Monday, October 3, 2011

Break That Joke: Prithvi Opens His Mind

Love him or hate him, but you simply cannot ignore him. Controversies, on and off the screen, keep dogging his steps. But as you sit listening to Prithviraj at the sets of his latest 'Indian Rupee', you realise how undeterred he remains. In fact, he doesn't seem to care a fig. Prithvi is essentially the same person he always is, bold and daring.

Whom should malayalis like - Prithvi the actor or Prithvi the star?

I still don't consider myself a star. Actually, I feel that our film industry should get rid of this very concept of stardom. It's high time we stopped this trend of evolving projects based on any particular actor. Stardom is not a title that an actor should strive for. Instead, it is something that gets conferred on an actor when his films gain sufficient popularity among the audience.

However, I believe that I have been accepted well as an actor. If not, how would I sustain in the industry for the past eleven years? If I had not established myself as an actor, I would have been deprived of further projects after a couple of films. The very fact that I have about sixty five films to my credit is the testimony. If producers keep on approaching me with new
projects and if people are interested in seeing my films, I realise I have been accepted by the audience. Film-goers alone have the final say on whether an actor could be called a 'star' or not.

Your 'don't care' image?

To learn that people consider me as a good actor, is something that makes me happy. But, I have never ever claimed anything beyond that. I don't project myself as good human being or as a role model. I am just an actor. But, being an actor does not demand sacrificing my true self. I am an introvert by nature. I simply cannot chat with people with whom I don't have any prior acquaintance. That leaves me with two options - either I can be what I am, or I can just stop being my true self in real life also. This means I should start acting both on and off the camera.

I consider it fake to acknowledge absolute strangers who come visiting at the location with questions such as, "how are you? hope all at your home are doing good?"and the like. Given the fact that I don't know a particular person, you just tell me whether I should be genuine in my attitude to him or play fake?

Marriage controversy?

Even that has two levels. First of all, an individual's right to privacy need to be respected. But, I also know that being an actor, I am very much in a public domain. Supriya is not a film personality. She was not a celebrity and her area of work was purely out of public domain. She is a journalist by profession.

Moreover, she is not a person who likes such kind of publicity. Now if I proclaim to the world that I am in love with this girl, media would have spoilt it all. Her photographs are sure to come in print. Supriya had asked me to avoid such a situation and I knew very well that she was right. That was why I guarded it as secret till the date of our marriage. If my decision had hurt anyone, I readily apologise.

But, I tell you, if ever I marry again that will also be in the same fashion only. I have always wanted my marriage to take place as a very private ceremony, in front of close relatives.

Do you think this controversy has affected your image as an actor?

No, not a bit. In fact, my approach to cinema is different. I have never ever tried to create a clean image for myself. When I take up a project of my choice, I put in my best effort to perfect the role. I don't have a very active social life outside films. Once the day's shooting is over, I return to my room, read books and watch TV. You will never see me chatting in a friends' circle, after the day's work.

So a typical introvert?

Yes, like many others. But, I ended up being an actor, that's all. I am least bothered about my image. If my popularity among the masses had gone down after my marriage, then nobody would have approached me with projects after that. With God's grace, I have many projects at hand. My first release after marriage was 'Manickyakallu' which was a big hit. 'Urumi' is also doing good business. Now, even if it has affected my so-called image, I don't care.

On Asif Ali's comment?

I had already replied to it. See, it is not that one fine morning I issue a press release stating that neither Mammootty nor Mohanlal has congratulated me. Try to understand that it was not like that at all.

Once during an interview, a journalist asked me about Rajnikant calling me up after seeing 'Mozhi'. I said it was right. I even elaborated that Rajni Sir talked to me for about half an hour and told me that I am doing a good job. Then came the query whether Mammootty or Mohanlal had given me such congratulatory phone calls. I gave a very frank reply that neither of them had called me over phone to congratulate me on my work.

But, in fact, Mammukka had said many good things about many of my films in person while we were acting together for 'Pokkiriraja'. Recently, when I visited him at his house, he had told me that he appreciated my style of acting in 'Manikyakallu'. What I told that reporter was that Mammootty and Mohanlal had not called me up over telephone to congratulate me.

Now, regarding the Asif Ali issue, it is true that I have not rung him up to congratulate the actor. The fact is that I have seen just one film in which Asif acted. It is 'Traffic'. But, after watching 'Traffic', I felt like to congratulate its scriptwriters and director only, which I promptly did.

Indian Rupee?

Renjith chettan told me at the beginning itself that for this film he wanted Prithviraj the actor, whom he had seen in Nandanam and Thirakadha, and not a star. I think , my character Jayaprakash in this film is one of the best in my career. One positive thing about the film is that Jayaprakash, the central character in the film, is a representative of Kerala's youth.Usually, Malayalam films deal with youngsters who are put up either in a campus or in an IT world. It is as if youngsters in Kerala live in campus or IT sector alone. We all know that the bulk of Kerala's youth lies outside both these sectors. Jayaprakash is a real estate broker. To be precise, he is the very last loop of that long real estate business chain. He is the one who reports about a 'to be sold' property to the broker at the next level. He lives on the meagre commission that he gets after every successful transaction. But, he wants to make money fast and dreams of becoming a millionaire.

This one not a love story?

Just like 'Pranchiettan', in 'Indian Rupee' a sombre philosophy gets treated in satirical manner so that it reaches the audience fast. Also, people are always curious to know about the rich guys. Bill Gates and even the vaults in Padmanabhaswamy temple amuse us for the same reason. We are bothered just about the immense riches in these vaults, and not about its historical value.

Here, Jayaprakash also lives in a world of fascination built on his dreams of making it big in real estate business someday.

On Urumi's success?

Infact, it is Urumi's success that prompted me to take up this project under the banner of August Cinemas. During its initial stage, almost all of them whom I consulted, told me to discard the herculean project as it was set on a vast canvas. My friend Shaji Nateshan and cinematographer Santhosh Sivan were the only ones who gave me the courage to take up the project.

Actually, Shaji is the one behind the formation of the production company. But, when they saw Urumi clicking at the boxoffice, people changed their opinion. However, the risk factor behind the endeavour was very huge. Though I had acted in 'Ravan', 'Urumi' is the biggest film I had ever associated with. The fact that the very first film that I had produced in my life was set on such a big canvas, and that project itself became a success boosted my confidence level.

Prithvi, the singer?

Though the couple of songs that I have sung have been appreciated, I am not into singing. I have not learnt classical music and I know that people who are far good singers than me are waiting for a chance. In 'Puthiyamukham' they wanted me to sing a song purely to cash in on it. In 'Urumi', Deepak Dev wanted me to sing a song, not because I am a good singer, but only because people will be curious to hear me singing. I am not that adventurous to venture more into music.

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