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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 14:47 IST

Salaar director Prashanth Neel says 'you can't plan to make a pan-India movie'

Neel and Yash, the lead star of KGF series, rose to national prominence after the success of KGF: Chapter 1, the 2018 Kannada period action film.

Prashanth Neel
Prashanth Neel file photo | Image:Prashanth Neel/X
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Filmmaker Prashanth Neel says movies like his "KGF" franchise that organically travel across the country do well, a phenomenon he hopes is repeated with his latest directorial "Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire".

Neel and Yash, the lead star of "KGF" series, rose to national prominence after the success of "KGF: Chapter 1", the 2018 Kannada period action film. Its 2022 follow-up, "KGF: Chapter 2" also starred Bollywood actors Raveena Tandon and Sanjay Dutt in key roles.

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The director, who made his debut with 2014's "Ugramm", said he never plans his films as pan-India projects.

"I've written a story and I've executed it. I don't know if it ('Salaar') is going to be a pan-India movie or not. But if it becomes a pan-India movie, then that's an absolute bonus for all of us. Like, 'KGF' happened very organically.

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"Movies that happen organically always do well. You can't plan to make a pan-India movie, you can't plan and say that I'm going to bring these actors from this industry to make it a pan-India movie. It doesn't work like that," Neel told PTI in an interview here.

"Salaar" revolves around two friends Deva and Vardha, played by Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran, who end up becoming arch rivals. It will be released on Friday.

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The 43-year-old director said the journey of the film started over 15 years ago.

"It was an idea that was in my head. But it needed a very big budget. So, I made my first film 'Ugramm', then I made 'KGF'. I was occupied with 'KGF' for almost eight years. During COVID-19, I narrated this subject ('Salaar') to Prabhas sir and he agreed to do it," he recalled.

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The USP of "Salaar" is an emotion between two friends and how this emotion translates to violence forms the core of the story, Neel said.

According to the director, equal importance should be given to the story and the characters in big-budget films.

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"We make a movie to tell a story and we want the right characters, right actors to portray every role. There's a commercial aspect with a star and we get bigger budgets to do what we want. But the criteria is the same that this is the character, it is not the hero who is playing the hero because if we think like that then we have lost the battle," he added.

With "Salaar", Neel said his aim was for Prabhas ("Baahubali") to shed his superstar persona.

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"There was never a pressure to make 'Salaar'. The idea is to make sure that the actor looks like a character. You don't want to show Prabhas as Prabhas, you want to show him as a character and I tried our best to do something like that," he said.

While the director acknowledged that Prabhas has had a difficult run at the box office with his recent releases "Adipurush" and "Radhe Shyam", he said a star can always bounce back after a hit film.

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"Prabhas is a big star. After 'Baahubali', he became the biggest star. People are not going to forget something like that. Stars have always been stars; they can have one flop or 20 flops, they just need to give one hit. Recently, Shah Rukh Khan showed us that a star is always a star, there's no denying that," Neel added.

A box office showdown is expected between "Salaar" and Rajkumar Hirani's "Dunki". The latter, starring Shah Rukh Khan, will hit the screens a day before "Salaar" on Thursday.

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About the release, Neel said he doesn't meddle in the business aspect of a movie.

"I don't get involved in the logistics of what happens after the movie is ready. My brief is I've to make a movie on a given budget and I've to give it to them at a time that they want to release," he said.

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The filmmaker said he has utmost respect for Hirani and Shah Rukh.

"I loved whatever they put out (referring to assets of ‘Dunki’). People always want to see the most human thing in any trailer or teaser, so we try to do that. Even in the larger-than-life movies we try to do that." Produced by Hombale Films, "Salaar" also stars Shruti Haasan, Eshwari Rao, Jagapathi Babu and Sriya Reddy. 

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 14:35 IST

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