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`I cannot allow love to rule my thoughts'

That's great news. Do I have a role in the film? - Abirami

Prakash Raj and Abirami enjoy a friendship that allows them to call each other by their nicknames.

He calls her `raindrop' because she likes to get drenched in the rain, and she calls him `traveller' because he gallivants across the globe whenever he can spare the time. When the two met at Chola Sheraton, they greeted each other with a bear hug. After some banter, they began to quiz each other for Take Two.

S. R. Ashok Kumar eavesdropped.

Abirami: Don't you touch the cigarette case! You are not smoking till we are through with this.

Prakash Raj: (With a helpless look) I will try not to! Hey, how long are you going to remain single? Have you spotted Mr. Right?

Abirami: (Pat comes the reply) Not yet.

Prakash Raj: (His eyebrows go up) You mean to say nobody has proposed to you yet?

Abirami: Ah! Even at school, there was always some lovelorn boy mooning over me. (Disdainfully) But I turned them all down. Right now, I am too tied down to work to allow love to rule my thoughts.

Prakash Raj: How efficient are you in the kitchen?

Abirami: (Laughs) You cannot expect more than rice, rasam, lady's finger porial, noodles and a few salads from me!

Prakash Raj: The guy who marries you must be lucky. With such a diet, he does not have to worry about getting obese.

Abirami: (Pouts) I like your sarcasm! Can you cook?

Prakash Raj: Of course, I can. I mean I can cook up stories. (Laughs aloud)

Abirami: How do you manage to bring so much intensity to your screen character?

Prakash Raj: Because I surrender myself to the script. (Plaintively) Can I have a smoke, please?

Abirami: (Sternly) Nothing doing. Now, don't sulk.

Prakash Raj: Who's sulking? I am doing fine.

Abirami: (Looking thoughtfully at him) I have noticed one thing about you. Whenever I ask you how-do-you-do, your answer is always the same: `I am wonderful.' Surely, you cannot be in high spirits always! What about the times when you feel low? What do you do with yourself?

Prakash Raj: I wander. I travel. That is my way of coping with setbacks and disappointments.

Abirami : Hey, when are you going to direct a film?

Prakash Raj: You know what? This year, I will be making my directorial debut.

Abirami: (Looks genuinely happy) Hey, that's great news! Do I have a role in the film?

Prakash Raj: The project is yet to take off. Once everything is finalised, I'll let you know. Tell me, Abi, is there a dream role that you think is worth giving your life for?

Abirami: (Laughs) I will not give my life for anything.

Prakash Raj: Do you enjoy working in the Tamil film industry?

Abirami: Absolutely. Mainly because it allows me to speak my mother tongue, Tamil.

Prakash Raj: What!? Tamil is your mother tongue? You must be kidding!

Abirami: Hey listen, I am a Tamilian who was brought up in Kerala.

Prakash Raj: That explains it. I always used to wonder how you could speak Tamil slang like `Mami' and `Atthu' (house).

Abirami: Where and when were you born?

Prakash Raj: In a lifetime, one is born many times. I was born in the 1960s in Bangalore. And I was `born' in college again, as a theatre actor. But I became serious about theatre only when I joined Kalakshetra. Those days, I used to act in back-to-back shows for a measly Rs. 300 a month. Most of the nights, I used to sleep backstage. After 2,000 street theatre performances to my credit, I realised I was made for something bigger. And a series of births followed. First, as a television person. Cinema came next. After disappointing stints as editor and assistant director, I almost gave up. When the situation seemed utterly hopeless, the tide turned. Convinced that I had talent, K. Balachander gave me a chance. And an actor was born. And it is almost time for my next birth - as director.

Abirami: Have you ever felt challenged or threatened by another actor?

Prakash Raj: No. That too, despite having worked with titans such as Mohanlal, Amitabh Bachchan and Kamal Haasan. I am very strong-willed and a bit arrogant too. With absolute modesty, I can say that I am good and therefore have no reason to feel threatened by any other actor. How about you?

Abirami: (Laughs) Well, I have often felt threatened by your presence. Many a time your acting has dwarfed mine. You simply steal the show.

Prakash Raj: That's a great compliment!

Abirami: "Okkadu" and "Gilli" - which is better?

Prakash Raj: I am not so sure about that. But this much I know - the best thing in both the films is Prakash Raj!

(At the end of it, Prakash Raj reaches for his cigarette case. And Abirami looks on disapprovingly)

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