Adivi Sesh has been waiting for Major to hit screens. The film was initially scheduled to release in July 2021, but got delayed several times due to Covid-19 pandemic. However, the actor says this gave him and the movie’s team some time to reflect, an alien concept in the Telugu film industry.

Sesh, who has starred in several Telugu films, is making his Hindi film debut with Major. The actor feels that the success of Baahubali, RRR and KGF suggests it is time to let go off the fear that didn’t allow actors to venture out with a film beyond regional boundaries.

Excerpts from the interview:

Very content because in Telugu cinema what happens is that it is a race to get hard drives to the US on time. We never have a chance to reflect.

Whereas in Hindi cinema, I have noticed that nobody wants to show the film beforehand, because they are worried about reviews, anti-camps and such things. They are like ‘Fridya morning jo hoga, woh dekha jaayega’. With Major, we have none of that happening. The film is ready. We have shown it to hundreds of people in so many cities. My best surprise of the promotional campaign was at a secret screening where a group of twenty teary-eyed guys screamed, ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’, as soon as the film ended. They were also hugging each other. It felt like the film watching experience was only for them rather than anyone else, and that meant a lot to me.

Q. How difficult is it to tell a story of a hero, whose story is still fresh in people’s minds?

Actually our experience has been the polar opposite because so many people know about his courage in his last 36 hours. So many people know the hundreds of people he saved, so many people know the Ashoka Chakra he got. But people don’t know the beautiful 31 years that enabled his final 36 hours. How were these 31 years? You show the photograph of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to anyone in Mumbai and they’d be like ‘arre inhone Mumbai ko bachaayaa’ (He saved Mumbai). But if you ask them how he must have been like, they would think he was kadak (strong), stern. But the truth is that he was a man who loved to laugh. Major Sandeep’s mom once told me that that when I smile in interviews, I need to smile more. When I asked her why, she said, ‘Because my son doesn’t smile so reserved’. In fact, there is a funny story behind that famous photograph where his eyes are so clear and he has a small smile on his face. When he first took the picture, he was smiling so bright and wide that the photographer told him that he is not supposed to smile for a passport picture. So in the second picture, he stopped himself from smiling, and that is Major Sandeep for you. So, this film is full of life. He is like sunlight.

Q. Can we safely call Major a pan-India movie?

No. It is an all Indian film. I believe the word pan-India has been somewhat abused. It sounded good in the beginning as it felt like we are catering to Indians across the country. But then it started sounding a bit like an euphemism for a dubbed film. On the contrary I believe, in my heart, that a film like Uri: The Surgical Strike is a pan-India film because we loved it in Hyderabad, Kashmir, Mumbai and so on. At the end of the day, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was born in Kerala and grew up in Bangalore. He was a captain in Hyderabad cantonment and a training officer in Haryana. He also fought in Kargil. And he saved hundreds in Mumbai. If that’s not all Indian, then I don’t know what is.