Sunday, May 27, 2012

The ‘Hero'

In the last decade or so, Prithviraj has done around 70 films, mainly in Malayalam and also a few in Tamil, with almost every prominent director in the business. He has now completed shooting for his maiden Bollywood film and is all set to do another one, which he says, enigmatically, is a magnum opus but refuses to elaborate on the project.

At 30, he has gone through success and setback, sycophancy and slander in equal measures. However, he has also learnt to take it all in his stride. An interviewer's delight, the star never shies away from any queries; Prithviraj has an opinion on anything related to his career and cinema. In this interview, he talks about his films and dreams, as his latest film ‘Hero' hit the screen. Excerpts:

Your ‘Puthiya Mugham', which was directed by Diphan, was a huge hit. The two of you come together again in ‘Hero'. What makes this movie special?

‘Hero' is a mass entertainer and we are not claiming it to be anything beyond that. But it speaks about a space within cinema, which has not been discussed extensively before. Although there have been several films dealing with the cinema within cinema pattern, it is for the first time that the focus is on the men who enact thrilling action sequences. In fact, it is a non-glamorous area that we are getting into and I am playing a stunt artiste. As is common in movies, we go to exotic locales in Europe to shoot songs but the action sequences are always shot inside a godown or a factory. What is worse than that is that regardless of the efforts the stunt artistes put in, we don't remember the name of even a single stunt artiste who might have lost his life while playing a ‘dupe' for the hero. ‘Hero' has a fresh look on this subject and outstanding action.

Do you think stars have become less important now from the days when you started your career?

I have always maintained that actors need to be less important in the industry and that projects are not to be constructed around actors. The ‘satellite rights' (paid by TV channels to procure the rights to air movies), which remains the biggest revenue generation area in the industry, are often decided without considering what the story of the film is and or the strength of the script. All they want to know is the cast of the movie, who is directing it, how many action sequences have been included, and how many songs are there. If films are backed because of their content, then we would have taken a bold step. At this point of time, we are in the right direction but we still have a long way to go. It feels good to know that films without big stars are being accepted. I have always maintained that that it is the way it should be.

On a personal note, I have never been an actor who is bothered about my star status. If it were so, then I wouldn't have done films such as ‘Manjadikkuru', ‘Achanurangatha Veedu', ‘Thalappavu' and ‘Akale' and said yes to play a villain in the forthcoming film ‘Arival Chuttika Nakshathram'. If films based on my image as an actor are being made, it does not mean they have been made as per my design. I have never designed or planned a film to cater to my so-called ‘star status'.

How do you plan to fit in to the ‘new generation wave', which is now seen in Malayalam cinema? film a fresh believed to be happening now?

If you mean the good cinema that is being made now, then yes, we have quite a lot of them coming up. I am definitely part of such experiments and I think ‘Indian Rupee' was in such a mould.

Do you think there has been a difference in the tastes of audiences as well?

There has been a natural evolution in the way stories are being told. I don't know if a ‘22 Female Kottayam' would have been lauded so much 10 years ago. The fact that people are coming to theatres to watch these kind of films and that they understand, relate, and comprehend such kind of cinema is amazing.

How was the experience shooting for your first Hindi film, ‘Aiyaa'?

It gives you a lot of confidence when a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap, who is producing it, appreciates your work and wants you to be part of his project. It was an eye-opener to realise that people in other-language cinema are watching our industry as well. Also, it is a great feeling to be 75 films old and then make a debut in another language.

You have achieved so much at a really young age. What goals have you set for yourself to achieve from now on?

Frankly, I have never worked towards a goal. It has always been a journey to be a part of good cinema and, more importantly, to do whatever projects you take up, with conviction. I may have done good films and bad films, but every single film had 100 per cent of my effort.

How serious are you as a producer?

I am only serious to the point that if there is an idea of a film that I love and that can be made by me, I would like to produce it. Of course, I am not looking forward to launch a company where I will have a release every Friday.

You have been the butt of jokes and targeted by some hate-campaigns! by certain groups, sometime back. Are you relieved that it seems to be over?

I really don't bother. The so-called hate campaign has prompted me to work harder. So, all those people who hate me can continue hating me.

What next?

Currently I am wrapping up Shaji Kailas' ‘Simhasanam'. Then there are two films, both scripted by Bobby-Sanjay, directed by Lal Jose and Rosshan Andrrews. I am playing the role of the legendary J.C. Daniel in director Kamal's film and then there is the Bollywood film that will be announced shortly.


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