One would say that Baahubali: The conclusion put Tollywood on the world map, and such a larger-than-life project could only be achieved by the combined effort of thousands of people, pitching in with their own skills and artistic talent.
Even before the magnum opus released, a photo that created much hype was that of Prabhas and Anushka, wielding three arrows in their bows. The archery that was performed in the film took quite some training.
Hyderabad-based N. Arun Kumar, the first ever archer to represent South India in a World Championship, was behind the training of Anushka Shetty. “I have great respect for Anushka. I trained her for three days over a span of one week, and each day, we would train for six hours. I was surprised to see a novice pick the skill up so quickly. Our fingers get sore due to the strings. Still, she was unflinching and wanted to get the technique perfectly,” says Arun, who won medals in the Asian Grand Prix, European Grand Prix, and was a referee at the London Olympics.
Arun adds, “S.S. Rajamouli and I go back a long way. Back in 2000, when he used to work as an assistant director for ad films, he got in touch with me. The films had something related to archery, and I was his go to person. So, when Baahubali 2 was beginning, I was approached by the production house and I was told that I would have to train Anushka to do speed archery. Usually, we use extra gadgets to calculate measurements, and there is enough time for the archer to think, take their stance, aim, and then shoot. Here, it was different. The nock of the arrow, which fits into the string of the bow is usually too small. It would have been impossible to release so many arrows in quick succession. For that, we specially designed new nocks which had a wider opening, so it would be easier. It was definitely something to learn from for me too, and the shot where Anushka is fighting off enemies within her fort using this technique has come out very well.”
Arun now runs two training centres, in which he has had more than 3000 enthusiasts and 30 of them are national archers and medalists. It was his company that also provided the archery related equipment for the film. “We had a judo professor in school who incidentally was one of the few Archery coaches. I was inspired by him and never looked back. I could not achieve my goal of winning a medal in the World Championship due to a shoulder injury. I then took to business. I import archery equipment and opened my academies. I had the injury because of using wrong equipment, and I am trying my best to prevent that from happening to anyone else,” he concludes.