Shriya Sharan recalls what happened on the day when she had to shoot Namaami Namaami for Kabzaa. (Photo: Instagram)

Shriya Sharan’s classical number, Namaami Namaami marks her introduction in Kabzaa and emphasises how her character worships Nataraj.

Upendra Rao, Kiccha Sudeepa and Shriya Saran starrer multilingual film Kabzaa hit the theatres yesterday (March 17). The underworld saga is set between 1942 and 1986 and traces the journey of an air force pilot who becomes the kingpin of the mafia world. While the film, largely, is the story of Arakeshwar, played by Rao, Saran, according to the makers, form the heart of the narrative. She plays Madhumati, the daughter of an aristocrat and Arakeshwar’s love interest.

Her screen time might be limited in the film but what has caught everyone’s attention is her classical number, Namaami Namaami. The song marks her introduction in the film and emphasises how her character worships Nataraj. She looks regal and performs Kathak in the dance sequence, which has been choreographed by the National Award winning choreographer, Chinni Prakash.

In an exclusive chat with News18, Saran shares her experience of collaborating with Prakash, who has choreographed the likes of actors Akshay Kumar and Govinda, and has been a part of popular films like Khiladi (1992), Mohra (1994), Coolie No 1 (1995), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998), Karan Arjun (1995) and Gupt (1997), among many others. “It was really nice working with him. I was working on another film with him for a song and then we started talking. He’s a really interesting man in terms of the work he has done and the stories he has to tell. This was the first time he was doing a classical song and so, he was very excited. And since this was a classical song I was doing after such a long time, I was equally excited,” she tells us.

The 40-year-old reveals that they only had ‘two hours to rehearse and get going’. And though she was unwell, she gave it her all. “The sets were massive. I had the worst sinus attack ever. I wasn’t well at all. I remember wearing the outfit made by Sitara and with my make-up and hair done, I went to the set. The moment I entered the set and they played the song, I felt like I belonged.” Crediting Prakash for helping her through the shoot of the song sequence, she adds, “I felt like magic happened and I went, ‘Wow! I’m so grateful to be here.’ Chinni Prakash sir gives his heart and soul to whatever he does and he clearly has given a piece of his heart to the song.”

What also helped her was being a Kathak dancer in real life. Talking about it, Saran says, “I’m a trained Kathak dancer. I was very excited to be in this film because my character is a Kathak dancer. I told myself, ‘Wow, yay!’ (laughs). I learnt it from Shovana Narayan in Delhi and now, I’m learning it from Nutan Patwardhan ji.”

Being a gangster film, Kabzaa is replete with high-octane action sequences. The RRR and Drishyam 2 (both 2022) actor believes the film completely belongs to Rao and states, “Upendra sir has spent 60 days with the fight master. He kept doing it again and again till he got that right shot. It’s not easy what he has done. Kabzaa is a team effort but it’s Upendra sir’s movie primarily and his transformation from the beginning till the end. What he has done in the film is out-of-the-world and fantastic.” Appreciating his humility, she continues, “He’s a very real actor, simple and down to earth. He can’t accept praise. If you appreciate him, he gets very comfortable.”

Saran also lauds director R Chandru and avers that she became a part of Kabzaa because of his ‘vision and idea’. She elaborates, “Chandru sir was trying to create something that’s larger-than-life. I saw the show reel and heard the script and fell in love with it. And since I was emotionally, mentally and physically on the set of a film set in a different era, I got transported to another world.”

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