In 2015, promoting Selvandhan, the Tamil dubbed version of Srimanthudu, Mahesh said “I Was born and brought up in Chennai, and did my schooling and college in St. Bede’s and Loyola respectively. Having lived here for 23 years, Chennai holds a special place in my heart. There is a bond and I feel at home whenever I am in here.” He also promised the Tamil media that if he were presented with a Tamil script, he would definitely consider working in a Tamil film. A. R. Murugadoss, who met Mahesh during these promotions, took the opportunity to narrate a one line story and got an immediate approval to work on the complete script. Thus was born SPYDER, a Tamil-Telugu bilingual, reintroducing Mahesh to his already large legion of fans in Tamil Nadu, but in a direct Tamil language film.
It wasn’t a rosy situation for A. R. Murugadoss (ARM), who had to wait 10 years to actually get a film on sets with Mahesh. Having seen Okkadu in Vijayawada in 2003, ARM, impressed with the “casual, yet intense and subtle” acting chops and star quality of the hero, wondered if he would ever get to direct Mahesh. In 2006, while shooting for his first Telugu film Stalin, he was formally introduced by Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao to Mahesh, who was shooting for Pokiri in the same studio. ARM immediately expressed his desire to work with him and received a positive response. ARM’s Tamil Ghajini, released a few months before, had by then established him as a top director and Pokiri went on to make Mahesh Babu a superstar and this combination had much going for it if it materialized.
Circumstances took a different turn. ARM’s Ghajini interested a star producer’s son, Rana Daggubati, to approach Mahesh to reprise the role in Telugu and an adamant Mahesh, who steadfastly refused to do remakes, turned the offer down. Geeta Arts then acquired the rights, dubbed it in Telugu and remade it in Hindi with Aamir Khan, with Murugadoss directing the film. It became the biggest hit in Aamir Khan’s career and in Indian cinema. Since then, ARM has been courted by several actors in Telugu and Hindi to do films with them, but ARM chose his projects and actors to suit his scripts. Few years down the road, Kaththi turned a big hit in Tamil and again Mahesh refused the remake offer.
Every year both Mahesh and ARM would meet and discuss proposals but each time, both being in the middle of their own projects, could not find time to come together. Come 2015…ARM is ready with a script but Mahesh is busy with Brahmotsavam and could not give dates for his film. ARM insisted it had to be Mahesh, and he would wait for him. The producers N V Prasad and Tagore Madhu were brought on by Mahesh to handle the project. While several projects were being floated as the next vehicle for Mahesh, the announcement of ARM directing Mahesh in his next venture caught everyone by surprise, especially since the production house was not under consideration to do any film with Mahesh since around 2005 when they had proposed a film with Mahesh Babu in joint production with R. B. Choudary’s Supergood Films. It took a good 10 years from 2006 to 2016 for ARM to realize his dream of directing Mahesh Babu.
And what a journey it turned out to be! After the debacle of Brahmotsavam, Mahesh Babu is back to kick ass in his forte – action films. ARM cannot stop gushing about his lead actor, like other directors before him. “I waited 10 years but finally made a good film with him….I have worked with many superstars but Mahesh is completely different from everyone. My wish is that all the directors should do one film with Mahesh Babu, because he is completely a director’s actor…He can sense when a director is not 100% satisfied and will offer to redo the scene even if the director is willing to can it; Mahesh will not compromise. He puts in a lot of effort. I haven’t seen any other star put in such hard work.” What awed ARM even more was that Mahesh Babu did not hesitate to do action scenes on his own after stuntmen refused to do certain scenes for being too risky.
ARM is aware of the burden of expectations while working with Mahesh, especially introducing him to Tamil audiences. For both Mahesh and ARM, this is their first bilingual. Given the different tastes of Telugu and Tamil audiences, ARM had to strike a balance between both audiences’ tastes by coming up with a modern script that would suit both audiences’ sensibilities, while still being stylish, heroic and maintaining an emotional connect to both audiences. Mahesh plays a stylish spy in this action thriller portraying cat and mouse mind games between a spy and a criminal, with high voltage chase sequences and never before seen on Indian screen action sequences taking a big chunk out of the production budget. The scope and grandeur of the project increased as filming progressed and audiences will witness a high budget extravaganza this Dasara festive season.
Harris Jayaraj’s music has already struck a chord with music lovers and the song visuals look stunning as well. Santosh Sivan is handling cinematography for a Mahesh Babu film for the first time, a dream come true for Namrata Shirodkar, who had earlier expressed a wish to see Sivan photograph or direct a Mahesh Babu film.
There are other firsts to this film. S. J. Suryah, who earlier directed Mahesh Babu in Nani, acts as the main antagonist, while Bharath, who earlier acted as a lover boy hero in many films, acts as another antagonist. Bharat says he would not have done it if Mahesh Babu wasn’t the hero of the film, and probably will not repeat a negative act in future films. This is also the first time S. J. Suryah is acting in his Vaali and Khushi’s assistant director ARM’s movie. Rakul Preet Singh is acting as heroine for the first time with Mahesh Babu and with ARM. This is also the first Telugu movie to be shot in VietNam.
Compiled by: CoolCat for PRINCEMAHESH.COM
Cast: Mahesh Babu, Rakul Preet Singh, S. J. Suryah, Priyadarshi, R J Balaji, Bharat Srinivasan, V. Jayaprakash, Deepa Ramanujan, N. Madhusudhan, Rahul Verma Rajput, Shaji Chen
Story, Screenplay, Director: A. R. Murugadoss
Producer: N.V.Prasad, Tagore Madhu
Banner: NVR Cinema
Distributors: Reliance Entertainment, Lyca Productions
Music: Harris Jeyaraj
Cinematography: Santosh Sivan
Editor: A. Srikar Prasad
Audio: Zee Music Company
Lyrics: Ramajogaiah Sastry, Madhan Karky
Singers: Nikitha Gandhi, Brijesh Sandilya, Harini, Jogi Sunitha, Harris Jayaraj, Hari Charan, Sakthi Shree, Pravin Saivi, Christopher Stanley, Sathya Prakash
Production Designer: Rupin Suchak
Stunts: Peter Heins
Release Date: September 27, 2017
Release Languages: Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Arabic