Prakash Raj on his multiple roles in cinema.
Prakash Raj attracts attention even when he is playing a corpse. He talks, mimics, cracks jokes and makes faces till the camera starts rolling and then he is dead serious about his work.
As he takes a break in between the shoot of Shyamaprasad's ‘Elektra,' Prakash is all game for a chat about his multiple roles as actor, director and producer. “It's all a matter of perception. I am the same person,” he says. He continues: “A film is like a painting with each actor adding a shade or a colour to the final composition. The director decides which colour and what shade he wants in the painting. So I always look at my character, script and director before I agree to be part of a film.”
The national award-winning actor says he is in ‘Elektra' as he was impressed by Shyamaprasad's script and his style of working. “I was driving down from Nagercovil to Thiruvananthapuram when I got a call from Shyam. We met at a teashop and I took a liking to the script. I also liked his informal style of working and so here I am playing two roles [Alexander and Issac] in his film,” says Prakash. While Alexander is an elderly man whose wife is having an affair with a younger man, Issac is the younger man who courts Elektra (played by Nayanthara). The actor says he can't wait to get out of the older man's character and become the debonair Issac.
Prakash will also be dubbing for both the characters. “I think it is very important for an actor to dub for his character. It is a question of respect for the language. Each language has its own music and idiom and I am sure I will be able to do it. In fact, when I acted in ‘Iruvar,' I did not know Tamil at all. Since I had donned the role of a scholar and orator like M. Karunanidhi, the Tamil I spoke had to be very correct in all respects and I did it,” he points out. And he also won the national award for the best supporting actor for his efforts.
Then came the national award for the best actor for his work in Priyadarsan's ‘Kanchivaram.' Calling him a brilliant director who knows his mind, Prakash says he is just happy to be part of such projects. “I had to unlearn all that I had learnt and surrender myself to the role.”
Prakash will also be seen in Anwar Rasheed's ‘Anwar' where he is shares screen space with Prithviraj. The two had acted together in the Tamil ‘Mozhi' and in ‘Vellithirai.' The camaraderie between the two is evident when he says: “I admire his work and empathise with his dreams. Extremely hardworking, he is a brilliant actor who is very serious about cinema.”
As calls interrupt the interview, Prakash tells you that those are from Andhra Pradesh where he is producing a big-budget Telugu film ‘Payanam' (which means travel). “Those calls are my design people. I have to approve the designs for the set of the film (worth about Rs. 3.5 crores), which is about a hijack. The action unfolds over four nights and five days.”
The multitasking Prakash is in a buoyant mood as his maiden directorial venture in Kannada ‘Nannu Nanna Kanansu,' a remake of the Tamil ‘Abhiyum Njanum,' produced by him, is reportedly doing well. “I am also producing ‘Inidhu Inidhu,' the Tamil remake of the Telugu ‘Happy Days' and ‘Mayil,' a dark tale that is an experimental film,” says Prakash. He says he is not in favour of dubbed films as he feels that each film is rooted in the culture of the language it is made in. “These dubbed films are made solely with an eye on the box office. I am sure this is a temporary phenomenon. For a film should click with the audience, it is imperative that both the producer and the director know who their audience is before making a film. For instance, a film like ‘Mozhi' would click with an urban audience but its nuances would be lost in the villages.”
Without mincing words he says that trade unionism can only damage cinema as it is a creative medium. “I hope common sense prevails.” But quiz him about the attempt to create a space for Malayalam cinema by delaying the release of other language films in Kerala and then he turns statesman. “If it is a question of survival and necessity, then the demand can be justified. But it depends on the situation. If the tone is one of arrogance, then that stance can be questioned.”
But Prakash emphasises that as far he is concerned, it is the journey that he interests him and not necessarily the destination. “I surrender to my role, whether it be as producer, actor or director.”