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'I was making a bigger film than Dabangg'

Last updated on: June 14, 2012 10:33 IST

'I was making a bigger film than Dabangg'


Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Director Harish Shankar S directed his first film Shock a few years ago and got the shock of his life when it bombed at the box office.

It took him a few years to make his second film Mirapakai with Ravi Teja. The film was a runaway hit and the director had arrived.

His third film, Gabbar Singh (starring Pawan Kalyan and Shruti Haasan), which released recently, is a smash blockbuster. 

Basking in the stupendous success of Gabbar Singh, which isbased on the Hindi film Dabangg, Harish is not just a happy man but has been catapulted into the league of successful directors.

He talks about his success, being a fan of Pawan Kalyan and working with the Power Star, and his new ventures, in this exclusive interview.

You must be very happy Gabbar Singh is a huge hit...

Obviously. The media itself has said that it's breaking the 81-year-old record of the Telugu film industry.

It's been a long time since Pawan Kalyan has been portrayed like this. Just because of Pawan this film has become a blockbuster.

How did you get to direct this film?

I had narrated the story of Mirapakai to Pawan Kalyan. That film didn't happen with him. Later I did that film with Ravi Teja.

One day I got a call from Pawan Kalyan's office. He said I like your sensibility and humour and I want you to do the remake of Dabangg.

I was super thrilled. I told him we can't do a shot- to-shot remake, but I did want to do it.

After I re-wrote the film I narrated it again to him.

Image: Director Harish Shankar S with Pawan kalyan


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You introduced new sequences in the film like the antakshari and the second half of the film is quite different. How did you adapt it?

Since I come from a theatre background I took new artistes in the film especially for scenes like the antakshari.

Everyone proved themselves. Today, those people have four-five films on hand.

You had a new second half in Gabbar Singh...

Dabangg worked because of the UP backdrop, lingo, and new locations, especially the village. The audio was a huge hit. It had layers to it. Of course the presence of Salman Khan made a difference.

Pawan Kalyan is bigger than Dabangg. I was making a film bigger than Dabangg.

I didn't understand some scenes and I felt the need to rewrite to suit the nativity.

Dabangg had the histrionics of Salman Khan; I worked keeping Pawan Kalyan's image and histrionics in mind.

Wasn't that restricting?

It was a plus point and a limitation.

Image: Pawan Kalyan and Shruti Hassan in Gabbar Singh

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'Pawan Kalyan suggested Gabbar Singh as the title of the film'

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How did Pawan react to the changes?

He liked the changes. He loved the characters. Even in his previous remakes he never did a xerox.

We discussed before I worked on the script. We were on a perfect wavelength.

I took six to eight months to work on the script. He was surprised with the changes especially the antakshari and the cut-out scenes.

It was Pawan Sir who suggested Gabbar Singh as the title of the film.

How did you conceptualise the antakshari sequence?

Pawan said let's do some gaana bajaana with the goons. So we thought of an antakshari.

We shortlisted 300 songs and then wondered on the placement – whether it should be placed in the first half or the second half. The artistes sang their own songs at the audition. One of them sang Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and we retained it in the film.

It was essentially team work. The audience liked the antakshari and kabaddi scenes. Hard work pays! 

Image: Pawan Kalyan and Shruti Hassan in Gabbar Singh

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'Everyone told me I showed a new Pawan Kalyan'

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Why do you think it has been so well received? Pawan Kalyan has got a hit after a while...

We never thought it would break records.

You mean you never anticipated this kind of success?

We never did. We enjoyed the film making.

Everyone told me I showed a new Pawan Kalyan. I say I portrayed an old Pawan Kalyan – whatever scenes and dances were there, they portrayed his sensibilities and mannerisms.

The intention was to make an entertainer without expectations. As the saying goes, Bhagwan jab deta hai chappad phad kar deta hai!

You are a fan of Pawan Kalyan. Was this on your mind when writing the script and directing?

Being a fan helped me a lot. Pawan Sir said only fans can write certain scenes. Being his fan I was conscious and confident. There was no restriction and I felt comfortable.

How was it directing Pawan Kalyan?

I will never forget the first day of the shoot at Pollachi. He shot from 12 to 5 pm and I okayed all his first takes.

Pawan Sir said check out the monitor, don't you see any flaw? It took me two-three days to get out of the fan mould and become the director!

When he danced I whistled for each and every shot!

Image: Pawan Kalyan and Shruti Hassan in Gabbar Singh

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'I am doing my next film with NTR Jr'

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How did you cast Shruthi Haasan?

Shruthi has done contemporary characters so far. Playing a village girl wearing pavada-davani (half-sari) was new for her and I wanted a new looking heroine in the poster.

She has never done a film with Pawan Kalyan. A lot of people were critical saying her films don't do well, but she has proved them wrong.

Why did you choose Abhimanyu Singh as the antagonist and not Sonu Sood who plays that role in Dabangg?

Sonu was busy with Osthi (the Tamil remake of Dabangg).

I liked Abhimanyu's performance in Raktha Charitra. I liked his sensibilities and his eyes. I felt his eyes could speak a lot.

Devisriprasad's music has also done well...

DSP is most successful. He is rocking in Tamil and Hindi too. If Pawan Kalyan is the power star on screen, DSP is off screen!

You are now doing a film with NTR Jr...

Yes, I'm working on a script. It's too early to talk about it.

We will probably start to shoot the film in October-November and aim for a summer release.

Image: Pawan Kalyan and Shruti Haasan in Gabbar Singh

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You have done just three films in about six-seven years. Why so?

My first film bombed and I had to struggle. It's the industry which gave me the gap.

Do you have any other film plans?

There are a couple of plans. One Telugu film with producer Parachuri Prasad is confirmed.

Being from Hyderabad I am interested in Hindi films. I would love to direct a Hindi film.

I'm writing a script but I don't know when it will be ready.

Any stars you particularly want to work with?

I want to work with Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan.

Did Salman Khan see Gabbar Singh? There are rumours that he's taken the new portions for his film...

He didn't see the film but I explained the changes I made. He has been busy and will see the film hopefully when he's free.

Image: Movie poster of Gabbar Singh

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