Until Bahubali hit screens, Prabhas was known only as a hot Telugu star. Now Bahubali’s strong arms have catapulted the actor to the international stage.
As Shivudu, Prabhas wowed viewers when he lifted a giant Shivalingam (a statue representing the Hindu deity Shiva) on his shoulders — all the while flaunting his glistening biceps — and placed it under a waterfall, just to save his mother the hassle of carrying pots of water to the lingam to shower it.
Playing a larger-than-life figure, Shivudu won the admiration of labourers, who while struggling to raise the huge statue of Bhalladeva, let go of the rope thus endangering several lives. In the nick of time, Shivudu grasps the rope and averts disaster.
The same Shivudu brought in some romance, while discreetly painting tattoos on Avantika, the girl he is besotted with.
Today Bahubali is synonymous with Prabhas. And his phone has not stopped ringing.
Yet, success sits lightly on the shoulders of the actor who could pass off as your neighbour with a friendly smile.
On a recent visit to Chennai, Prabhas spoke exclusively to tabloid! about the whirlwind that Bahubali has caused.
For the last three years, life only revolved around the sets of Bahubali, as Prabhas did not do any other film. In this epic drama, he plays a dual role: that of the father, Bahubali, and son Shivudu.
From training in horse riding and sword fighting to climbing rocky mountains, the six-month long preparations set the tone for the film. Bahubali is his second film with director Rajamouli. His first was Chatrapati, in Telugu, made ten years ago. Three years ago, Rajamouli narrated the story of Bahubali to Prabhas.
“I got goose bumps listening to the script,” Prabhas says.
He was asked to set aside time in his schedule for a year of shooting.
“I knew it would stretch beyond that. The hard part was the action. We shot for eighty days at a stretch. I had undergone shoulder surgery, too, during this time and post-surgery it was not easy working on action sequences.”
The song sequence of Dheevara, featuring Prabhas and Tamannah, was shot over 27 days.
Did he at any point feel like quitting Bahubali?
“Not at all,” said Prabhas, who spent his early years in Chennai before his father, a producer, moved to Hyderabad.
“I am lucky to have got this role. As an actor working in a period film its is fascinating and here was a film with epic battle scenes. In the last six months, I was eager to see the complete film.”
Praising his director, with whom he shares a close bond, Prabhas said, “Rajamouli’s narration of a scene is mind-blowing. Before the filming began, he was ready with paintings of various scenes. Be it the waterfall scenes or the battle scenes, Rajamouli’s vision was clear.”
When it came to demonstrating a scene, Rajamouli always led the way for his actors, be it an action scene or one that posed a risk.
In a scene in which Prabhas had to jump into a river, he was testing the waters to gauge the temperature. He noticed that Rajamouli had already taken the plunge.
“The water was icy cold. When Rajamouli emerged out of it later, his vision was blurred for some time.”
Prabhas remembered being a shy boy in his childhood days who refused to do a child’s role in a film when his father suggested.
“I was scared of crowds. The idea of working in films came after I passed class ten. I was planning to set up a restaurant and manage a business,” added the Mani Ratnam fan.
Congratulatory messages are still pouring in. Bollywood’s Karan Johar called to appreciate his work. So did Ranbir Kapoor over a text message. But one call left him in a daze. It was none other than superstar Rajnikanth.
“I could not believe it when sir called,” said Prabhas. “I did not hear half of what he said.”
Prabhas is leaving for Europe soon on a break before he gears up for the shoot for the second part of Bahubali in October.