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Saturday, August 08, 2020

Saaho: Behind the screens and beyond

The cast and crew of Saaho tell us about the making of the film.

Written by S Subhakeerthana | Chennai | Published: August 30, 2019 6:18:54 pm
Saaho Saaho hit screens today.

It is not often that we hear actors readjusting their ‘dates’, so that Prabhas’ Saaho releases, as per the plan. Suriya’s Kaappaan, supposed to hit the screens on August 30, was pushed to September 20.

Originally, the Prabhas-starrer was scheduled to hit theaters on August 15. Since Akshay Kumar had planned to release Mission Mangal on the same day, the makers of Saaho postponed to August 30.

Sujeeth Sujeeth made Saaho keeping Prabhas’ fans in mind. (Photo: Sujeeth/Facebook)

Sujeeth Reddy, Director: Prabhas believed in me and the Saaho script. I don’t feel pressurised at all. I understand why everyone compares Baahubali and Saaho, but ours is different from Rajamouli gaaru’s film.

We put in so much hard work into the making so that Saaho stands out in every aspect. We knew we made an action film on par with any in Hollywood. Of course, we are capable of pulling off an Avengers or a Fast and Furious, for that matter.

Coming to Chennai is like a homecoming. My first film was supposed to be in Tamil. (Smiles)

I want Saaho to win just for Prabhas, if not for anyone. To be honest, each of us, associated with the film, deserves a success. My producers never questioned me. They were happy to give whatever money required for the film.

I made Saaho keeping Prabhas’ fans in mind. I hope they aren’t disappointed. As for the time we took to complete Saaho, it needed that kind of treatment and space. We shot in several foreign locations.

Further, Prabhas was keen on having Sabu Cyril as he had done a great job with the Baahubali sets. Cyril had designed a fictional city in Abu Dhabi, taking a cue from the Batman series. We had more than 300 visual artists to make this a reality. The interiors were built from scratch by Cyril in Hyderabad.

Shraddha refused to use body doubles and performed most of the stunts herself. She is the best choice.

Sabu Cyril Sabu Cyril revealed everything in Saaho has been made on a mammoth scale. (Photo: Sabu Cyril via Wikimedia Commons)

Sabu Cyril, Production Designer: Our movies have never seen anything like this. It took a lot of time to work on the sets because we needed them to be real and perfect. We hired VFX supervisor Kamalakannan and his 20-member team as well. We wanted to give the audience the best. From skyscrapers to unique action sequences, everything has been made on a mammoth scale. International stunt director Kenny Bates choreographed the action sequences. For example, there’s this chopper scene, shot in Italy, involving risky helicopter stunts, for which the team flew to Europe.

Prabhas: I thought of doing a small love story, but Sujeeth came to me with a biggie. He was really confident about Saaho and I could see the excitement in his eyes when he narrated the script. Such was his conviction. Naturally, I couldn’t say no. (Laughs)

Also, I had a 20 per cent pay cut, which was my decision. Initially, we thought of releasing Saaho only in Tamil and Telugu. However, we opted to make the film in multiple languages because of Baahubali’s success.

In fact, we began Saaho with a budget of Rs 150 crore, but it grew with every day. Saaho is a visually powerful and screenplay-driven film. I would love to do a full-fledged Tamil film soon. I was born in Chennai and did my schooling here.

Shraddha Kapoor: Saaho is a multilingual film and I am quite excited and looking forward to watching it. I am lucky to have made my debut in south. At the same time, it was not easy to dub in Telugu. I had to remember my dialogues and like a school kid, I mugged them up. But it was worth the effort. It’s so good to see how all industries have come together as one in order to make a good film.

Prabhas is the sweetest co-star I have ever had. The makers treated me like a family member and whenever we were shooting in Hyderabad, I felt at home.

I may have a string of hits but still, I feel nervous. I have never felt relaxed about my releases. I always felt like going into hiding. But I feel less anxious now. (Laughs) Post-meditation and all that, I am better.

I loved being a part of Saaho because it was challenging. It’s nice to be in a grand film that entertains the audience. Before Saaho, I was offered a couple of south films, but I couldn’t accept them. Maybe, I couldn’t connect. I don’t know. When Saaho came to me, I was jumping with joy. Here’s a shout-out to all south directors. I have seen OK Kanmani and Aruvi. I loved them and I want to do more non-Hindi films.

Ghibran Ghibran revealed the last 30-minutes of Saaho is entirely dependent on the background score. (Photo: Ghibran/Facebook)

Ghibran, Music Director: I have incorporated symphonic sound because Saaho has multiple characters and all of them have different shades. It’s not an easy film to work on. Every Indian can be proud of Saaho and say this is from our country.

The last 30-minutes of Saaho is entirely dependent on the background score. We did the re-recording in Budapest and I had brought in some of the technicians who worked in Star Wars for Saaho. Throughout the process, I saw myself as Sujeeth’s voice because a director always has something to say, which is non-verbal and that totally depends on the music. Sound and music, when treated as characters in the cinematic medium, have a presence of their own.

After I was done scoring the BGM, we transformed it to achieve an electronic dance music-kind of tune. We had a 50-50 ratio of orchestral and electronic arrangement. Only if we experiment with different musicians, who have valuable suggestions that add to the final taste, we get a sense of fresh sound. Understanding Sujeeth was also easier as we have worked together in the past. I am sure the songs of Saaho will appeal to the pan-Indian audience.

Arun Vijay Saaho is Arun Vijay’s first trilingual film.

Arun Vijay: Saaho is my first trilingual film. Post-Yennai Arindhaal, I was flooded with opportunities from the Telugu industry, but I was keen that I make a right move. Sujeeth may look like a college student, but his thought process is magical. I was surprised by the way he managed such a big league of technicians. It was an absolute pleasure knowing Prabhas. He’s a wonderful person to be with. After Baahubali, he could have easily done a film with a top director, but didn’t. Carefully, he chose his next.

Madhie Madhie said Saaho is the most challenging film he has worked on till date. (Photo: Madhie/Facebook)

Madhie, Cinematographer: Saaho is expected to be an extraordinary ride in terms of visual special effects. This film is for a global audience and we felt that it deserved specialised technicians who could make it globally-appealing. My 80-member camera crew coordinated with Kenny Bates’ team and did prep work for the shoot.

For instance, we shot in Abu Dhabi for more than 20 days. Braving the hot sun, we shot on the roads, open spaces and so on. We covered our faces. Apart from that, we had to protect the costly equipment from the 45-degree celsius heat. There were four to five assistants to each camera operator. Overall, with 60 members, the camera team functioned.

We used Scorpio Remote head cameras, five tracking vehicles, a GF8 Crane, a Movie Pro steady cam, apart from the usual drone cameras. In action scenes, nowadays, you can chalk everything up to some kind of computer effects, but Kenny Bates was particularly keen not to cheat the audience. He wanted the action scenes to be organic. Undoubtedly, Saaho is the most challenging film I have worked on till date. The problem is no one had an idea what our work entailed and how invested we would have to be in it all.

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