New superstar on the block
Prithviraj says the success of ‘Puthiya Mugham’ opens a news chapter in his career.
At a certain point in your career, directors start perceiving you in various kinds of roles…
A new phase: Prithviraj moves into the big league with the success of ‘Puthiya Mugham.’
Prithviraj is a busy man. The success of his latest release ‘Puthiya Mugham,’ which he feels may act as a catalyst for more of such “high-energy” movies, has catapulted him to new heights.
The young actor’s line-up of films include Mani Ratnam’s high-profile project ‘Ravan,’ Shaji Kailas’ ‘Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram’ and Joshiy’s ‘Robin Hood.’ It is late evening on the sets of ‘Robin Hood,’ but a mint-fresh Prithviraj is all game for an interview in which he talks in detail about his films and more. Excerpts …
You have had hits in the past, so what is special about the success of ‘Puthiya Mugham’?
‘Puthiya Mugham’ is probably the first actor-based script that I have done. It means the story was based on one character mainly. The script was developed in a way in which it could portray every facet of the character. It shows the lead character, Krishnakumar, as a romantic boy-next-door, as an aspiring musician, as an innocent victim of circumstances and finally as a man who returns to take revenge on his tormentors.
I feel no other film in the recent past has had a complete package for an actor as far as characterisation was concerned. All these factors make it one of the most relevant successes in my career.
But no film will be a hit or a flop because of a particular actor. A film’s success depends on many things – story idea, script, direction, performances and the like.
The one lesson that you learnt from Mani Ratnam?
(Smiles) That there is no easy way to make a film. That is the lesson that I am learning here with Joshiy Sir as well. You have to go through the grind.
Working in ‘Ravan’ with stars like Aiswarya Rai…
We are shooting the climax next and after that it will be the combination scenes with me and Aiswarya Rai. Obviously, she is professional, talented, beautiful and an international star. Still, what mattered to me, is that it is a Mani Ratnam film.
It is a privilege sharing space with such people; an invaluable experience interacting with Bollywood and international technicians. It is a huge film, perhaps the biggest that Mani Ratnam has ever done.
Are you on a signing spree?
Not really. All the films that I am doing until next year were signed much before ‘Puthiya Mugham.’ I start doing a new film after completing the existing one. I think, the problem in the Malayalam film industry is that we announce release dates even before the project is finalised.
Do you try to strike a balance between serious and commercial ventures?
It’s not done deliberately. At a certain point in your career, directors start perceiving you in various kinds of roles and I am fortunate enough to have entered that phase. The result is that I am doing films in very different genres.
For instance, after ‘Puthiya Mugham,’ I am doing ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram’ and they are not connected in any way. I am also doing Biju’s ‘Veettilekkulla Vazhi,’ which has a brilliant script. My only concern is the quality of a film, regardless of whether it is an art house movie or a pot boiler.
What do you look forward to in a script?
Firstly, it should be good enough to enthuse me as a viewer, whether it is an offbeat theme or a commercial venture. As it sometimes happens, you may like a script and start imagining the film in your mind but the final product will not be anywhere near your expectations. I have lost films in the past when I had raised doubts about certain technical aspects like the equipment being used, camera or the stock. I still ask but the difference is that I don’t lose films now because of that.
How tough is it being a star?
I am here because of my passion for films and I love doing it . Once I take a decision, I work hard on it. you You have to keep in mind that crores of rupees are being invested based on your saleability. Serious films like ‘Akale,’ ‘Thalappavu’ and ‘Daivanamathil’ may turn out to be occasional indulgences then. Of course, there is pressure and I like living with it.
Have you planned a career in Tamil or in Bollywood?
I have not planned anything. I just want to be in cinema. I think gut instincts work here better and my mantra is to ‘follow your heart.’ I had to say no to a Ram Gopal Varma production in Hindi, which required the protagonist to be a Hindi-speaking Malayali as I was busy with the Mani Ratnam film. ‘Ninaithale Inikkum’ is my next film in Tamil, which will be releasing on September 4.
Has the success of ‘Puthiya Mugham’ come as a breather?
On the contrary, I feel less relaxed. The success has come with more responsibilities. More money is being put on me and my films are being sold at higher rates. Moreover, I don’t want to feel relaxed. I will feel relaxed when I am 55.
When do you plan to make your debut as a director?
In fact I wanted to do a film this year. Hopefully I will sit down, write and direct a film soon.
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