Playing a young tank commander in Major Ravi’s 1971: Beyond Borders was not a cakewalk for actor Allu Sirish. However, the Telugu actor, who is making his Malayalam debut, is certain that he would never trade his character for another, despite the many sweaty and claustrophobic hours he spent inside an army tank.
The actor speaks about driving an army tank for the first time in his life, working with Mohanlal and why he has been intimidated by his brother Allu Arjun.
Can you elaborate on Lieutanant Chinmay’s character?
I happened to meet director Major Ravi at an event in Bombay. It was just a random meeting where I told him that I enjoyed watching Keerthichakra.
One thing led to another and he told me he was doing a film on the Bangaladesh Liberation war. He asked me if I was interested. I had always wanted to do a war biopic, but, of course, when I was older (in my late 30’s). But the offer, where I play a naive and impulsive commander, who wants to win a Param Vir Chakra for his heroic deed, was too good to resist.
Did it feel any different doing a Malayalam film?
I love the treatment by the Malayalam directors. The Telugu industry deals with similar themes but the films made in Malayalam are more realistic.
Though it speaks about war, it has dealt largely with human emotions. I don’t think there is a villain. Even the Pakistani officers are a bunch of people with a personal life fighting it out on the war zone.
Your experience of working with Mohanlal?
A great one only knows how to elevate the performance of other actors, however small they are. Mohanlal is very down-to-earth and since I had a bit of a language barrier he did shoots with me and gave me advice.
Any fascinating things you learned during the shoot?
We spoke to several soldiers about their war experiences. I felt so proud to learn that our army is more disciplined in handling the tanks and equipment, even though the Pakistan army had the advantage of using superior machinery.
Your brother Allu Arjun has a great fan base in Kerala. Are you afraid of being in his shadow?
I have always been intimidated by him. But he sweated it out to become who he is today. The first thing he told me: There is already an Allu Arjun. Don’t try to be me.
You will only fall. Instead, create your own style and you will have your own following,’ he said. I didn’t have much of a pressure either because I don’t think people compare siblings as much as they do father and son legacies.
Other movies in the kitty?
There is a Telugu movie B-57 which will release soon. I am keen to do a sports biopic and hoping one will come my way. This is because I have always been a cricket and wrestling fan.