Dressed in an unassuming pullover with a black and grey cap on his head, 29-year-old Sujeeth Reddy is a picture of calm just hours ahead of the release of his film Saaho.
With a star of Prabhas's stature in just his second film and an eyebrow raising budget, Sujeeth has created enormous expectation amongst movie-goers.
But the young director, in a freewheeling chat with TNM, says that he holds immense belief in his script.
How has the run-up to this film been ? You must be nervous.
It is has not been all pressure, as would be expected. I'm actually very excited about the film. It has, of course, been a long time (for film to release), what with Prabhas shooting Baahubali and me prepping for this film . But hopefully it will be accepted well.
There are high expectations, both from you and Prabhas.
Yes, the expectation is high. But you have to keep it away and do what you believe in. You can't always try to work based on expectations. You need to do justice to the story you are trying to do. I think we have done justice and now it depends on how people view the final product.
Did you expect the film to take this long to complete?
I didn't expect it to take so long. Baahubali ended two years back and we started shooting only in November. We took time to prepare for the shoot. Half-baked work really doesn't make sense to me. The film needed this kind of time and treatment. There were several foreign locations. Some were replicas that we created in India and others we traveled to. If you watch the film, you will realise that it is the script that takes you to these places.
Was Prabhas your first choice for this role?
I don't think we choose Prabhas, he chooses us. We have the same producer as Baahubali did and I knew Prabhas before even I made my first movie. He saw my short films and working with him was obviously a great experience.
Why did you think Shraddha Kapoor was suited for the role of the female protagonist?
I wanted a heroine who could handle both action and emotion and balance the two. Shraddha was the right choice for it. We met her through some people we know and narrated the script. For her, it was the first film in the south. And I felt that if she accepted this film, it will work across the country.
You have worked on low budget short films and features in the past. But what were the challenges which came with a big budget film like Saaho?
Every single penny you put in a film , the output must be seen on screen. I wanted to show that we can make Hollywood level films in India too and at the same time, we want to give equal importance to the story and emotion.
Is the movie an out and out action film?
For any movie you need to have a tinge. For example if you see Bajrangi Bhaijaan , you understand that it is an emotional journey, Baahubali also you immediately know is a period film. Yes, we have a tinge of action in our movie. But more than the action, I have faith in the script of our story . If that works, then everything will.
This is your second film with cinematographer Madhi. What did you decide to focus on during your discussions?
Heâ€™s very comfortable with me. I also love him a lot. We wanted to make the best out of what we have, give the best for Prabhas. After Baahubali, it was all about Prabhas.
Was it challenging to shoot the action sequences?
I love action very much. You write all those action sequences just like the rest of the story. You need a clear idea what you exactly need. It is very easy for me because we have an action director. You just need to convey it on screen. We worked with Kenny Bates, Ben Chang, all top people. We had proper paperwork and they took it to the next level.
Action sequences tend to get monotonous when used throughout the film. How did you tackle this?
You have 100 things to say with action and t should take the story forward. When the story is going forward, its not boring. And all of it has to be different. We have action between girl and boy also in the film.
What has been your learning experience from this movie?
The whole journey had been great. I need a month to just sit and think of everything that has happened during the journey. Sometimes when I sit idle, I think of all the things I've done and it would surprise me that Iâ€™ve done such things. If you ask me to shoot it again, I don't think I will be able to.