VIJAY GEORGE

Prithviraj, who won the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Actor, says the recognition will boost the confidence of young actors.

My character in `Vasthavam' was a complex one.

Big box office success has often eluded Prithviraj, but he has never been short of offers in Malayalam. He has made his presence felt in Tamil and is all set to make his debut in Telugu. He may have his share of detractors and admirers. But it would be hard to ignore Prithviraj who has bagged the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Actor for his role as Balachandran Adiga in M. Padmakumar's `Vasthavam.' Prithviraj has seen some of his actions and remarks landing him in unexpected controversies. The award too is not devoid of criticism. In an interview, the actor, who seems to be unfazed by criticism, chooses his words carefully but never ducks a question. Excerpts: Were you expecting the award for `Vasthavam'? I wasn't. According to our scheme of things, there is a certain genre of films for which you anticipate awards and `Vasthavam' did not perfectly fit into that category. It was a film made for the masses and I am happy about the recognition for such a film. Moreover, I was in Chennai and was not aware that the film was sent for the awards or that my name was in contention. I had expected the film to do well at the box office. I liked it when I first read the script, I liked it when I was doing the film and I liked it a lot when I saw it. I admit that eventually it wasn't the kind of success that I thought it would be. What do you think impressed the jury? I feel that it could have been the depth of the character as much as my performance. My character in `Vasthavam' was a complex one. He had certain issues that had to be dealt within himself. I guess I portrayed the character and the conflict he faces convincingly and the judges felt so. Are you surprised by the controversy that the announcement of the awards has sparked off?I don't know whether I should be surprised or amused. I am amused when I hear certain comments, even from the media, that the award has come too early in my career. I find it difficult to understand if it is my age or the number of films that they meant while making such a comment. Don't forget that no eyebrows get raised when the female leads get the awards in their twenties or even before. It's surprising that when I became the youngest actor to win it, it becomes an issue.Your response to certain remarks that the award has not reached the eligible person.Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. If they feel someone else was more eligible for the award, it's fine. It is a free country. On a personal note, I am not competing with big stars of proven eminence like Mammootty or Mohanlal. They are brilliant actors and the whole world knows that. I believe it's just that the jury found my performance good this year. It's a confidence booster for young actors and now there will be a feeling that if we do quality work, we stand a chance to win such recognition. Why is it that young blood often get sidelined in Malayalam when they are welcomed in other languages, like Tamil, for instance?Perhaps, it is our aversion to accept change. We are conservative and look at new things with a certain apprehension. Your forthcoming projects`Mozhi' with Jyothika and Prakash Raj is getting released this month and right now I am shooting for another film in Tamil. In Malayalam, `Anantham' has been completed and the shooting of `Khaki' directed by Bipin will start soon.