Pruthvi Shekar is just 24 years old and he is already making it big as a fight master in the Telugu film industry. Born and brought up in Hyderabad, he studied at the Richmonds High School, the Railway College and also at the Open University. His father is an employee in the Railways and would balance his work in the films as well as in the Railways. Y. Sunita Chowdhary of Klapboardpost.com has a small conversation with him. Ask Pruthvi for more info on his father Shekar, he says his father was always interested in films. He became a fight master and got a Nandi Award for Manasara. Earlier Raju Master bagged it and it was 15 years back.
Pruthvi worked as a fighter for seven years and then as an assistant for two years and now a year back, he has become a fight master. After taking the card as a fight master, he worked as an actor in Clue and is now composing fights for Chor Bazaar, Romantic, Liger, Gandharva, Mahasamudram and Kartikeya (single card). He says, “I worked in 26 films so far in 2 years as a fight master. My recent works were Taraka Ratna’s Devineni and Akshara.” I have been inspired by my father. I saw my father’s struggle, problems with the Union and the problems he surmounted in maintaining the family etc. He left films once and stayed put with Railways. He was obviously worried that if he quits Railways, he will lose the monthly income..so at one stage he had to quit films which is his passion but around that time I stepped in. He is happy that I took his place.”
His father is from Khammam and was very fond of martial arts and trained many people. In his locality, he would gather students and show them fights and stunts. An acquaintance from the Railways happened to notice his skill and when the Railways organised programmes, he was invited to perform and was asked to represent Railways. “My father got a job there and continued. Meanwhile he also met actor Balakrishna who helped him get a union card and then onwards composed fights for around 450 films. His nickname is Kungfu Shekar. I love and respect him a lot and want to continue his legacy,” he says.
Pruthvi Shekar never took his job for granted and before becoming a fight master, he put in a lot of effort and would sleep only 3 or 4 hours and spend a lot of time on research for the project. He has devoted all his time to it and enjoys the support of his family. They make sure he has no diversions and disturbances and goad him to focus on it. He shares, “I work out two hours daily and I need six hours of sleep. The rest of the time is for meetings and shoots. I have a place/studio near Durgam Cheruvu where we do rehearsals, i.e 6 to 8 hours every day as the film approaches.” He says all fights in films can’t be the same or look identical, it depends on the concept. He cites an example, “If a hero elopes with a heroine and ten guys stop him..it is a regular and a normal concept. If the hero is taking away the girl without getting hurt and injuring the rest is a different thing. Innovation in the action comes with a concept. The fight master gets to experiment, design because of a new idea given by the director. He has to do justice to the director’s vision. A song mixed with a fight in Alaa Vaikuntapuram Lo is a perfect example. We did some unique action scenes in Chor Bazaar and the director appreciated our composition.”
Pruthvi says he has a permanent team like every fight master has like composers, helpers, assistants. The fight master coordinates and explains. After that explanation takes place along with the composition. Small changes take place at the last minute too and we share ideas from the team, the thoughts. The fight master looks at everything and should cover the artiste, camera lens, background. He adds, “We see the fight scene in the edit. It is a team effort ultimately, however famous the fight master is.” Ask him why fight masters don’t insist on a body double for a hero as the latter constantly risks himself. Prudhvi explains, “Fighters are given some scenes and heroes are assigned some. What one does, other can’t do and there are tasks for each. It is indeed a risk and the artist does stunts and injures himself, they don’t want someone else to do it. They have no regrets even if they get injured, they are happy they accomplished the task and are sure the audience will appreciate it.”
Pruthvi took seven years to be a fighter master. The pandemic played spoilsport with just not his projects but everyone else as well. He says he has a zeal to be unique and excel. If a master from any film composes a fight and it becomes a hit, the pressure on him to give a hit builds. “We should do better than that, obviously,” he says. Usually rehearsals happen for 4 or 5 days i.e for big fights. Small compositions usually don’t exceed two days. All the fighters are insured and the Union takes care of them. Ask him if he goes easy when it comes to composing fights for a woman, he says recently Nandita Swetha proved him wrong. “For Akshara, a lady oriented film, I wondered if the heroine could pull it off and thought I should give her something light. She surprised me. On the sand, on the beach side, it is difficult to walk or run and also fight. She did it and showed. She was comfortable with all kinds of kicks.” Finally Pruthvi expresses his contentment that Telugu people are getting better opportunities from 2006 onwards. The rules have changed and masters from Chennai have settled in Hyderabad. This move has helped all the fighters because they get regular income (because they are working on the Telangana card). Earlier when the fight masters came here from Chennai, they would get a percentage of Chennai fighters and now that no longer happens.”