After straddling the film worlds in the South, Prithviraj makes his debut in Bollywood. In a chat with Harshikaa Udasi, he speaks about Aiyya, co-star Rani Mukherjee and more
His first film in Hindi is yet to release and the man has already impressed the right people in Bollywood. As he goes about on a promotion spree for his debut Hindi movie, Aiyya, Malayalam superstar Prithviraj Sukumaran is off to Delhi to shoot a substantial portion of the Yash Raj film Aurangzeb. “We have shot for a bit in Mumbai and, besides telling you that Arjun Kapoor, Sabah Agha and I are in the film, I am bound by a confidentiality agreement. All I would like to clarify is, contrary to its name, Aurangzeb is not a period film,” says the actor, who has starred in over 80 films in the last dozen years, and is reportedly close to signing a big banner third film in Hindi too.
But Prithviraj has decided not to go ballistic about his debut Hindi performance. He is relying on the script of Aiyya to work with the audiences. “When I signed Aiyya, I wasn’t thinking in terms of this being my grand entry into Bollywood. It wasn’t a designed move. Though I wanted to step into this industry too, I wasn’t going in search of scripts. At the same time, it wasn’t like I was flooded with offers. Some films were offered to me earlier, but I was waiting for a really good one,” he says.
Asked whether he thought twice about signing a film where the director was a new face and the actress (Rani Mukherjee) would obviously be in the limelight, Prithviraj says, “Had the script not lured me, it would have been different. I liked the script and, had Aiyya been made into any language, I would have been part of it. It has been made in Hindi and here I am,” he says calmly.
Directed by newbie Sachin Kudalkar, Aiyya tells the story of a Maharashtrian girl (played by Rani Mukherjee) who falls in love with a Tamil boy (Prithviraj), a student of art. The basis for this love? Rani’s mesmerised by the way he smells! “Rani’s character has an instinct for sniffing out good people, I’d say! She falls in love with my character only to realise that there are aspects of me she doesn’t instinctively understand,” he says.
Asked about his co-star, Prithviraj says, “Rani is an intrusive kind of actor. By that I mean she goes out of the way to make sure everyone is comfortable. She would walk up to each of us and enquire about family; she would call the entire unit to her house for rehearsals. She’s amazing.”
The actor, who has worked in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu industries, says the functioning of the Hindi film industry differs in style. “The process of filmmaking is pretty much the same. The only difference is that in the South, we announce our release dates right after the muhurat and stick to it. There is a sense of hurriedness following that. Here, the atmosphere is a little relaxed. Filming and post-production take time and that’s the way they should be,” he says, adding that even he wants to follow a relaxed pace now. “I have packed in a lot in my career. Now I want to go slow. There is no compulsion for a better work-life balance, but internally I feel the need to go slow.”
Prithviraj’s next Malayalam film Ayalum Njanum Thammil (October 18) with Lal Jose is about a medical student who discovers his self. “Ayalum Njanum Thammil is very close to my heart too. That’s one film I’d even like to see remade in Hindi.”