Prabhudeva talks about working with Salman Khan, the pandemic's impact on content, and the future of movies

Prabhudeva’s recent movie, the Salman Khan-Disha Patani starrer Radhe – Your Most Wanted Bhai, had an OTT release on Eid. Although it missed its big screen date with most of India, but the film is doing brisk business in parts of the overseas market. The movie collected approx. 600k USD (Rs 4.39 cr) on Day 3 in overseas taking the three-day total to approx. 1.78 mn USD (Rs 13.04 cr). Based on the 2017 Korean action thriller The Outlaws, this is Prabhudeva’s third film with Salman with after Wanted (2009) and Dabangg 3 (2019).

As a director he believes Salman Khan as a star has gone through major transformation, ever since he first started working with him in 2009. “There is some kind of a transformation, definitely! His persona as a star has only evolved with time and he also feels the pulse of the audience really well. With so many years of experience in the industry, he has kind of mastered the art of stardom. As a superstar he knows what people want instinctively,” he points out.

Salman Khan may be a phenomenon but director Prabhudeva is a star in his own right. After experimenting with acting, producing and directing he insists dance is his first love. “I am a choreographer first, and dance is my passion. Dance has made me what I am today and I will always be a choreographer first. Then comes direction... I love and enjoy making films. Acting would feature third on the list,” he reveals.

When asked how the Bollywood brand of hero-worship is different from that in Southern films? “You know, I love to watch Amitabh Bachchan films. Especially the action films he worked in when he was younger. Similarly, I also enjoy watching action films that have Tom Cruise. Whether it is Hollywood, Bollywood or Southern films — we all love that particular kind of heroism. When the hero makes an entry and beats up the baddies, people love to watch it! It is a universal emotion. So, we are basically transforming the same emotions in the modern-day scenario,” he points out.

Prabhudeva also believes that as a director it is his job to entertain the audience first, a reason why never shies away from making out and out masala films. “I have made love stories like Ramaiya Vastavaiya and comedy films simultaneously. Down south also I’ve done love stories. As a director it is my job to make different kinds of films. I am willing to work with any genre only if I am convinced with the idea.”

While talking about the movie, the director says, “This is the first time most of us are experiencing new formats as a part of ‘new normal’. This is going to be an experiment where we release it simultaneously in cinemas and on OTT. We are all trying to adapt to the ways that things are changing around us. Times are sensitive and we hope we can provide some kind of entertainment for people sitting at home. This is just an attempt to make people smile when everything around is so gloomy.”

Has the pandemic then forced the makers to change narratives and storylines in films? “Of course, there will be an impact on storylines. Not just that, the shooting process will also get affected. Looking at the restrictions and strict protocols, it will surely hamper the way a script is written. Foreign travel is restricted, large audiences for shoots are disallowed too! Stories will definitely change with the changing circumstances,” he said.

Recalling how the shoot for Radhe was stalled last year due to the lockdown, he says: “By god’s grace we had finished almost everything. Only two songs and some work were left to be done before the lockdown was announced. About 98 per cent of the film was done before the lockdown. When we resumed shooting, we knew what we wanted to shoot and so we wrapped up everything as soon as we got the chance to do it. Even if we had to shoot Radhe a year later, we would do it the same way as we have done it now.”

Has the viewership pattern changed in the last one year? “In my house nobody is going out. Kids also don’t step out a lot, everyone has their own mind-set. Ready content is always available and we watch whatever is available. That is a big change,” he opines.

Last but not the least, what message would he want to give out to his fans in such bleak times? “My message is simple. Those who have money and can help should help the poor. Those who can stay home, should stay home. Mainly, everyone should help in some way or the other. Even I’m not going out, I’m helping in a small way too. Some people do it with manpower, some help with money, for everyone it’s different. Just help each other and love each other. Don’t lose hope,” he signs off.

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