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None in India could have done it but for Mahesh: ARM
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 • Telugu Comments

AR Murugadoss has a large fan base of his own.  And since 'SPYder' is a Mahesh Babu film in addition, the hype is only skyrocketing by the day.  In this interview, the creative man talks about how the spy thriller fructified, working with Mahesh, roping in Rakul, and more.

You have said that it was 10 years ago that you first wanted to do a film with Mahesh Babu.  How did your creative team-up with him begin in the first place?

It was while 'Stalin' was being made that the writer Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao got me introduced to Mahesh.  A few days later, I watched 'Athadu', which bowled me over because of the stunning performance of Mahesh.  Soon, I called on him and expressed my wish to team up with him.  However, he got busy with other projects and so did I.

We finally got to work when he was mighty impressed with a 20-minutes narration that I gave at the event of the Tamil version of 'Srimanthudu'.

How did you imagine Mahesh in the role of a spy?  What traits of the superstar drew you towards him?

In fact, Mahesh was the first actor who I could think of when I ventured out to do this spy thriller.  In terms of his looks, the aura and the fan following, he has got the right qualifications to pull off this kind of a film.

The fact he can speak Tamil very well made him all the more suitable for the bilingual.  He gave the nod at the first instance.  Later, everything just fell into place without much wait.

Whoever works with Mahesh says that he is a dedicated perfectionist.  What has your experience been?

I am overwhelmed by the level of dedication he has been showing.  He would always be on time to the sets. The night-time shoots continued for about 80 days, during which period Mahesh's support was great.  He would never have a complaint.

He is known as the director's actor.  You must have felt lucky.  Isn't it?

He indeed is the director’s actor.  He just delivers what you ask of him.  No Indian actor could have essayed this role in 'SPYder' as well as he has done.  I am now his fan.

Hasn't the film been in the making for too long?  It was expected to be out by May or June.  Is it because it's a bilingual or is there some other reason?

It's not an ordinary task to wrap up a bilingual.  Given the backdrop and the whole ambience of the film, I had to shoot twice the two versions.  And things do take their time to move when it's bilingual.  More so when you are doing an actioner with significant special effects.  With post-production works having to go on simultaneously in different countries, it's bound to take its time. Wasn't Parineeti Chopra supposed to don the female lead's role, which eventually came to be played by Rakul?

We had second thoughts about going for a Bollywood name (towards the last stages of casting).  Since this is a Telugu-Tamil bilingual, I wanted to choose a heroine who can pick up on the language quite fast in view of time constraints.  And Rakul seemed to be the best choice.

Action and the 'spyder' paraphernalia aside, what is in store in the movie?

There is more to it than what one might think.  'SPYder' is not just a device-oriented spy thriller.  It's an emotional story with doses of social drama thrown in.  It's these qualities of the movie that make it more interesting.  My film also drives home a message in an entertaining milieu through the characters at the intelligence agencies.

Many episodes were shot in Hyderabad.  Is the film set in a different city as far as the Tamil version is concerned?

The episodes unfold in Hyderabad itself even in the Tamil version. So, the backdrop is the same.  I keep evolving things till the last minute.  With respect to this film, too, it happened.

You have hands-on experience in handling Bollywood films as well.  Why didn't dare to make it a tri-lingual then?

Even as I was writing the script, I felt that this should be made for Telugu and Tamil audiences only.  It's not about the script having the potential to be sold to a pan-Indian audience.  Making it in two languages was a taxing process.

While Mahesh is a superstar in Telugu, you seem to be the film's USP in your home turf.  What are your expectations from the movie's market in Tamil?

Mahesh has been a familiar face in Tamil Nadu over the last few years.  We are going to hold a grand launch kind of event in  Chennai next month.  I am also glad that his dubbing for the Tamil version is impeccable.  He will surprise everyone.  Mahesh, I am sure, will be a bigger force post the release of 'SPYder'.

This is one of the most expensive films that has ever been made in South India.  How was it teaming up with Tagore Madhu?

I have known Tagore Madhu garu since the days of 'Tagore' (which was a remake of Murugadoss' 'Ramana').  Mahesh too was keen on working with him.  It has been an unflinching support from the producer throughout.  The film wouldn't have come out this well but for the producers' passion.

What are your up-and-coming films?  You recently said that you can write a story for Rajinikanth any time.

Yes, I have given Rajini sir a narration.  He has liked it very much.  I have a few other ideas in mind.  After 'SPYder', I will take my time off for 3-4 months.  My next film will be in Tamil.