by MOHNISH SINGH
THE Indian movie everyone has been talking about is brand new action entertainer Saaho and the big-budget release this week is comedy-drama Chhichhore.
The one thing the two high-profile back-to-back releases have in common is hot-right-now star Shraddha Kapoor, who continues her impressive run of strong female characters with both films. She has contrasting roles in both the movies and showed off her action side in Saaho opposite superstar actor Prabhas.
Shraddha, who is mostly known for her romantic and dramatic roles, has done some jaw-dropping action sequences in Saaho, which is set to be the biggest-grossing film of her career. The multi-lingual film helmed by director Sujeeth has a series of high-octane action scenes and delivers a never-seen-before experience to the Indian cinema.
Eastern Eye caught up with Shraddha to know more about Saaho, how she pulled off heavy-duty stunts on her own, her working experience with Prabhas and decade-long journey in Bollywood.
There is a line in the trailer of Saaho describing Prabhas and your character’s unique relationship. Do you have that kind of relationship in real-life?
I think I have it with my best friends. We can’t live without each other nor can we spend too much time together. We are a group of friends from school with whom I spend a lot of time and when I spend too long with them, we say to each other to not show their face for some time (laughs). They are my critics and the most honest people I have met, maybe too honest.
Does a mega-budget movie like Saaho put pressure on you because of high expectations?
Technically, budget-wise, this is my biggest film yet. So, on the inside, I am feeling a lot of pressure. Hopefully, outside I am showing calm. I had to take up some training for action scenes that I do in the film. There weren’t many but before every sequence, I had to practise with an international team in Hyderabad. Hyderabad now seems like a second home for me.
You were sick before you started shooting for Saaho…
This whole year has been hectic for me. I was sick with dengue in September (2018). All my energy was lost. My joints were weak. After that, I went straight into filming the action sequences, and it was very difficult in that state. Later, I also became part of the movie called Street Dancer. God knows how many injuries I suffered training for that film. I am still recovering. My neck and shoulders are a bit stiff, that will take time to recuperate, according to the doctors.
What kind of training did you go through for Saaho?
So, the training for Saaho was very rigorous, but the best part of it was the international team that came with their action director. The way they trained was so interesting. Learning the sequences from them was like doing choreography. They planned it perfectly and trained it likewise. It was quite challenging, but it was fun at the same time.
What was the most challenging part of shooting action sequences?
I was most scared when I had to shoot a real gun. It was very noisy, and also the kickback was so strong. The first day when I was practising, even after wearing earplugs the sound was so ear-piercing. That night, I could barely sleep as my ears were ringing because of the gun’s sound. By the next few days, I was getting used to it, though my hands were still aching. It’s such a small thing, yet so heavy.
Is there any particular reason you chose to do an out-and-out action film?
I don’t think I consciously choose to shoot one kind of film or another. I just really want to do the types of films I have never done before. Even my character in Baaghi is something that is very out-of-the-box. I was very excited about that. Even in Street Dancer, though there is dance and everything, the character is also very strong and different, so that is what attracted me to the role. So, the effort is to do different characters and to be part of a good film. I would like to go with the flow.
Prabhas said that other than action stunts, you were good with romantic scenes as well. Any comment on that?
That’s very sweet of him to say. He is a very encouraging person who helped me a lot on the sets. He is a very nice person. He is such a huge star but lives such a simple life.
Prabhas is a quiet person. How did you break the ice with him?
There was no need to break the ice because when we met for the reading, it was like as if we have been friends for a long time. He was smiling and had a warmth around him. He is a chilled-out person and carries a lot of passion. It was very normal to communicate with him. He also took very good care of my team from Mumbai. When he is on the set, he is so passionate about what he is doing. Other than the film, we talked about food.
You are about to complete a decade in the industry. How do you look at your journey till now?
I take pride in all my films, irrespective of the fact whether it was a hit or did not work out at the box-office. That’s how you learn when your films don’t do well.
Your father has done a couple of south Indian films. Did he give you any tips before you started shooting for Saaho?
He has not specifically given me any advice on matters related to films, but he is there when I need advice or encouragement. He says that if you are extremely tired then you should request some change in timing. I, on the other hand, panic if everything does not go right and as per schedule, to the point where I was ready to work even when I was suffering from dengue. Thankfully, my parents stepped up and said that no way, you can’t do that, you have to stay at home and recover. He advised me that there needs to be a balance and no doing one film after another without any rest period.
Why did you drop out of the Saina Nehwal biopic?
I gave a lot of time to the project. We took part in a lot of badminton classes, and I was having so much fun. I was very connected to the project as well, but then I was offered Street Dancer. I had worked with Remo D’Souza in ABCD 2 (2015). He has been like a guru to me. Also, during that time, I was sick with dengue so the schedule for the Saina Nehwal biopic had to be pushed and the offer for Street Dancer came, all at the same time. I couldn’t work on both projects because of the schedules. So I had to select one and I chose Street Dancer.
Any regrets regarding that decision?
There are no hard feelings of regret, but I wish everything worked out and I could have been a part of both these projects. I am excited that Saina Nehwal biopic is being made and I am sure that Parineeti Chopra will do a great job.
You were planning to get your own house, right?
Yes, I have a house of my own. My parents suggested me to get one as a form of investment. However, I don’t stay there. I stayed there for one-two days, but I wasn’t comfortable there without my family. I was missing them. I told them that I couldn’t stay away from them for long. I live in the house I was brought up in, so I have very fond memories there and I’m attached to it.
Right now, you are part of two films that are being released back to back. How are you juggling promotions and everything?
There is no time for myself and there is a lot of promotion to take part in. Right now, I am between two projects Saaho and Chhichhore and doing so much. I sometimes wished I had clones to tackle all that. It’s hectic, but I enjoy it immensely. I love what I do and it’s always nice to have a fun interview, a good interview. A good talk is worth it.
Saaho and Chhichhore are both in cinemas now