Director Harish Shanker, who started off his career with ‘Shock’, starring Ravi Teja and Jyothika, is now the most sought after director in Tollywood. His movie ‘Gabbar Singh’ created a new opening day box-office record in the Telugu film industry and finds itself among the top record-breakers at the national level too.
Self-confessed Power Star fan
He calls himself more of a Pawan Kalyan fan than a director. “I have seen ‘Khushi’, ‘Tholi Prema’ and ‘Thammudu’ more than 30 times in a theatre and I still cannot get over his style,” says Harish Shanker who is living his dream of directing his childhood hero in ‘Gabbar Singh’ and basking in the glory. “Back in my college days at MNR College, I used to recite his dialogues in his style and dance like him. He was like the youth icon for all of us. The way he dressed and the way he carried himself was just amazing,” he recalls.
And how did ‘Gabbar Singh’ happen?
“I had approached Pawan Kalyan some time ago with a script. He liked it but the project did not materialise. But after ‘Mirapakaay’ was released, Pawan Kalyan approached me and said he wanted to remake Dabangg with the title ‘Gabbar Singh’ as he was very impressed with the movie. He asked me if I could remake it in Telugu?” Harish Shanker explains.
That was the moment he had been waiting for. “I had a feeling from that day that this movie will break all records at the box-office. I knew I had a huge responsibility,” he adds.
In and around Gabbar Singh
Explaining the thought-process behind the movie, he shares, “People still go crazy about Sholay and a character like Gabbar Singh has that promising element. And ‘Dabangg’ is a very entertaining movie, which is quite close to a lot of Telugu movies. So we thought why not go ahead with it.” Asked if he believes in remaking movies? He replies, “I believe in talent and execution. I think any movie should have all the necessary elements and people should appreciate it.”
Sharing his experiences shooting for the movie, he says, “It was an amazing experience shooting with Pawan Kalyan. He is the back-bone of the movie.” Pawan Kalyan had to wait for 11 years after ‘Khushi’ for another superhit, ‘Gabbar Singh’.
Did Harish have to market the movie well enough to bring back the masses to the silver screen? “Not at all,” says Harish. “For a star like Pawan Kalyan, I don’t think one needs to market anything. ‘Gabbar Singh’ is a treat to all of his fans like his other movies. People will come and watch him, because they love him,” he claims.
Shruti Hassan was the leading lady of the movie. Was she their first choice for the role? “We wanted a fresh face for the movie and preferably actors who haven’t acted alongside Pawan Kalyan. I thought of Shruti Hassan, as she has a very pretty face and suited the role of Bhagyalakshmi in the movie,” the director reasons.
Banning the piracy pirates
Within a week of the release of the movie, complete DVD rip version of the movie is already available on a few websites. Like every other director, Harish Shanker believes in killing piracy. “Piracy is something which all of us are fighting against. It takes a lot to make a movie and piracy means great loss for us. We will make sure all the links on the internet are deleted. We request people to stop uploading videos,” he says, promising rewards for anyone who helps him tackle piracy.
Stepping on the police line
‘Gabbar Singh’ landed in a controversy for the way Pawan Kalyan sports the police uniform in the movie. Giving his side of the story, Harish explains, “We all respect police officers and have made sure that we do not offend them in anyway. Pawan Kalyan is not wearing a police cap in any of the scenes in the movie, as we did not want to hurt anybody’s sentiments. A lot of my relatives and friends, who are police officers, have given me great feedback on the movie.”
“My next project with Junior NTR is finalised. I read him the script and he really liked it. Even the cast has been finalised, but I guess it’s too early to announce all that now. I will surely make an official announcement very soon.”
And does this Power Star fan, have another movie plan for Pawan Kalyan?
“I can make 100 movies with Pawan Kalyan. I have planned another script with him. I don’t know how will he react to it and if things will work out. It’s too early to say anything about the script right now,” he shares.
Pawan fans too want him to give them one more Gabbar.