Bollywood Lite Blogs

‘I don’t want to be clichéd filmmaker’

Elephants are a big part of the jungle. We have forgotten the importance of saving forests, elephants and the ecosystem…Director Prabhu Solomon speaks with Yashika Mathur.

‘Mynaa’ and ‘Kumki’ are enough films to recognize director Prabhu Solomon. His trilingual film “Haathi Mere Saathi” stars Rana Daggubati, and is scheduled to release across India on March 26. He believes that as a storyteller he shouldn’t tell stories that are cliched.

“As a filmmaker I want to do something useful for society. I don’t want to be a cliched filmmaker, showing a guy fighting for love, society or nation. Everyone has seen a lot of this, and there are many people to fight for that. What about animals and our ecosystem? Who is going to give a voice or be a voice to the jungle?” Prabhu raises concern, while speaking to us.

His film showcases a man’s struggle to save the forest and wildlife, especially elephants.

“Elephants are a big part of the jungle. We have forgotten the importance of saving forests, elephants and the ecosystem. The reason the pandemic happened reflects how we disturbed nature,” said Solomon.

The filmmaker’s biggest hit so far has been the 2010 romantic tragedy film “Mynaa”. He worked with elephants for the first time in his 2012 film “Kumki”.

Talking about his yearning to tell diverse stories, and how the idea of an elephant-centric film came to his mind, Prabhu says: “For me as a filmmaker, I must not do something that leaves me with similar kinds of scripts. I want to do something out of the box and when I was doing my Tamil film ‘Kumki’, I did my research on stories about elephants. I wanted to one day do a story properly on what is happening with these animals in India. This seemed the right time for ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ to come out. It is really a big experience to do a film with elephants.”

Actor Rana Daggubati

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Actor Rana Daggubati plays Bandev in the film, which will be released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi language. For Prabhu, working with the actor was an easy task.

“Rana was a good friend. He met me one day and we planned to do a movie together. He is a down-to-earth human being and for this kind of the film it is important that there is no attitude, and that was a good thing about Rana. He was very passionate about the character and it was very easy for me to work with him,” shares the filmmaker.

Any plans to direct an out-an-out Hindi film? “As of now, it is all about ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’. It is a pan-Indian film. I feel that the Hindi audience will really like it because they will see a film with elephants after Rajesh Khanna’s ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’,” he says.

The film also releases in Tamil as “Kaadan” and in Telugu as “Aranya” on March 26.

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Bollywood Lite Blogs

‘Art of cinema unites across languages’

You just care about the film. I think the internet and the press has also broken language barriers in a big way…Rana interacts with Yashika Mathur.

Telugu star Rana Daggubati is thrilled to be part of his upcoming film Haathi Mere Saathi. Rana feels the audience only cares about the film and not where the person making the film is coming from. Rana is ready to release his new trilingual biggie “Haathi Mere Saathi”.

Although primarily focussed on Telugu films so far, Rana has also made significant impact in Hindi and Tamil film industries from early on in his career. Grandson of Dadasaheb Phalke Award-recipient late producer D. Ramanaidu, he firmly believes the art of cinema ultimately unites across languages.

“It is always the audience. They always want new stuff. When you buy a ticket and get into the theatre, you don’t really care where the filmmaker is coming from. You just care about the film. I think the internet and the press has also broken language barriers in a big way. The audience won’t care whether “Avengers” is in Hindi, in Telugu films or in any other language,” he tells.

The actor adds: “I know a little bit for history because of my grandfather. There was a time when all films, be it Hindi, Telugu or Tamil, were shot out of Chennai. The industries there never had a difference except for talent changing. There was not much difference. Art really unites. Whether you are a director or an actor, you don’t really have a language for this craft. It’s ultimately the art of filmmaking.”

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Rana’s role as the antagonist Bhallal Dev in the “Baahubali” franchise was lauded all over. While many remember him as the beefed-up ruthless king from the “Baahubali” films, Rana will soon be seen playing Bandev in “Haathi Mere Saathi”. Bandev is a man who lives in the jungle and has dedicated his life to protecting the eco-system.

“Haathi Mere Saathi” releases as “Kaadan” in Tamil and “Aranya” in Telugu. Talking about the Prabu Solomon directorial, the actor says he underwent drastic transformation physically and psychologically to play the character, who is cut off from regular human interaction.

“When this film was offered to me, I had just done ‘Baahubali’. Prabu was very clear that is not how a jungle man looks (refers to his Bhallal Dev physique). From shedding weight to growing beard, I kept doing that for three to four months. Then for the next 10 to 15 days we spend time on sets, defining how Bandev was and how he behaved,” says Rana.

“We started creating grammar for him, which was very different from what society would have. He didn’t speak to people for a long time. He is a very knowledgeable man but when you have disconnect with people you behave differently. Prabu detailed that out for me. The first schedule I shot was only with the animals in the wild. So, it took me almost 20 to 25 days to get into the mode. So, that really defined and designed who I was and how I looked in the film,” he sums up.

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