Telugu superstar Adivi Sesh who plays 26/11 martyr Sandeep Unnikrishnan in the film Major has flown down to Mumbai from Hyderabad to get together with Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s parents, K Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi Unnikrishnan To pay a tribute at the Taj where the 2008 terror attack had occurred.

Speaking to me from the Hyderabad airport Sesh said, “We decided to pay a tribute to the person, who is the reason for this entire dream project Major to exist. I will have a conversation with Uncle and Aunty, that’s how I address his parents, on the scars and wounds of 26/11 that will never heal. It is the producers’ idea that we gather together at the Taj in Mumbai as remembrance of stings past. I was visiting Aunty and Uncle in Bangalore to take their blessings, when they came up with this idea.”

Adivi went into a strict military-like regimen to play the part. “I had to look extremely fit and slim. I lost ten kgs in three months before we started shooting for Major.A strict diet plan was worked out,and I followed it faithfully.”

Adivi sees playing the Ashoka Chakra winner as a huge responsibility. “It is my first real-life character.And to be playing a man so heroic courageous and iconic is to me, the greatest privilege an actor can get. I gave this role all the love and respect it deserves.”

Major is a major departure for Adivi from all the characters he has played so far. “After my last release Evaru I wanted to do something in a different genre. I’ve done the suspense genre twice in Kshanam and Evaru in the last three years. I grew up wanting to play a soldier. Now I’ve finally done it.”

Speaking on how his dream role materialized Sesh says, “You may find this hard to believe, but I had been dreaming of playing Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan for 11 years. Even through my stay in San Francisco, I was completely taken up by his grit. I felt like he was my brother.So playing him on screen is just a logical culmination of my dream.When Mahesh Babu, who is a co-producer on this project, and his wife, Namrata Shirodkar, approached me with this offer it felt unreal. How could I be offered a chance to play a character that I have only dreamt of playing for so many years?!”

Does being a South Indian make it easier for Sesh to play Unnikrishnan? “Well, I can’t deny that it does heighten the sense of kinship. But I’d be just as happy and comfortable playing a war hero from Punjab. I think playing a hero of this stature goes beyond cultural boundaries. After all, even Ben Kingsley did not have to be Gujarati to play Mahatma Gandhi.”

A world of research has gone into playing the part. “I have been interacting with Unnikrishnan’s parents for quite some time now. I am very close to Uncle and Aunty, but I prefer to avoid dwelling on my relationship with them as it might seem like an attempt to attract attention to our film. However, now that I have known them for quite some time, our relationship has surpassed the filmy motives. Uncle and Aunty have enriched my life. I would’ve been poorer had I not known them.”

Major is produced by Mahesh Babu.And Adivi can’t stop feeling privileged. “I’ve always been a big fan of Mahesh Babu and to now have him produce a film where I play this distinguished soldier is like a dream come true. The best thing about being an actor is that you get to play out all your fantasies.”