EXCLUSIVE: I have made many mistakes in the past, says ‘Harom Hara’ actor Sudheer Babu

His latest outing, directed by Gnanasagar Dwaraka, is a commercial entertainer set in the 80s, which he calls a box office-friendly film.

BySrivathsan Nadadhur

Published Jun 14, 2024 | 12:29 PM Updated Jun 14, 2024 | 12:29 PM

Harom Hara actor Sudheer Babu

From Prema Katha Chitram (2013) to Bhale Manchi Roju (2015) to Sammohanam (2018), and Nannu Dochukunduvate (2018), there’s little doubt about Sudheer Babu’s creative instincts, though commercial success has eluded him considerably.

For a change, his 14 June release—Harom Hara appears to be a safe bet at the ticket window.

The Gnanasagar Dwaraka directorial has all the makings of a paisa vasool action fare, set in the 80s, mounted by a young crew with technical finesse and catchy music.

In a chat with South First, Sudheer Babu gives a lowdown on being part of Harom Hara, which he defines as a box office-friendly film.

Q. It’s hard to believe that someone who made Sehari (2022) could be entrusted with something as mass-y as Harom Hara. How did the collaboration materialise?

Harom Hara is an action thriller

Malvika Sharma and Sudheer Babu in a still from ‘Harom Hara’. (Supplied)

A. I didn’t watch Sehari when Gnanasagar Dwaraka came for a narration. I presumed he had a love story in mind.

I was pleasantly surprised when he came up with a full-blown action drama. He’s much similar to the characters in Harom Hara—mass-y, rooted sans anxiety. For him to pull off an urban romance written by someone else was quite an impressive feat.

The most important attribute of a director is to visualise what’s written on paper. The world-building was easier in Harom Hara because the director belonged to Kuppam. I liked the script.

Whenever I get a good story, I say yes and figure out the director’s strengths and weaknesses through the process and the team he works with. It may take weeks or months, but it’s a calculated risk.

Q. From the rustic slang to gunsmiths to gang wars and the visual aesthetic, how did you go about filming Harom Hara?

A. Getting the slang right was an integral part of the world-building. In many mainstream films, storytellers take liberties with the costumes, dialogues, and ambience. While Harom Hara is a commercial film, it’ll still genuinely transport you into a new world.

Sunil plays a suspended cop Palani, he has a full-length supporting character. On a metaphorical level, Lord Subramhanya is believed to reside on the Palani hill. He’s the protagonist’s support system. It’s one of his meatier roles in recent times.

However, we couldn’t shoot any scene in Kuppam because the place has changed with time. We filmed in places that resembled the region in the 80sMangalore, Udupi, Rajahmundry, and parts of Hyderabad.

This is a story that could work with a new face as well, the heroism is character-specific and not because of a star. A James Bond-ish character in a rustic setting made for a unique backdrop.

Also Read: Nivin Pauly’s ‘Malayalee From India’ gets OTT release window

Q. Why the 80s setting over a modern-day backdrop?

A. When Gnanasagar wrote the story, he was inspired by incidents and personalities he had witnessed and wanted to recreate that world on the screen. If you place the story in a modern-day setting where everyone can access YouTube and information, the characterisation/plot will likely lose its essence.

The film’s protagonist is wired differently from the common man. He’s a lab assistant who discovers the knack for making guns and has rare qualities that make him stand out among his dealers.

Such a part is bound to work better in the 80s. We aimed to offer an authentic peek into the making of a gun, though we had to restrict ourselves beyond a point to play safe with censors.

Q. And finally, it’s a film where you haven’t flaunted your toned body.

Sudheer Babu in a still from Harom Hara

Sudheer Babu in a still from ‘Harom Hara’. (Instagram)

A. Right before the shoot, the team and I were clear that it isn’t a film where you show off your six-pack abs.

When do you generally show a ripped, toned body in a film? It is to convince that he has all the strength to give a handful to the baddies.

