Mumbai: Telugu actor Sudheer Babu, who is making his Bollywood debut as the antagonist in Sajid Nadiadwala-produced "Baaghi", says it wasn't easy to compete with co-actor Tiger Shroff on so many levels.
"It was really important that I matched Tiger on all parameters and it wasn't easy. Given that Tiger has been trained in martial arts for a long time, I had to put in extra effort to be on par with him," Sudheer told IANS, and added that he underwent training in various forms of martial arts, including Kalaripayattu, to play his part.
Recalling how he landed the project, Sudheer, who has already completed shooting for two schedules of the project, said: "It was a show reel featuring stunts from my first film that caught the attention of producer Sajid.
"They were on the lookout for an actor who could match up Tiger in terms of physique, action and overall energy. When they saw my video, they realised that I would fit the bill."
But considering that Sudheer is popular for his work in Telugu films such as "Siva Manasulo Sruthi", "Prema Katha Chithram" and "Aadu Magaadra Bujji", didn't he mind playing the antagonist in a new industry?
"I'm aware of my popularity in Telugu cinema and I'm getting plenty of offers to choose from. But 'Baaghi' was a project I couldn't say no to. Though I've done some good roles in Telugu films, but never have I done an interesting character with such shades," he said.
"I never got the opportunity to stretch beyond my capability but this character gave me the freedom go the distance with my performance," he added.
Sudheer also believes most lead actors nowadays are open to the idea of playing a baddie.
"Several yesteryear actors started off their careers by playing villains and slowly went on to become heroes. The current generation of actors, though, are not very particular about playing the hero or villain. That's why some of them even play a hero with negative shades," he said.
Sudheer is pitted against Tiger in the film, which is rumoured to be the remake of Telugu blockbuster "Varsham". His role is said to be extremely challenging and yet, he chose to work in the film.
"As an actor, I've always wanted to do good roles. It didn't matter to me whether I was playing the protagonist or antagonist. What really always concerned me was whether my role had enough scope to perform and expand my horizons," he said.
Talking about the experience of working in a new industry, he said: "The preparation for the roles is similar because depending on the role, one works on the body language and style irrespective of the language."
"What I found new was the experience of shooting in Hindi. I know the language really well and have no problem conversing in it. Yet, the experience does seem different because I am so used to a working atmosphere where Telugu is being spoken all around," he said.
Directed by Sabbir Khan, the film also features Shraddha Kapoor.