Film after film, Salman Khan ropes in the mightiest men from B-Town to play antagonists in Dabangg, only to beat them to pulp in the climax. Taking over the baton from previous baddies Sonu Sood and Prakash Raj, Kannada superstar Kichcha Sudeepa says acquiring a physical stature that can hold merit before that of Khan on camera is as toilsome as the process of getting beaten by him.
“I trained hard. Salman has [a good physique] to show, but I didn’t. Luckily, since I played a wrestler in Pailwaan, I had some definition. But, I didn’t have the required bulk needed for the film,” says Sudeepa, who took to skipping and cycling to whip himself into shape. The 26-day shooting schedule for the climax scene was held on sets constructed in Dahisar, and involved brutal and hard-hitting fights, including hand-to-hand combat scenes. “At times, the set was cold, and then we’d be burning cars, so it would be hot again. There was also a lot of dust, and I’d get suffocated with it when I had to fall, because I was the one getting beaten up in the scene. I also developed chest congestion,” says the actor, glad that their effort has paid off. “Salman showed me the climax scene on Saturday. It looks awesome; the fight appears brutal.”
As is the case with every fine artiste, Sudeepa was able to draw parallels between Khan’s on and off-screen personas. For him, his ability to deliver his act successfully came from the realisation that he wasn’t dealing with Chulbul Pandey, but in fact, Khan himself. To play Balli, he says he simply, “copied Salman”.
“Whenever a villain has ‘performed’ too much in front of Salman, he has failed, because, you need not act too much before him. A viewer buys a ticket for Dabangg to see Salman Khan. Salman’s character Chulbul [comes second]. So, you need to deal with Salman’s attitude, and swag, and give him a taste of his own medicine. Salman has a certain aura, and if you want to deal with that on screen, you have to become as big as he is. He’s a tiger, so the villain has to be an elephant. That’s why he came up with the line: ‘Jab villain bada ho, toh peetne me mazaa aur zyada aata hai.’ It takes a lot to tackle Salman when he’s in front of you, and looking at you. Since I noticed him so much, I’d say Balli is a mix of Salman and my personalities.”