Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas on Saakshyam and his rise through the ranks: 'Always wanted to be an action hero'
Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas' Saakshyam has been in the news for its scale & unique theme, which intertwines five elements of nature with a big action drama.
For someone who made his debut in 2014, Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas’ rise through the ranks in Telugu cinema has been puzzling, to say the least. His debut film, Alludu Seenu, was directed by VV Vinayak and had Samantha in a lead role, along with Prakash Raj, and Tamannaah appearing in a special song. Although his second film, Seepdunnodu, didn’t quite do well at the box-office, in hindsight, it was a film that changed his career. Not only did Speedunnodu pave way for him to collaborate with the likes of Boyapati Sreenu and Sriwass, but also helped him expand his reach to North Indian market, where the dubbed version has been declared as a hit on TV and digital media. And now, his latest film Saakshyam has already gotten the Telugu film industry awaiting its result with bated breath.
"Speedunnodu might not have worked theatrically, but it helped me reach out to a wider audience, especially in North India. Because of that film, all my subsequent films have been getting big offers for Hindi satellite rights. Moreover, Boyapati Sreenu once told me that he decided to cast me in Jaya Janaki Nayaka when he saw my performance in the climax portions of Speedunnodu. It’s all quite overwhelming and surprising at the same time. Life is full of surprises...isn’t it? Sometimes your failures too can open a lot of doors for you!" Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas laughs.
So, how does one explain this staggering rise of a young hero in just four years? "I would like to believe that it’s because of my hard work and passion towards cinema. And when people see how committed you are, the word spreads around quite quickly. I guess there’s a good space for actors who are interested in commercial cinema. There are very few actors in my age group who have an action hero image," Sai Sreenivas says, as a matter of fact. He couldn’t be more right. Most of his peers have been toying around with romantic films, family entertainers, and some have even chosen an offbeat track to carve a niche for themselves; however, Sai Sreenivas set his eyes on the biggest pie in the market — action dramas.
He recalls being fascinated with action films right from his childhood and it hasn’t changed since then. When he was 10 years old, his father, Bellamkonda Suresh, had produced VV Vinayak-NTR Jr’s Aadi, which went on to become a huge hit. "That was the first time when I realised that a film can change your life. The film was a blockbuster and my dad made so much money that we moved to a bigger house. Life became much more comfortable. When I connect the dots, my fascination for films, especially action films, began from there. And ever since, I’ve always wanted to be an action hero. Whether it’s Baahubali in Telugu or Avengers in Hollywood, the biggest of hits have always been action dramas," Sai recalls.
In just four years, the actor has reached a stage where his films boast of a budget of anywhere between Rs 25-30 crores, and at times, these big numbers have fuelled rumours that his father has been funding his films, at least partially. Sai, however, laughs off these rumours saying, "Everyone knows that my father lost plenty of money in previous years. Lawrence’s Ganga was the last film in his production that made good money. There’s no question of him financing my films now (laughs). If my films are being made at such big budgets today, it’s purely because of the story and the faith that the directors and producers have on me. I’m a director’s actor and I’ll do anything that my director tells me to do — even if it means I’ll have to jump off a cliff. In fact, we did some crazy stunts in Saakshyam and it’s not easy at all. I’ve always believed that the directors are the superheros and its their vision that holds a film together."
His latest film Saakshyam, directed by Sriwass, has been in the news for its scale and unique theme, which intertwines the five elements of nature with a big action drama. In the film, Sai plays an adventurous video game designer, and he has had to learn flyboarding, jet skiing, and desert biking for some of the action sequences. Once Peter Hein came onboard as an action choreographer, the team had the license to go all out to pull off some crazy stunt sequences. "Peter Hein coming onboard was one of our biggest achievements while making the film. We shot for more than 160 days in Hyderabad, Pollachi, Bellary, Varanasi, USA, and Dubai. Saakshaym offers a larger-than-life theatrical experience that will definitely impress people," Sai says.
Given the scale of the film, Sriwass got a huge star cast onboard including Pooja Hegde, Jagapathi Babu, Ravi Kishan, Ashutosh Rana, Sharath Kumar, Meena, and Madhu Guruswamy to name a few. "Every actor in the film got quite excited when they heard the storyline and it’s not everyday that you have actors like Jagapathi Babu, Ravi Kishan, Ashutosh Rana come onboard for the same film. Since the film fiddles with the concept of five elements of nature, you’ll feel like there are five climax sequences in the film. It’s a unique film and I’m sure that it’ll work no matter which language its remade in," Sai says, adding, "Pooja has done a fabulous job and she has done action sequences without a body double. All of us have worked really hard for this film."
Meanwhile, the actor has started shooting for two more films, both of which have Kajal Aggarwal in a lead role along with him. "I’m currently shooting a film which is being directed by Teja. He’s pretty happy with the work that I’ve done so far. That’s a big deal for me. Nothing is more important than impressing my directors first. After a string of commercial films, I’m trying something new," Sai avers.
Ask him how he handles criticism, especially when it comes to his acting, the actor offers a candid take on his career. "I’ve done just four films so far, and I’ve a long way to go. You can’t compare me with someone who has done 30 films already (laughs). I know for a fact that I’ll work doubly hard to improve with each film. No actor will be content with what he does and the idea is to always improve with each film. And I hope the audiences too see the difference in my next set of films," Sai Sreenivas signs off.
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