Actor Nikhil Siddhartha, who plays an NRI in forthcoming Telugu crime-thriller “Shankarabharanam”, says he spent over a month in New York to be able to sink his teeth into the character.
“I wanted to observe NRIs from close quarters, so I stayed in New York for 45 days before we started shooting. It helped me in the preparation for my role and getting all the nuances of the character right,” Nikhil told IANS.
In the film, he plays a rich American-born confused desi, who has seen India only on a map. It’s an adaptation of Subhash Kapoor-directed “Phas Gaye Re Obama”.
“We’ve retained the core theme, but have weaved a different story around it,” he said, adding writer Kona Venkat, who acquired the remake rights, has brought in a very different perspective to the story.
“Since Kona sir is a writer, he ensured that our film isn’t a frame-to-frame remake. While the original is funny, our film is funnier. He reinvented comedy and avoided using the brand of humour he’s known for,” said Nikhil, who found striking a balance between foreign and Indian accent extremely challenging.
“As an NRI character, I wanted to be sure how much of English and Telugu I was allowed to speak. Usually I finish dubbing for my film in three or four days but this time I spent 15 days. So, you can imagine all the effort that has gone in to get the accent right,” he said.
Directed by Uday Nandavanam, the film has been shot against the backdrop of crime in Bihar.
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Recalling the shooting experience, Nikhil said: “We were told it was extremely risky to shoot in Bihar, hence we shot in Madhya Pradesh and near Maharashtra border. We travelled 150 km each day from our hotel to shoot.”
“It was so much fun but equally tiring,” he reminisced.
In the film, Nikhil is paired with Nandita. He says she helped him perform better.
“Since she knew the language, she didn’t need to be prompted with her lines. This really enabled both of us to perform better,” he said, adding that she plays a Bihari in the film.
“Nandita will be seen in a completely de-glam avatar. The team has worked really hard to get every minute detail about Bihari culture to perfection – right from the architecture to even the clothes Nandita wears,” he added.
The film has borrowed its title from a yesteryear blockbuster of the same name. While there’s no special reason behind opting for the same title, Nikhil says they’ve done total justice to it.
“The reason was very simple. We wanted a title with great recall value and since Kona sir’s last film was titled after Mani Ratnam’s ‘Geethanjali’, he decided to use the title ‘Shankarabharanam’ this time. The title is justified in the opening scene,” he said.
The team even sought the permission of veteran filmmaker K.V. Vishwanath to use the title of his film.
The movie releases worldwide on Friday (November 4).