Sonu Sood insists that Rajinikanth is doing well and their period epic, Rana, has only been delayed by a month, following the superstar’s sudden illness. “We were supposed to start in July, now we will roll in August,” he says. The actor’s on a high after Big R told him that as soon as he heard the script, he knew only Sonu, who he’d loved in Dabangg (2010), Jodhaa-Akbar (2008) and the Tamil blockbuster Arundhati, could play this role. “At the party, he had his arm around me all evening and I was wondering, ‘Is this for real?’ I’ve learnt from him that it’s not your good work, but your goodness that takes you to heights,” says an awed Sonu. He’s looking forward to some amazing action in the Hindi-Tamil-Telugu trilingual that’s being touted as Indian cinema’s most expensive film ever. In 15 years, Sonu’s built a collection of over 3,000 films in the genre and uses some as references. “We haven’t discussed the action in Rana yet, but for Bbuddah, I convinced Vijay Master (action director) to replicate a chase sequence in the Thai movie Ong-Bak (2003). It would require me to navigate multiple hurdles, including cars, buses and auto rickshaws, as I sprint down the street,” recalls Sonu. He admits that when the fight master tried the same scene, it had gone wrong, leaving him apprehensive about the risk involved. “But I carried it off in a single take and without cables. The whole of Versova was watching me and spontaneously started clapping,” he adds.
Bbuddah promises to bring back the action hero of the swinging ’70s and Sonu says Amitabh Bachchan fans won’t be disappointed: “His famous lines that we grew up on went missing from our films. But Bbuddah will bring them back.” The film’s ‘recap’ promotional campaign using dialogue from Bachchan blockbusters including Deewar (’75), Shahenshah (’88) and Agneepath (’90), has caught the eye. Main aaj bhi phekhe hue paise nahin uthata’(Even today, I don’t pick up money thrown at me) from Deewar is one of Sonu’s favourites. And his first scene with Big B brought back memories of Zanjeer (’73).
“In Zanjeer, he was Vijay, pushing Sher Singh (Pran) out of his police station. In Bbuddah, I’m the cop pushing him out. Zanjeer, Deewar and Trishul (’78) were my Bible (sic) and I’ve grown up idolising their hero. It must be my parents’ blessing that a small-town guy from nowhere is today working with legends like Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachchan,” he says.
Early next year, Dabangg 2 will roll. Says Sonu, “It’s such a thrill that Dabanng has bagged a National Award. I can’t wait to play Cheddi Singh’s more aggressive twin. He doesn’t have a name yet. How about Safedi Singh? He can be dressed in all white.”