He denies rumours about him walking out of the Telugu remake of 3 Idiots on the grounds that it was populated with Tamil actors. “I couldn’t do the film because my dates got stuck with Dhookudu. It is an iconic film, so I really regret missing out on it,” he says, adding, “I am generally against doing remakes but I broke the rule just to work with director Shankar… but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen.” Mahesh Babu was rather relaxed as he waited to shoot an action sequence in a factory for his upcoming film, Dhookudu. “It’s an out-and-out action flick,” he says.
Mahesh Babu says he’s enjoying doing an action film with director Srinu Vytla, who is known for fun-centric movies but has proved himself equally “adept in the action films genre”. The teaser trailer of Dhookudu, released on the birthday of dad Krishna, the legendary actor, shows evidence of that enjoyment. And the release date for the trailer was apt, he says. “We wanted to bring cheer to the fans and because my father has influenced me a lot.”
As with 3 Idiots, Mahesh Babu is regretful about missing out on the opportunity to work with ace film-maker Mani Ratnam in a Tamil-Telugu period saga. “Mani sir told me that he has shelved the project for now, so I missed the chance to work with the director par excellence. I couldn’t do even his earlier film Guru, since I was tied up with Sainikuudu at the time,” he says. While the legendary Krishna didn’t mind sharing screen space with arch-rival superstar NTR, Mahesh is yet to break the ice. “I could do a multi-starrer soon, if we come across the right script,” he says, however Mahesh Babu claims that Gen X stars are generally more open to working with one another. “Soon multi-starrers could be the norm rather than the exception in T-town,” he says, adding that, unlike their B-town counterparts, T-town superstars acknowledge the “rivalry” but never indulge in mudslinging. “Probably, we are wise enough to realise that everybody has his own space and we don’t need to waste time taking potshots.”
Mahesh Babu expounds on this further, reasoning, “Rather than envy, I would be glad if Ram Charan’s film is a blockbuster since hits generate money to make the industry happening and vibrant.” A hot contender for the numero uno slot, Mahesh Babu doesn’t believe in the numbers games. “I never craved for such slots since I always kept competing with myself and trying to raise the bar on my performances,” he says.
Asked about his last two films, which flopped without fan support, he says, “Maybe we couldn’t live up to their high expectations. Satisfying fans is a very difficult task but I am trying to find a middle ground by doing films that would impress fans as well as offer some novelty, almost like a twin-edged sword.” More than the big money, Mahesh Babu is endorsing varied brands just to be in touch with his fans and viewers. “It’s a new challenge for me and, while the money is good, I think of it as an opportunity to get closer to fans,” he says.
His closeness to his fans is perhaps one reason why he hasn’t seriously pursued his B-town dreams. “I am comfortably placed in my zone,” he says. The workaholic restricted his summer holiday to “a week in Switzerland. I spent some time with my son Gautham and we had a good time.” The star is a “homebird” and dislikes going to parties. “I love to spend quality time with my family. I also enjoy watching movies and reading books,” he says.