At 26, B. Shekhar Babu was the first Indian to climb Mt Everest solo. In recognition of his achievements, he was awarded the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 2009. Since then, he has spearheaded numerous expeditions, including the one where Malavath Purna went on to become the youngest girl to climb Mt Everest.
But a call from a friend in 2013 was something he had never foreseen — a chance to train the cast and crew of Baahubali. “I met S.S. Rajamouli and Shobu Yarlagadda. They were looking for a training session where actors could be taught the basics of mountain climbing, body language, the right postures and positions that were required as part of the characters in the movie,” says 33-year-old Shekhar.
What followed was a six-day session that was attended by not just Prabhas but even Rajamouli, his son Karthikeya, Shobu and assistant director Prateek. Scenes of the crew learning rock climbing were featured in ‘The characters of Baahubali brought to life’ video, which was released online two days ago and already has more than 19 lakh hits.
The group would turn up punctually at 4.30 am and practice till 7.30 am in the outskirts of the city. “For the first two days, we couldn’t find any climbing shoes for Prabhas; the size was unavailable in the country. But then Shobu arranged for them to be brought from abroad. For the movie though he doesn’t wear any climbing shoes since it’s a period film,” says Shekhar, who was also impressed by Rajamouli who was willing to try the techniques before the actor. “Nobody from the crew was afraid of heights and everybody was a quick learner.”
Shekhar has an illustrious career. “I hold the record in the country for climbing three death zone peaks, which are usually taller than 26,000 feet, within four months. I have also co-founded the first rock climbing school in Bhongir”....