EXCLUSIVE: Adivi Sesh: I Have Always Been A Great Admirer Of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan
Adivi Sesh, the young multi-faceted talent of the Telugu film industry is all set to play real-life soldier and Ashoka Chakra winner Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in an upcoming film, which has been titled Major. The movie, which is bankrolled by superstar Mahesh Babu’s home banner G Mahesh Babu Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures and A+S Movies, is directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka.
In an exclusive interview with Filmibeat, leading man Adivi Sesh opened up about Major, his character Sandeep Unnikrishnan, and much more. Read on…
• What makes Major an important film of your career?
I suppose you are familiar with Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. He has been a very important figure in my life. I don’t know what makes this film a very special project in my career, but he is important to me. When I first saw his picture in 2008 across the Indian channels, when I was growing up in the US, he looked quite familiar to my older cousins. He looked like an older version of me.
And I was so surprised that somebody so young has passed. There began my obsession with him. I spend years and years cutting newspaper clippings and saving web pages, audios, and books about him. And I finally approached his parents, and here we are with their blessing.
• What are the other important factors that made you do this film?
I think, as artists we try to convey our love for something through our art. And I first started following him, obviously I was an admirer. It wasn’t from a film’s space; I was just some kid. I think as I became an artist, I started having a good acting career, it struck me that this hero that I was so fascinated by and obsessed with, is so important to me. How the people across India and world would know about him and what he did and who he was?
Only so much about Major Sandeep is known about the way he passed away. I don’t think many people know about the life he lived, which was in all honesty, ten times more extraordinary than the sacrifice he made. So, we wanted to make a film (I wrote the story) inspired by his life, about the way he lived, not about the way he died.
• How does it feel to play the lead role in Superstar Mahesh Babu’s
production venture? Was he a part of the making process?
I am honoured. I wouldn’t say Mahesh sir was a part of the making process, but we always had his blessings. I think a more hands-on producer on sets, on daily basis was Namrata Garu, his wife who is an amazing actress in her own right. I think what we managed to get was his blessings.
Every time we needed a location, every time we needed to speak with someone, every time we needed something for the film, it became ten times easier. And that is so beneficial, when you are trying to tell a real man’s story. So, the blessings he gave to the film made it very big.
• Did playing Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan on silver screen influence you as a person?
I think it did. Especially also because of the pandemic, I’ve happened to live with Major Sandeep as a person, as the character a lot longer. After I met his parents for the first time, the first promise I made to myself was his parents are my parents from now. That is what I perceived in my head and my heart.
And I wanted to be there for them, irrespective of whether this film would have been made or not. Even after the film releases and becomes a success, I want to be there for them. And I want them to be there for me. So, I think in many ways, his spirit has stayed with me. The idea of trying to find perfection, the idea of trying to do the right thing. Today, it is very convenient to shut up about something. But fighting for the right thing, I think that is something in me that is indirectly influenced by Major Sandeep’s thought process.
• How did you prepare to play Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in the film?
I am naturally left-handed, and I walked in a very different way from him. Whereas he has got this erect posture, and his legs slide out when he stands up. And he is right-handed, he holds his gun with his right hand. The way he talks, the tenor of his voice, had to work on that a lot. To sort of try and find him within myself.
• How did it feel to play a brave, patriotic real-life soldier in front of the camera? Tell us about the most memorable scene in the film…
I do. But my honest answer would be – Since we are still shooting for this film (around 30-40 percent of the film is still left to shoot). I will answer this question better after we finish the shoot. Because, maybe I will have a new favourite scene.
• How was it to work with the cast and crew of Major?
It is not a new team for me. We all (the director and the ADs) collaborated for the very successful film called Goodachari. We reunited for Major, so it is like a homecoming for all of us.
• You have written, acted, and directed. Which one is close to your heart?
I thing it is the acting. I don’t think I am a great director (laughs). But to be able to act and write, is sort of my true passion.
• After starring in successful films like Baahubali: The Beginning and
Kshanam, reports say you rejected around 50 scripts that offered the lead role. What’s the story behind it?
After Kshanam what happened was, suddenly we had this small film that exploded. It was being remade in Hindi, Tamil, and Kannada. I think people kept coming to me with similar scripts. I wanted to do something different. And that happened when we were on the way to make Goodachari, so I said no to a lot of these films.
• How does working post lockdown feels like?
It was a bit scary. You keep hearing all the headlines and you are shooting with a 150 people. Yes, we were all masked up and being as protected as we can. But as an actor, I’m not gonna be that protected. When I have blood and makeup on my face, I can’t keep my mask on and act in the scene.
It was funny, because when there were times where there are 145 people on sets, and a 143 are with masks and visors. But me and the co-actors in the scenes, we are only the ones who are completely exposed. But God’s grace, I haven’t got sick so far.