From composing tunes to facing the camera as an actor in Pencil G.V. Prakash’s life is abuzz with movies, music and more

On the third day of his shoot as hero, G.V. Prakash got slapped by his leading lady. For a scene, of course. “We were shooting in the premises of a college,” he reminisces about the first schedule of Pencil, which marks his debut as an actor, “It was buzzing with people who were keen to know what was going on. I was already nervous and the scene was an intense one. Thankfully, it came out well.”

Around this time last year, life would have been much simpler for this young composer. He’d have been happily jamming with instruments and singers in his cosy studio at Nandanam, and coming up with numbers that would go on to be repeatedly played in TV channels and performed at college music shows.

But not anymore. Even as he continues to work on his first love — music — he has to concentrate on things such as dialogue, expression and looks. “Acting was never on my agenda. When Murugadoss approached me with a project a couple of years ago, I was interested. Though that particular film didn’t kick off, the news of me turning actor got many people interested,” he explains.

Mani Nagaraj was one of them. A long-time associate of Gautham Menon, he narrated a thriller to Prakash, which impressed him much. Pencil, which has him playing a school student, is about incidents that happen in a single day. “We’ve finished 50 per cent of the shoot,” he reveals, “I’m quite happy with the positive feedback to the recently-released stills.”

The stills have not only caught the attention of the movie-going audiences, but also managed to get noticed by the bigwigs of the film fraternity. “When I met Superstar Rajinikanth recently, he asked me how the movie was coming along. He told me, ‘It is destiny. You can’t plan such things in life.’ Coming from him, it means a lot.”

Even as his first film is panning out as scheduled, Prakash has already signed his next, titled Trisha Illena Nayanthara. “I was instantly attracted to the title,” grins Prakash, “It will be a next-gen cult romantic script by Adhik, who, I feel, will be the next Selvaraghavan.” Currently, he is growing a beard for his look in Trisha…. “While I play a studio schoolboy in Pencil, I will be a ‘thara ticket’ brat in Trisha Illena Nayanthara,” he reveals.

How does he manage to fit in his composing assignments amidst his schedules as actor? “Earlier, I used to accept most things that came my way. Now, after about 43 films, I’m at a stage in which I take up stuff only if they excite me.” He’s now working on the music of Irumbu Kuthirai and Eeti, apart from the ones that have him as hero. He also has movies with directors Atlee, Thiru, Vetri Maaran and Vijay lined up. Do deadline pressures wear him out? “I multi-task well, perhaps because I’m a Gemini,” he guffaws, “I’m the kind of person who has to be busy doing something every minute. So, being busy keeps me on my toes.”

For him, music is about coming up with tunes that will be remembered for a long time. “Composing is not like mathematics — it has to showcase what we feel from within. Sometimes, things just happen. For instance, when Selva came up to me and asked me for the theme music for Mayakkam Enna, I just played out something on the keyboard. At one point, he stopped me and said, ‘This is the tune I was looking for’. Sometimes, such magic happens. I also feel very happy when my classical numbers, like ‘Pookal Pookum’ (Madrassapattinam) and ‘Azhagu’ (Saivam) are appreciated.”

Prakash has come a long way since 2006 when Vasanthabalan’s Veyyil — his first film as composer — hit screens. So, how does he track his progress from then to now? “I’ve matured a lot. I can handle people better now,” says the composer, who has worked with acclaimed filmmakers like Bala, Vetri Maaran and Bharathiraaja. Though he entered the industry as A.R. Rahman’s nephew, the eight year-experience in tinseltown has helped him carve a niche of his own. “Scores in films like Aayirathil Oruvan and Aadukalam have helped me gain a lot of ground as a composer. I stay in touch with Rahman every three months. He even congratulated me recently when I won a prestigious award.”    

One of his long-cherished dreams — to do big, live concerts — might just happen sometime in the near future. “We’re working on the logistics for an international tour. I used to be active as a performer and have done a lot of shows before I got into music direction. It would be great if I can re-visit that side of mine,” he says.

 But that’ll have to wait for a year at least. For now, Prakash is content with the multiple roles — actor, singer, composer, producer — that he’s taking on. His only desire in this quest is to work with as many new talents as possible. Both his films as hero are being directed by debutants. All his albums have young singers crooning for the first time. Prakash signs off saying, “Cinema is changing. Names do not really matter; it is content that matters. And as a person who loves cinema, I will back good content.”

Keywords: PencilG.V. Prakash