Director Praveen Sattaru had visualized ‘Garuda Vega’ as a new-age, racy action thriller. And he has translated his vision remarkably well, says Rajasekhar, the film’s subtle and measured NIA officer. Read him talk about what is unique about the film, why Praveen Sattaru is a class apart, what made him accept the film, its high points, and more.
What makes you sound very confident about ‘Garuda Vega’?
I had always wanted to do films like ‘Bourne Identity, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’ in a way that would suit the Indian sensibilities. But no producer came forward with such an offer for years. I am lucky that Praveen Sattaru came up with ‘GV’.
This has a gripping narration. Rich visuals and an interesting screenplay make it a unique film for Telugu cinema.
What are you fighting for in the movie?
I am fighting for the country. That’s all I can say for now.
Coming to the budget, what justifies the very high Rs. 25-30 Cr?
‘GV’ is my comeback movie. Praveen came to me with this script. He had called it ‘Magadu-2’ initially. It was later titled ‘Garuda Vega’. The estimated budget was Rs. 7-8 Cr. When I wondered as to who will invest such a huge amount, Jeevitha told me that this film has to be done. My father’s friend’s son was interested in making a movie. Initially, when my father told me about this, I thought he was saying it in order to console me during my bad days. But when we met Koteswar Raju garu (producer) in Chennai, we knew he was ready to do a film with us.
The same film could have been made in Hyderabad and such places. But had it not been shot in Georgia, Malaysia and such places, it wouldn’t have got so much of grandeur. That’s why the budget is totally rational.
You have been all praise for Praveen Sattaru. What makes him a director to watch out for?
Praveen had come to us with a bound script. I have worked with the likes of Muthyala Subbaiah, Raviraja Pinishetty and Kodi Ramakrishna garu. All of them would improvise on the scenes during the shoot. But Praveen never did it even once. The entire shooting was completed in 93 days.
He has got a clear vision. He has taken care of everything related to the film. He even got involved in selling the film to distributors.
What makes this thriller different from other films?
It’s very realistic. Our director took this up after doing a thorough research. When we spoke to NIA officers, they told us that the kind of set-up we had created is very close to how it is in real life. Even their behaviour is similar to how I behave in the film.
So, how did you approach the role, you being a known angry young man?
My director didn’t want me to act the way I did in ‘Ankusam’ and the like. I am an NIA officer in the film. And in such an officer’s life, finding suspects is a daily routine. So, he wouldn’t behave like the hero of ‘Anuksam’ upon finding a suspect. My acting in ‘GV’ is totally subtle and understated. You will see a new Rajasekhar.
What kind of physical exercises did you put in?
I underwent a physical training for this movie. It’s a James Bond-like movie where the hero has to do flight and parachute shots. I promised the director that I will be as energetic as I was in ‘Prathighatana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’. But a month before the shoot was to start, I had chest pain. A stent was put in my left artery. I was asked to take complete rest for one month. But after just 10 days, I was ready to join the shoot.
How is the pre-release buzz? We heard that in the US, about 80-100 premieres have already been planned.
I would have been happy if the Teaser got even 1 million views. But in the first five days, it got 5 million views. It has so far got more than 7-8 million views. The Trailer is a bigger hit. Yesterday when I met Chiranjeevi garu, he told me that he and his team at his office had watched the trailer and talked about it!
Who all do you thank for the movie?
I thank my father, my producer, my director, and my wife. This film is Jeevitha’s gift to me. She had always wanted me to do a film like this.
Are you ready to play negative roles?
Yes. Even if ‘Garuda Vega’ becomes a big hit, I will be ready. I was looking to do roles like the one played by Arvind Swamy in ‘Dhruva’. I wanted to act with Chiranjeevi garu and Ram Charan. It’s always easy to play a villain. A hero has to cry beautifully. But a villain need not look handsome. He can do anything by making his face dirty and yet he will be liked.
You became very emotional at the pre-release event. Why has your mother’s death affected you so much?
I am feeling like a criminal. I am guilty that I couldn’t save my mother. My mother complained about pain in the stomach on the day when she died. I spent five minutes’ of crucial time thinking about whether I should give her the same tablet that I had given her the previous day. Had I administered her the same tablet on time, she might have been alive.