The teaser for Prabhas's upcoming film Saaho was released strategically the day before Baahubali 2 hit the screens and it was played in many theatres before the film was screened.
The title itself takes off from Saaho re Baahubali, the immensely popular song from Baahubali: The Conclusion. Without a doubt, playing Baahubali is the biggest role that Prabhas has landed thus far. It has increased his fan base beyond the two Telugu speaking states and has made him a recognizable and much loved star among audiences across the country. In fact, the frenzy that Prabhas whips up every time he appears on screen as Baahubali reminds one of times when actors who played mythological roles would be treated as gods by their fans.
However, though it makes sense to capitalise on the popularity that the Baahubali character has given him, it would be a mistake if Prabhas were to get into an image trap. The character is so larger than life that very few roles can match up to it. While the audience lapped up Baahubali's superhuman abilities, plucking him out of the epic premise and setting him in contemporary times would just turn him into the usual noisy hero. Tollywood already has enough of those and while this brand of cinema continues to have mass appeal, it would sadly restrict Prabhas's considerable talent. Look at Rajinikanth in the neighbouring state - the actor always worries if his fans would accept him if he went beyond the narrow borders of the typical 'Rajini' film.
Having played an all conquering hero, there are reports that Prabhas might next feature in Randamoozham, the audaciously ambitious project based on a retelling of the Mahabharatha. It would, of course, be delightful if Prabhas essays a powerful mythological hero once again but what would be even better is if he were to take up the challenge of playing a character who is less lily white than Baahubali. Even an antagonist.
Mohanlal, who plays Bheema, the central protagonist in Randamoozham, is among the few superstars in the country who have constantly escaped the image trap and have done a wide variety of roles. After playing a tiger wrestling hero in Pulimurugan, the actor's next release, Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol saw him as a family man going through a typical mid-life crisis.
The teaser for Prabhas's Saaho promises a futuristic action thriller. It shows him seated with blood on his face. The villain's voice says, "I can see from the blood how much you've beaten him up." To this, his scared goon says, "The blood is not his, it belongs to our people."
While the genre couldn't be more different from Baahubali, one hopes that the essence of Prabhas's character would also be different from the one he played in the franchise. Too many talented actors have been boxed in by their own superstardom and considering we're at a time when audiences are embracing different kinds of films, it would be a pity if Prabhas doesn't break out of the image trap in his upcoming projects.