporting actor before turning solo lead, Suhas says he was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. “I thank Viva Harsha, who was a huge inspiration for many of us to be a part of short films as actors or directors. If he hadn’t taken that plunge and become a success story, maybe we would not have realised the potential of that platform.” Suhas concedes that the same platform has undergone changes since then. “At least a hundred of us made our careers from short films. We were lucky to start in 2014-15. Had we begun now, I doubt if we would have got noticed. I might have had to return to Vijayawada.”

Next up are films Prasannavadanam, Cable Reddy and a new film to be produced by the makers of Balagam. “All the directors are new,” adds Suhas. Meanwhile, he also received multiple offers to play the bad guy after his psychopath turn in HIT 2, but declined them to avoid being typecast. “When I listen to a story, I know whether I will fit in. After I turn 35 or 40 and my face begins to show some maturity, maybe I shall take up a few antagonist or character roles alongside main leads.” he says, with the air of an actor who has given considerable thought to the journey ahead. 

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