Interview : A R Murugadoss – No one can match Mahesh’s dedication levels
Your association with Mahesh Babu?
During the making of Stalin, writer Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao introduced me to Mahesh. Post that meeting, I happened to see Athadu and was mesmerized with the all-round performance of the star. I met him later and revealed the fact that I wanted to make a film with him.
What made you cast Mahesh for Spyder?
The moment I thought I would make a spy thriller, Mahesh was the first person that came to my mind. He has the looks, aura and mass following which needed for the role.
Working with Mahesh Babu?
I am just amazed seeing the dedication of Mahesh for this film. For about 80 days, we only shot at nights and he did not complain even once and always used to come on time. He is a director’s actor who gives what you want. No one in India could have pulled off the role of Spyder the way Mahesh did. I have become his fan now.
What does the Spyder do in the film?
Everyone thinks that it is a device oriented spy thriller. But the Spyder is only a part and there are various other social and emotional elements which make the film even more interesting. The film has an underlying message which has been told in a very interesting way through the intelligence agencies in India.
Did you make any changes for Tamil and Telugu?
No, the story is based in Hyderabad and even for the Tamil version, the setup is shown as Hyderabad. Why didn’t you make the film in Hindi as well? Right from the day I wrote the script, I felt that I would make it in Tamil and Telugu only. Even though the film has pan India appeal, making a bilingual itself was hectic.
About Mahesh’s popularity in Tamil?
From the past few years, everyone knows Mahesh very well. He is a huge star in Tamil Nadu. Mahesh has dubbed so well in Tamil that even I was surprised after seeing the output. He will be an even bigger star after Spyder.
Why is the film taking so much time to wrap up?
Making a bilingual is no joke. The set up is so huge that every shot was changed for both Tamil and Telugu. It is an action film so a lot of special effects are involved. The post-production is on in several countries and all these are taking a lot of time. Movie will hit the screens on Sep 27
What made you choose Rakul Preet Singh?
Initially, we thought of roping in a top heroine from Bollywood but we backed out at the last minute. As the film was made in two languages, I wanted a heroine who would know the language as it would save time for us. Rakul was the first choice and she was brought on right away.
Working with the producers?
I knew Madhu garu from Tagore days and even Mahesh wanted him as the producer for this film. The amount of support the makers have given for this film is unparallel. Without their support, things would not have turned out the way they did.
Coming back to this film, why did you want to make it as a bilingual? Is it because of Mahesh?
Actually, Mahesh Babu and I had discussed the possibility of us doing a film together 10 years ago. Somehow, that kept getting delayed. I was also tied up with my Tamil and Hindi projects. One day, I decided I should do a Tamil-Telugu bilingual. Almost every film of mine has been dubbed in Telugu, and remade in Hindi, and I wanted to do a Tamil-Telugu bilingual where every artiste speaks in both these languages in the respective versions. I decided to approach Mahesh. He was also interested and that is how we started. With Mahesh, I know Telugu and he knows Tamil, so there was never a problem.
Everyone in this team knew both Tamil and Telugu, so we were comfortable shooting both the versions. This was easier than how I felt while directing my Hindi film, though was almost like shooting two films. The market in Telugu is also huge. I am a recognisable director here and he is a superstar there, so a bilingual film widens its business.
Speaking about people moving beyond faces, you have been doing films only with top stars. Why is that?
Every filmmaker wants to work with big stars, but many do not get the opportunity. I got a chance to direct a star in my first film itself, and the offers that followed resulted in me doing films with big stars. I do want to do small-budget films, and the work they demand is the same as what the films that I am doing now demand. In fact, the responsibility increases when one does a small-budget film. For a star film, you have people who will support the project in one way or the other, from the hero to the music director to the cameraman.
Spyder’s music has been composed by Harris Jayaraj. AR Murugadoss has directed this high budget spy thriller and Rakul Preet plays the female lead in it. SJ Suryah essays the antagonist’s role. Tagore Madhu and NV Prasad have bankrolled the movie on a huge scale.