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Updated: September 26, 2013 20:39 IST

The dreamer’s destiny

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Actor Prakash Raj
The Hindu
Actor Prakash Raj

Prakash Raj is all set to make his tri-lingual film, which will go on the sets soon

In a career spanning 21 years, he has acted in over 300 films. He has produced 13 films, is constantly hopping cities — Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Tiruvananthapuram and Mumbai keeping hectic schedules. He sleeps five hours a day, and makes sure he has time for his loved ones. Kannada’s own Prakash Rai and Prakash Raj of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi films is a meticulous man.

“The busiest man on the earth is the one, who always has ‘some’ more time to experiment with his creativity,” says Prakash Rai, welcoming us for the launch of his new production. Prakash, who left Bangalore after Naanu Nanna Kanasu, a remake of Abhiyum Nanum in Tamil directed by Radha Mohan, is back after his marriage to Bollywood choreographer Pony Verma. This tri-lingual venture of Prakash is going on sets in September last week.

“I have booked a picturesque resort near Mysore to shoot the film simultaneously in three languages. As the film has universal quality, I am making changes to suit native needs. The insights and unusual narrative forced me into this remake,” he explains.

The transformation of Prakash is rather stunning. From a humble stage actor in Kannada, he went on to bag two national awards for his top rate performance in Manirathnam’s Iruvar and Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram. He is now among the most sought after actor in the four languages and Bollywood as well. It is said that, he has an offer from Hollywood too. But Prakash neither confirms nor refutes this. He just says, “I belong to the entire world.”

Though he began as a villain , he managed to make each role different from his unique performance. It is not an exaggeration, if we say that there is no role that he has not performed in his career. In fact, he lived up to the expectations of his mentor K. Balachander, who was instrumental in launching the careers of Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan. He scaled new heights and to understand his genius, one has to watch Iruvar, Anthapuram, Kannathil Muttamittal, Kanchivaram, Nagamandala, and several others.

Metamorphosis of Prakash Rai from humble theatre person to a superstar is a rag to riches story. He began his acting career with Kannada Doordarshan serial such as; Bisilu Kudure and Guddada Bhoota. Later, he graduated in to films to do small roles in important films including Ramachari, Nishkarsha. His acting potential was noticed by actor Geetha, while working with him for Harakeya Kuri directed by K.S.L. Swamy and introduced to K. Balachander who cast him in the film Duet. The rest is history.

“I never thought I would be in this position some 20 years ago. I had only Rs.140 in my pocket, when I left for Chennai. Bought two buckets of water in the railway station and took bath. Wearing a white shirt I went to meet Balachander. If I could rise to being a producer and even lose Rs. 4 crore at the box office, I owe every bit to him,” remembers Prakash, who graduated into films from theatre and tv serials. “Audience gave me unlimited freedom. I can don roles of father, brother, villain, old man… everything. How many have been fortunate like me?” he asks.

“In Chandigarh airport, a sikh patted me on my back, and called out to me Prakash Bhai. He did not how to express his appreciation and pulled five thousand rupees from his pocket and kept it in mine. Similar was the case when I was in Jaipur. I have got more than what I deserve,” he says getting emotional.

Rai is a dreamer and is restless about achieving things in his life. Of course, he had done some silly roles too. But he has no regrets. “Well I have my own reasons for doing such roles. It could be for money or some other obligation,” he reasons. Being a voracious reader and familiar with works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Tejaswi, Kuvempu, Bendre to Tiruvallavar, what makes him endearing to directors is the way he vibes with them.

He was all praise for Farhan Akhtar as Milka Singh in Bagh Milkha Bagh, where he donned the role of a no-nonsense military man. “A director can only do such a role. He has dedicated two years for the film,” he said in appreciation. When asked about his penchant for remakes, “Why not? Don’t we read Ramachandra Deva’s translation of Shakespeare, Blake by Ananthamurthy? I am a story teller. My aim is to tell a story, to the best of my ability. I chose the best and offer to the people,” he hits back.

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