Wasn’t sure whether SS Rajamouli would approve my voice for ‘Baahubali’: Sharad Kelkar

PTI, May 15, 2024, 5:42 PM IST

Sharad Kelkar (Source: Sharad Kelkar/Instagram)

Mumbai: Actor Sharad Kelkar, who lent his voice to Telugu star Prabhas in the Hindi dubbed version of the popular “Baahubali” films, says he was initially unsure whether filmmaker SS Rajamouli would approve of him for the role.

In “Baahubali: The Beginning” (2015) and “Baahubali: The Conclusion” (2017), the 47-year-old actor voiced the double roles of Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali (Shivudu), played on screen by Prabhas.

Kelkar said he was working on the 2016 Telugu-language action comedy “Sardaar Gabbar Singh”, fronted by Pawan Kalyan, when a crew member recommended his name to Rajamouli.

Up north, his acting credits include films such as “Ram-Leela”, “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior” and Prime Video series “The Family Man”.

“I was not sure whether he would approve it (voice) or not, it (approval) came as a pleasant surprise. Somebody suggested that in Pawan Kalyan’s film there’s a villain who has a good voice, ‘Please test him’. So, he (Rajamouli) asked, ‘Does he speak Hindi?’ and they said, ‘He is from Gwalior and he is good at Hindi’,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

Soon, the makers of “Baahubali” called him for a voice test.

“I had no idea about ‘Baahubali’ but I had seen ‘Magadheera’ and ‘Makkhi’ (‘Eega’),” said Kelkar, referring to Rajamouli’s previous films.

“As an actor, I wanted to meet the creator of this masterpiece. So, I gave my voice test, took the tape and met him (Rajamouli) at the studio. Next day, he said, ‘You’re doing the dubbing for ‘Baahubali’,” he recalled.

Kelkar has now collaborated with Rajamouli on the upcoming animated series “Baahubali: Crown of Blood”, a prequel to the blockbuster movies.

According to the makers, the Disney+ Hotstar show promises to take the audiences into an animated world of “Baahubali” to experience an untold story of epic adventure, brotherhood, betrayal, conflict and heroism. Rajamouli and Sharad Devarajan of “The Legend of Hanuman” fame serve as series creators.

It was a nostalgic feeling, said Kelkar about reteaming with the “RRR” director, whom he credited for his popularity.

“That character is close to my heart. I got a huge fan base because of ‘Baahubali’. It was a new high in my career. People started calling me, ‘the voice of Baahubali, the voice of India’. It brought about many changes in those two-three years. Now that we are coming back with ‘Baahubali: Crown of Blood’, I am excited,” he said.

This time around, the actor said, the animation was created after he finished dubbing for the series in Hindi.

“It was tougher to understand what kind of visuals or scene it would have or how far the other character is from you. Or, how loud or sharp you can be. At that point, the creator and director come (for your help). It was a different process. But it was fun as well.”

Kelkar, who also lent his voice to Prabhas for his outing as Lord Ram in 2023’s “Adipurush”, also opened up about the on-screen depiction of the Hindu deity while dubbing for the modern retelling of Ramayana.

Directed by Om Raut, the film was panned on social media for its poor quality of VFX and colloquial dialogues.

“The subject is very sentimental. As a Hindu, I have read or heard it (Ramayana) so many times, so there were a few things which I felt I had not heard about or maybe it was a different version. So, it was odd for me. But it’s a film, it’s fiction, so we should watch it as a film.

“But it’s Lord Ram, if we have hurt anybody’s sentiments then we are sorry for that. But we should move on, and look forward to a bigger and honest product, which he (Raut) is going to make, and I’m 100 per cent sure about it,” the actor said.

A Graphic India and Arka Mediaworks production, “Baahubali: Crown of Blood” is produced by Rajamouli, Devarajan and Shobu Yarlagadda. It is directed by Jeevan J Kang and Navin John.

The animated series will start streaming on Disney+ Hotstar from May 17.

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