We had started off the shooting of Gabbar Singh with out Pawan Kalyan as he needed to grow his beard again after shaving it off for a song shoot of Panjaa. I felt that Om Puri character should have been much better in Dabangg film. I loved Abhimanyu Singh’s eyes in Rakta Charitra film. I though he would match the hero in the role of Siddappa Naidu. But he was struggling with the lines on sets of Gabbar Singh. Hence I increased the length of Om Puri character played by Tanikella Bharani in Telugu so that he would support the villain with dialogue part.
We went to Pollachi and did child episodes with Akash (Puri Jagan’s son). Pawan Kalyan entered the sets of Gabbar Singh on the afternoon of 4 December 2011. The first dialogue shot on him was ‘padi mandiki kavalsina vaadini padi kalaalu vundela aaseervadinchamma’. I okayed the dialogue in the first take. The next shot was of Pawan Kalyan getting down from a jeep. We shot several shots till 4:30 pm and all shots were okayed in the first take. Pawan Kalyan started doubting me after 4:30 because I was not asking for any retake. I told him that I was still in a trance about directing him. He cautioned me to look at all shots done that day for any retakes. Luckily all the shots came out well. We have finished the shots of the day very early. Pawan Kalyan was surprised at rapid execution of scenes. I told him that Pawan Kalyan should never wait when he is on sets. We wanted to shoot next day’s work, but it rained. We took it as a blessing.
He gave complete freedom to me on the sets. He let me do the film the way I wanted. He got involved in the scenes and did betterment as well. His body language suited the character. Gabbar Singh is an example of how a Pawan Kalyan’s film will be if he involves himself with the film. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep in nights imagining the scenes of next day’s shoot with Pawan Kalyan.
All the scenes related to police station were shot in Pollachi. Pawan Kalyan is a bundle of energy. The chair we used for Antakshari scene is an antique piece and is full of weight. But Pawan swirled it off in air with a single hand. Usually that chair needs two assistants to shift it. People are saying that all scenes in police station were good. The reason could be that we were cut-off from the world with no cell phone communication. Everybody focused on shooting and got emotionally involved in shoot. I think some magic happened over there. For example, Mandu Babulu song was shot in 6 hours (from 6 pm to midnight). Everybody were in a high zone when we shot scenes in Pollachi. We have continued the same flow in subsequent Hyderabad shoot.
I wanted to shoot a couple of superlative fights, but Pawan Kalyan wanted the fights to be natural. After shooting the fights, I realised that Pawan Kalyan was correct.
We lost around 5 days of work in Pollachi due to weather and 10 days of work in Gujarath (introduction fight) due to delay in permissions. We lost around 20 days of work.
Power Star’s commitment
The producer felt that 9 May (release dates of Gang Leader, JVAS etc) is an ideal date for the release to have summer advantage. Though we requested him very casually, Pawan Kalyan took it pretty seriously and made sure that all the lost days were compensated with his rigorous work and fabulous commitment.
Pawan Kalyan has never done something like completing shoot of 4 songs in 20 days. He shot Dekho Dekho Gabbar singh song from morning 9 to evening 6. From 6 pm t0 12 midnight, he did aakasam ammai aithe in night effect. Then he came to Prasad labs and dubbed his voice from midnight 12 to early morning 4. Again, he is back at sets 7 am to do Dekho Dekho Gabbar Singh song. He worked with that time table for a week.
These songs were shot after the Gujarath’s episode is completed. Pawan Kalyan always uses real guns even if it’s a shoot. Gujarath episodes have extensive use of guns. Pawan Kalyan played with guns like toys. Those real guns are really heavily, Due to that, he had acute wrist pain. He risked his health to complete the movie in time. We released film on May 11 instead of May 9 because all theaters will be available only on Friday (due to weekly agreements with earlier movies.
Reason for the success of Gabbar Singh
The prime reason is the confidence and trust Pawan Kalyan and me had on the script. We believed that we were doing a blockbuster. The another main reason is the fans of Pawan Kalyan. I could sense Pawan Kalyan’s fans positive feel about Gabbar Singh right from the time of announcement. Telugu filmindustry personalities too were curiously waiting for the release (though a couple of producers commented negatively about Shruti Hassan). We worked really hard for the film. I made a super hit film. But Pawan Kalyan’s stamina and Pawan Kalyan’s fans made it a blockbuster. If Pawan were not there in Gabbar Singh, it wouldn’t have got so much collections. Pawan Kalyan generated such huge revenues with average films. Whole industry, fans and distributors were waiting for a blockbuster from Pawan Kalyan so that they can witness the real stamina of Pawan. Gabbar Singh proved it.
Music connection in talkie part
I am a huge music lover. My days starts and ends with listening to the songs of Ilayaraja and Kishore Kumar. I like the lyrics of Gulzar and Veturi. If you observe songs in my films, lyrics are pretty catchy. Due to commercial outlook, I am not able to have songs/lyrics the way I want. I write down all lyrics I like in a book. Whenever we happen to listen to a song for an odd situation in life, its pretty entertaining. How does it feel when radio plays Bhale Manchi roju song when you are having a bad day? That's why I used popular old songs in the background music whenever I get an opportunity.
Romancing the rowdies - an antakshari
Pawan Kalyan has specifically told me that he has more romance with rowdies than heroine in his films. Films like Tammudu, Kushi, Badri, Jalsa are perfect examples. He has asked me for fun episodes and gana bhajana programs with rowdies as Pawan is playing the role of a cop for the first time. It was Pawan Kalyan’s idea that gave a way to Antyakshari. But I had a dilemma to incorporate it in first half or second half. We didn’t want it as just an entertainment episode and we wanted it to have a purpose. Hence, we incorporated the point that the guy who loses should give the details of villain’s plan. After watchin film, a few IPS officers said that it’s a good idea to have Anthakshari instead of normal torturous methods of criminals. In my next film with NTR, I am going to use music track for the love story between hero and heroine.
How different is Pawan Kalyan in personal life and what did you learn from him?
He didn’t act much in Gabbag. He was himself in Gabbar Singh. The characters should match his wavelength and frequency. Or he should like the characterization and get into the skin of character. Pawan Kalyan never designs his films. He don’t force films to happen. He is a firm believer in nature. He is beyond cinema and there is life for him beyond cinema. He doesn’t derive happiness only from the success of a film. The caption of Gabbar Singh - ‘He is Special’ suits him perfectly. I told in music launch of Gabbar Singh about Pawan Kalyan that ‘aa sthayi veru. aa sthanam veru’ (his stature and his position is way above). If Pawan Kalyan connects to a character, the film result will be that of Gabbar Singh. He has won many things at personal front.
After working with Pawan Kalyan, I had learn that we should crave for high quality in our work, not for the success. I am basically an aggressive guy who seek for the best at personal level. I was selfish. Pawan Kalyan taught me to embrace the people around and be responsible for them too. He calls everybody as meeru (even for boys). I learnt treat fellow human beings with respect irrespecitive of their social/hierarchical/financial status. His passion towards work is impeccable. He always maintain high standards and highest quality in personal life.
I will do my next film with young tiger NTR. It was NTR who listened to my story first after the flop of Shock. He treats me like a personal friend. It will be a fultoo entertainer that focuses on his age. It is going to be a youth mass entertainer. I had written around 15 dialogues so far. My team members comment that I write dialogue first and then construct a scene around it. It will be a festival film for NTR fans and I will go to shoot only after making sure that script so entertaining.