Megastar Chiranjeevi is more energetic and enthusiastic than he was ten years ago, says director Sreenu Vaitla ahead of the release of his upcoming entertainer Bruce Lee. Chiranjeevi, 60, is appearing on screen after a space of six years in Vaitla’s Bruce Lee and the director dismisses any notion that the actor-turned-politician has lost his shape or charisma.
Vaitla, who previously directed the megastar 10 years ago in 2005 flick Andarivade, says the experience of directing Chiranjeevi’s cameo in Bruce Lee was even more enjoyable. “To be frank, though I had directed Chiranjeevi in Andarivade, but I felt more excited while directing him this time around. It seemed like he rolled back the years and looks even more energetic than he was ten years ago,” gushes the director. When asked how he convinced him to do the cameo, Vaitla quips, “I went up to him having already come up with a good script and told him that if he does the cameo, he will take it to another level.”
Speaking about Bruce Lee, Vaitla reiterates that the film is not inspired from anywhere despite being named after the legendary martial arts star from Hong Kong. “It’s a completely original script. The film revolves around a stuntman. Because he does various stunts, children call him Bruce Lee, it’s more of a nickname,” he reveals.
Ram Charan plays the lead actor in the film and Vaitla says that despite him playing a stuntman, the film cannot be branded as an actioner and that it has something for everyone. “It is a family entertainer and has a good mix of action, drama and comedy. Unlike what people have presumed, it’s not just an action film. Also, the audience will witness Ram Charan’s comic timing for the first time. He has done a wonderful job,” the filmmaker shares.
Ram Charan recently revealed that Chiranjeevi was not the first choice for the cameo appearance and that megastar was approached only after another actor had refused to do it. The revelation led to speculation that it was Charan’s star-uncle Pawan Kalyan who had refused the role. Vaitla, however, paints a completely different picture. “None of this is true. Chiranjeevi was the first choice for the cameo role. In fact, I had written the role keeping Chiranjeevi in mind,” shares the 43-year-old.
Vaitla made headlines for his much publicised spat with actor Prakash Raj after the debacle of Aagadu, but the director is ready to bury the hatchet and says he wouldn’t mind directing him again. “Obviously when to creative minds work together, sometimes there will be clashes. One must not read too much into it. Prakash Raj is a brilliant actor and I would definitely like to work with him again,” he expresses.
Bruce Lee features Rakul Preet Singh as its female lead, who Vaitla says has an important role. When quizzed about why women aren’t given important roles in his movies,he quips, “There is not much space to fit them (women) in these kind of films.”
“If it is a love story, then naturally women will have a prominent role but in a hero-centric film, it’s difficult to make space for them,” he says, underlining the patriarchal attitude of Tollywood’s directors.
The filmmaker has often been criticised for his lack of creativity and sticking to the same formula in most of his films – which ultimately led to the debacle of Aagadu – but a defiant Vaitla says he has tried something different with Bruce Lee. “In the past, I have done films where stories are told in an entertaining way and have also done films where I tried to fit entertainment into the story. Bruce Lee is certainly a story told in an entertaining manner,” he clarifies. “Though I have deviated from my usual template, one thing I can still guarantee is that there will be lots of entertainment for the audience,” he adds.
Produced by DVV Danayya, Bruce Lee is slated to release on October 16.