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After assisting a director like Shankar and in films such as Anniyan, Shivaji, Robot and I, Narasimha Rao was bound to experiment with new genres and not settle for the regular spate of romcoms that most debutants generally cut their teeth with.

Rao’s directorial venture Sharabha is a socio-fantasy thriller and produced by long time UAE resident and businessman, Ashwani Kumar Sehdev. His son Aakash Kumar Sehdev is playing the lead role. Bollywood’s Mishti Chakraborti is paired opposite Aakash.

Sharabha is a story of good versus bad, said director Rao with doses of comedy, romance and action.

Chakraborti plays Divya, the daughter of a minister who visits the small town where the hero lives.

“My character Divya is an integral part of the story. It revolves around an incident that happens to her,” said Mishti. “It’s the first time I am exploring a character with various shades including a hint of negative.”

The supporting cast includes veterans Jayaprada, Tamil actor Nasser, Telugu actor Tanikella Bharani, Puneet Issar and Napoleon. Charandeep plays the villain, his first big role.

Koti has scored music. Ramana Salva has handled the camera.

Sharabha was filmed in Kurnool, Mysore and Italy. One scene was shot on top of Mt. Blanc, braving sub-zero temperatures and physical distress. The highlight is the climax scene.

“It is a sixteen-minute-long scene involving computer graphics and prosthetic make-up,” said Rao. He holds close to his heart a lesson from his mentor Shankar — “You must be able to show what you visualise while writing a story and the transformation is from the mind to the screen.”

Sharabha has been dubbed into Tamil and Hindi as Yaagam. While Sharabha releases in the UAE on November 22, the other two versions will follow soon.

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FROM THE UAE TO TELUGU CINEMA

Born and raised in Sharjah, Aakash Kumar was into modelling and theatre acting. He holds a degree in filmmaking from SAE, Dubai and also did an acting course at the New York Film Academy. Sharabha, a socio-fantasy thriller in Telugu, is his debut film.

Q: Tell us about your role in ‘Sharabha’.

A: I play this regular guy, a fun loving young man from a small town who hangs out with his two buddies. One of them is his uncle, played by Nasser. We are kind of rowdies that no one wants to mess with.

Q: What made a Punjabi choose a Telugu film for his debut?

A: Sharabha is not a typical genre film. I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy stories. My all time favourite is Lord of the Rings. I was intrigued by the story narrated by Narasimha Rao.

Q: How did you handle the language barrier?

A: It was quite a challenge. Telugu is an alien language. So I had a tutor for six months and trained at Madhu Film Institute, Hyderabad, for acting and Telugu coaching. My Tamilian and Telugu friends also helped in getting the nuances right.”

Q: You seem to have done the action scenes yourself?

A: Yes, I did not use a double. Being a trained boxer and also into martial arts, I decided to take it on myself. I think it was a bit too much with an injury later.

Q: Were there other challenges?

A: Prosthetics was one. My look resembling Narasimha Swami took five hours of make-up and was done by well known prosthetic artist Sean Foot of New Zealand. In my first film, I got to explore several things and that seemed like working on four films. Sharing screen space with veterans Jayaprada, who plays my on-screen mother and Tamil actor Nasser is something I fondly treasure.