MILPITAS, Calif. — The trailer of the highly anticipated Telugu film, “Sammohanam,” was released in India May 30 by superstar Krishna, creating much buzz. And that enthusiasm spilled over to the U.S. after Tollywood fans in the San Francisco Bay Area spotted the film’s lead actor, Sudheer Babu, amidst them the same day.
The Telugu star not only released the trailer at Serra Theatres here but also interacted with his Indian American fans.
“U.S. has become one of the biggest markets for the Telugu film industry, as big as both the Telugu states’ box office,” Babu told India-West. “A film like ‘Sammohanam,’ which is a new age cinema, it’s a new age love story and over here in the U.S., it’s not just about the big star. It’s about good content, which ‘Sammohanam’ has, so we decided to start the promotions from here.”
Babu, who is on a promotional tour across the U.S. for his film, which releases June 15, also made another pit stop at Royal Palace Banquet Hall in Fremont, Calif.
“Meeting fellow Telugu people in another country is really exciting,” he said. “The only entertainment apart from their work is Telugu films over here, whereas in India, you have many options.”
The breezy romantic entertainer also marks the Tollywood debut of “Padmavaat” actress Aditi Rao Hydari. It is written-directed by Mohana Krishna Indraganti.
“It’s not just the story, but the way he (Indraganti) has written the dialogues, too. Even though it’s a film, its not filmy. You’ll have a life-like experience watching the film. It’s a character I’ve never played before,” Babu noted. “People used to think I can do a lot of action stunts, but this film shows a new side of me. Indraganti Mohana Krishna is one of the most successful directors and working with him I felt would work out better for my career.”
The romantic drama features Hydari as Sameera, a North Indian actor looking to establish herself in the Telugu industry; and Babu as Sudheer, a cartoonist who detests the film world because he believes it’s fake.
“Aditi is a fantastic actress,” Babu told India-West. “When you know that your co-star is a very good actor, you always come prepared, otherwise you’ll look flat before them. She’s got a unique style of performing scenes. She’s not a regular kind of actress. When all the actors perform well, that’s when a scene turns out good.”
The film also features Rahul Ramakrishna, Tanikella Bharani, Shishir Sharma and Pavithra Lokesh, among others.
Babu, a bona fide action star, told India-West that though he obviously leans towards action films, covering all genres is essential for a “versatile actor.”
“It’ll also be boring for me to do action scenes every time,” he remarked. “When I’m going to a shoot, I should be scared of how I’m going to do a scene today. And that motivates me more. I feel more determined and I work more before going to the set. With action scenes, I’m slightly confident because I know I’ve prepared well over the years to do these stunts. Doing other roles is more challenging for me.”
The actor, who ventured into Bollywood in 2016 appearing as the main antagonist in the Tiger Shroff starrer “Baaghi,” has been cast in a bilingual biopic on India’s ace badminton star Pullela Gopichand.
He said he did receive interesting offers in Bollywood after “Baaghi,” but wanted to direct his creative energy into the sports biopic that will be released in Hindi and Telugu.
“I thought doing that project would be ideal after ‘Baaghi,” Babu, also a trained badminton player, said. “This film needs a lot of preparation. I feel I’m very fortunate to be doing that role. I’ve travelled with him. Before doing a biopic, you need to know him as a person, which will help while portraying the role or else it’ll become more of a mimicry. Just picking up the body language, etc., won’t help. You need to understand him as a person.
“Whatever I am today as an actor is because I’ve played badminton at some point in my life so that’s helping me as an actor,” added Babu, who was once Gopichand’s doubles partner, and training partner.
The 39-year-old actor, who recently launched his own production house, told India-West that he is looking to back “content-based films.”
“Story is the hero for me, always,” he said. “Even in my films, I always look out for the story and so I’d be willing to try anything new and fresh.”
He added that work on one film is almost complete under the banner of his production company.
“We’ve already done 80 percent of the shoot for a film,” Babu told India-West. “I’m not publicizing about it because right now it’s about ‘Sammohanam,’ and I don’t want to confuse people. Once this film releases, I’ll start promoting the other film.”