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On a roll

Prithviraj, who celebrates his birthday on Friday, talks about his passions and his aspirations


“I’ve the aspirations and the immaturity too of youngsters my age,” confesses Prithviraj, who turns 27 tomorrow (October 16). The actor, who’s on a roll with back-to-back hits Robin Hood and Puthiya Mugham plans to celebrate his birthday with his family at his sprawling home in the city. “Most birthdays of mine are quick affairs on the sets. But I got lucky this time,” he says.

The city has always been dear to Prithviraj. As a teenager, his favourite hangout was ‘Ambrosia’ at Bakery Junction. “Now, I spend my free time at The Leela Kempinski, Kovalam. It’s an awesome place to be in,” he says. An avid traveller, he says of all the places he’s been to, Interlaken, Switzerland, is the place that has amazed him the most with its surreal beauty. So has the island of Tasmania, Australia, where he did a year of studies at the University of Tasmania. Memories and photographs of Shimla, where he went on a road trip a couple of years back, continues to haunt him.

“Given a chance to pursue higher education, I’d love to do a course in cinematography,” says the zealous photographer who owns a Nikon D200 SLR and does occasional photography sojourns. The white Audi Q7 parked outside his house is testimony to his fascination with cars. “I’m planning to buy a Porche Cayenne soon,” mentions Prithviraj. Reading is another hobby though the Libran claims he does not have a favourite author. He’s currently reading ‘Half a Yellow Sun’ by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “Needless to say, films are on the top of my list,” he points out.

Talking movies

Prithviraj just completed a schedule for Raavan, which has Mani Ratnam wielding the megaphone. Mani Ratnam’s grasp of Malayalam literature astounds the actor. “He’s virtually read all popular books in Malayalam and knows even the names of Basheer’s characters!”

Not many know that it was director Fazil, who did Prithviraj’s first screen test. “I’d gone to Chennai to visit Pachikka [Fazil] on an errand, when I’d completed school. On his persuasion, I did a screen-test with a girl from Kochi called Asin Thottumkal (Asin, for those who came in late). Ranjith ettan happened to see my performance and roped me to play the hero in Nandanam,” recalls Prithviraj.

However he is not part of The 19th Step anymore. The film, an international project by Walt Disney films and Bharatbala, was touted to have Kamal Hassan and Prithviraj in the lead. “The film needed me to undergo over five months of rigorous training, and my schedule was too tight to accommodate the movie,” he explains.

Among all the movies he’s done, Prithviraj says he enjoyed the most while working in Vargam. The film was a turning point in his career, he admits. However, the climb upward wasn’t easy. “I did have my lucky days in the beginning. But then the going was tough. Critics panned me after every movie. Yet, I burnt the midnight oil, and worked hard. Today, I make movies such as Puthiya Mugham and succeed on my own right,” points out the actor who is now working on Raghupati Raghava Rajaram and Anwar.

Talking about the chemistry he shares with Prakash Raj, he says animatedly: “The bonhomie we share is more prominent off-screen than on-screen. We have similar interests and share a good camaraderie.”

The duo first acted together in the Tamil movie Parjiatham. Then came Mozhi, where Prakash replaced another actor, who initially played his role. Prithviraj had a cameo in their third movie together – Abhiyum Naanum. In fact, it was on the insistence of Prithviraj that Prakash bought the rights of Udayananu Tharam, which was later remade as Vellithirai. “Actor Innocent congratulated me on my performance in the movie” he grins.

Playing down media hype about his newly-attained superstar status, Prithviraj retorts: “I can’t comprehend the idea of superstardom. I’m essentially a struggler. I’ve had my rough patches. I’ve gone through a lot – physical, mental and emotional distress.” Ideally, he expects the Malayalam film industry to be like Hollywood, some 10 years down the line. “Does Hollywood have a superstar?” He answers his own rhetoric question: “No!”

“Mammotty and Mohanlal are the real superstars of the industry – true blue actors par excellence. They’ve put the bar so high that an average actor in the industry can never go beyond his second movie.”

Starry tweets

Like many celebrities, Prithviraj is also on twitter. "Tweeting is my thing. I just have to spend at least five minutes a day to tweet about the day’s happenings." There are many fake profiles in his name. "This person used the ID to tweet outrageously incorrect facts about me in first person. Ergo, I had no other option, but to join twitter, just to get my name cleared," he adds with a smile. His twitter page is: http://twitter.com/lionheart_ps

HARI SHANKER R.

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