We felt the character’s strength had to reflect through his personality and not look alone.

However, there’s a perception that Sudheer Babu is a fit actor and looks a certain way, all I try is to live up to that image with every film. I stay true to my character without losing sight of my strengths.

Q. Is Harom Hara more relevant today because of the prevalent gun culture across the globe?

A. The film doesn’t take on the gun culture, but there are phases in his journey where he faces a moral dilemma and thinks twice about his path. Harom Hara is a commercial entertainer at the end of the day, though it isn’t without its thought-provoking moments.

Also Read: ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ trailer is merely the tip of the iceberg, says Nag Ashwin

Q. The title and the promos hint at a probable mythological angle too…

A. There’s a definite mythological layer in the story, the hero solves a problem in the village and he’s viewed as a beacon of hope (by the masses). There are many motifs in the story that can be either termed divine intervention or coincidence. It’s a region where many worship Lord Subramanya, hence we named the protagonist after him.

Q. Do you have a sequel in mind too?

A. There’s potential for a sequel; we have a few plots in mind as well, but there’s no formal announcement yet.

The demand has to come from the audience and based on the response, we’ll decide the scale. We wanted to wait for the film to hit screens and as of now, it’s only a Telugu release.

Q. What explains your confidence in the film?

A. I have made many mistakes in the past but none of them repeated with Harom Hara. For instance, Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali (2022) worked better with OTT viewers than theatre crowds.

Harom Hara is a proper big-screen experience. It has the potential to find its place among the top 5 action films in Telugu. Come with huge expectations and the film will still leave you with a high. Besides hardcore action, there’s substantial emotion that’ll appeal to varied audiences.

During the film production, every step had a surprise in storebe it edits or the background score. There was a magic in the process you can’t put a finger on.

For most of my projects, I think of a department that could’ve done a better job. Here, I didn’t have any reason to complain. It’s a technically brilliant film.

Q. You spent a major part of your life as an outsider behind the screen, be it your badminton stint or the brief tryst with film distribution. As someone who’s completed over a decade as an actor, how has your view on cinema changed?

A. When I wasn’t in the industry (as a badminton player and a distributor), I enjoyed films as a layman and didn’t intellectualise them too much. I didn’t have strong opinions on cinema. I enjoyed commercial and parallel cinema equally.

As an actor, I want to make a difference through the films I’ve been choosing. More than commercial appeal, I’ve always preferred a strong story. I have gained a better insight into the process only recently.

Harom Hara review: Sudheer Babu’s action drama is all style and little substance

Q. In a recent interview, you claimed that the producer, director, and actor need to be on the same page at all stages of filmmaking for a product to succeed. How do place your faith in a team and say yes?

Sudheer Babu says he never had strong opinions on cinema

Sudheer Babu says he never had strong opinions on cinema. (Instagram)

A. There’s no specific strategy in place, but I trust my instincts during the one-on-one conversations. There are a few producers who just want to put their money into a project.

I prefer those who take an active interest in story discussions and creative aspects, too. A few don’t go beyond the planned budget even if the story demands it.

When someone has a holistic idea of the story, they’ll have a better idea of the budgeting and make better decisions. A producer also needs to be passionate about the process, ready for discussion, and have an eye for marketing. It’s no longer enough to have good word of mouth on day one and rely on it for collections.

Trends and tastes have changed, there are more films in the market and you need to be noticed. For instance, if the pre-release business doesn’t happen as per plan, he must be able to release the film without any hassles.

Q. Over the 12 years, have you found a way to bounce back from failure?

A. You need a different motivation every time to rise above failure. Sometimes, you want to channel it into future projects, another occasion, you make peace with yourself that you did your bit as a performer and got noticed.

In front of family and kids too, you need to put up a brave face and move on. The best way is to stop overthinking, get out, pack your bags, travel, or spend time with friends.

Also Read: ‘Ban Maharaj Film’ and ‘Boycott Netflix’ trend ahead of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid debut