CINEMA Sarat Prakash, who made his debut as a child actor, is back to films with a lead role in Cheers

For a seven-year-old, a film set can be quite a scary experience—lots of people, noisy environments, the incessant glare of arc lights and strangers shouting orders. “You don’t really know what you are doing there and you just do what grown-ups tell you,” says Sarat Prakash, the cute boy with an adorable smile (sans a tooth), who played Mammootty’s son in Sathyan Anthikad’s No.1 Snehatheeram Bangalore North . That was in 1995.

In love with the camera

Seventeen years later, that special relationship with the camera continues for Sarat, who is now a confident young man of 24. He is back in films, this time as one of the leads in debutant director M.S. Ajithkumar’s Cheers .

Sarat remembers that the camera was the least scary thing for him then. “For most people, I’ve heard, facing the camera for the first time is the most unnerving experience. I didn’t have a problem at all I guess,” he says. All he remembers from the film was sleeping next to Mammootty in a song sequence. “He asked me how I slept at home and I remember saying I put a leg over my dad. He asked me to do the same.”

Academics

Sarat did two more films after No.1 ... ( The Prince with Mohanlal and Adivaram with Vijayaraghavan), a tele-serial and a couple of ads, but acting, as a career, was nowhere in his scheme of things. “You know, I was the typical guy, who wanted to make it big in academics,” he says. After graduating from St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, in Economics and Statistics, Sarat worked as a research analyst in Nielsen, Mumbai, for two years.

Joining his dad’s advertising company in Kochi, however, brought with it some surprises. While settling down in the city, a regional film magazine happened to carry an article on the “child artiste” and that brought him the unexpected break. “Honestly, I did not think too much about it. I was excited, of course, and I decided to give it a shot,” Sarat says.

The film, which was shot mostly in Thiruvananthapuram, and is expected to release in February, tells the story of a group of friends, in different age groups, and the various situations they are faced with. “It is essentially a love story. But there is a lot of situational humour and it is a very spontaneous film,” he says.

Good experience

Since most of his co-stars in the film are new to acting, they hit it off well as a group, practising together and correcting one and other. The two-day acting workshop organised before the shoot also helped a great deal in getting things in perspective, Sarat says.

Reappearing before the camera posed its own set of challenges, says Sarat, but the role was not something that required too much of a struggle. “I knew the basics of acting. The only real effort was to stay in the frame. Also, I play a nice guy in the film—a nice guy who is kind of short-tempered. ” His love interest is played by Janaki, the girl who played Mammootty’s daughter in Black .

A staunch film buff, Sarat can watch a film five times if he really loves it. “I am a kind of person who gets really, really involved. I love the kind of Malayalam films that have a lot of power-packed dialogues… I really like that stuff,” he says, smiling. However, he prefers to remain grounded when it comes to his own possible career in acting. “To say acting is my passion after one film is too presumptuous,” he says.

ANASUYA MENON

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