‘The high point of creativity in cinema is direction’

Prithviraj in a still from Ezra.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

According to Prithviraj, cinema is what his life is all about, right now. Take a look at the list of films that he is currently doing. Debutant director Jay K’s Ezra releases on Friday. Tiyaan, with elder brother Indrajith as his co-star, has just been wrapped up. My Story and Bollywood drama Naam Shabana are currently under way. Vimaanam will start rolling next, followed by Adam. Projects such as Detroit Crossing, Karnan, Aami, Aadujeevitham, Beautiful Game and Gautam Menon’s multi-starrer are in the pipeline. My Great Father, with Mammootty as the hero, bankrolled by his production banner August Cinemas, is all set to hit the screens next month. If all that is not enough to fill his calendar, there is his debut as a director with Lucifer, which has Mohanlal playing the lead.

In his remarkable career spanning 15 years, Prithviraj has mostly lived out of a suitcase, enacting characters of different moulds one after the other. Off the screen, he never shies away from tough questions and is not afraid to air his opinions on relevant issues.

Recently, he was one of the few actors who let the world know about his thoughts on the month-long cinema stalemate in Kerala when no new Malayalam films reached cinemas for nearly a month.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu Friday Review, Prithviraj is candid as usual, while talking about his movies, career and, of course, Lucifer. Excerpts:

What is special about Ezra?

Ezra is a straight forward, honest attempt at the horror genre after a long, long time in Malayalam. We usually have horror comedies here and it has been some time now that a film without a parallel comedy track has reached theatres, something like Bhargavi Nilayam, for instance. It has an engrossing story that pans almost a century and has a strong supernatural presence in its primary element.

Prithviraj and Priya Anand in a still from Ezra.

Prithviraj and Priya Anand in a still from Ezra.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

You have just wrapped up Tiyaan. What is the film about?

Tiyaan is being made on a large canvas and I don’t mean it only in terms of its budget. It’s a very expensive film. I would not want to talk too much about the film right now because we would like to feed in what the film is about step by step through promotional strategies.

You are also doing My Story and Naam Shabana. How is it like to work on several projects simultaneously?

Only half of My Story has been completed. In Naam Shabana I play a cameo. I have finished a major portion of my schedule and I have only four days of shooting left. I know that I am part of many films going on now. Usually, I do one film at a time. It is only during certain cases where the film has to be divided into different schedules and are planned at various times that I end up doing more than one film at a time.

How tough is it to get into the shoes of each character when you have to do films in quick succession?

There is no specific process where I get into a character and I am not that kind of an actor. More often by the time I reach the set, I would have pretty much comprehended the script at a deep level. That is how my preparation works.

When do you plan to start Lucifer?

We are starting the preparations this year. The shooting will happen next year.

How do you feel about becoming a director?

I am as excited about it as a film that I am acting in. The process is the same. My perspective of the film will be from a different point of view. That’s all. I hope I enjoy that process as well. I have always believed that the high point of creativity in cinema is direction and I truly intend to enjoy that at some point of time and it is happening, thanks to Lalettan [Mohanlal], producer Antony [Perumbavoor] and scenarist Murali [Gopy].

What made you choose Lucifer as your directorial debut?

The thought behind the film and what the film can be, enthused me. I hope that I can eventually make the film into what I thought it can be.

Your take on the controversy that your forthcoming film Vimaanam is embroiled in with Aby over the similarity in the basic plot?

I did not have an issue about it. It is Pradeep, the director of Vimaanam, who did. As far I am concerned, Vimaanam is a film that I really love. It came to me in 2012. As long as all the people associated with Vimaanam has complete conviction in the film regardless of another film being made on a similar premise, I am going ahead and doing it.

After so much success in 2015, you only had Paavada as a big hit last year. Do hits and misses affect you?

I will be happy as long as I am able to do films the way I want to do them. Unlike someone who is watching my career, my parameter of happiness might not essentially be success. I could be doing successful films one after the other but I may not be happy. I enjoy what I am doing now. 2015 had lots of successes, 2016 had only a couple of them, that is fine. As long as 2017 puts me in a situation where I can do films the way I want to do them, I will be happy. That is all I want.

As a producer, how did the recent theatre strike affect the industry?

Well, there is a definite, irreversible financial loss. There are no two ways about it. Firstly, we lost what is traditionally known to be one of the most lucrative seasons for Malayalam cinema, which is the Christmas holidays and the year-end season. Now with the change in schedules, lots of films that were supposed to be released in January including my own production, My Great Father , has been pushed to the end of March. So what happens is that we end up paying interest for our investments for these extra months. Unfortunately, there is nothing much that we can do about it right now.

How was it to work with Indrajith in Tiyaan?

It’s always great while working with good actors. In a film where you share an equation with another actor where both the characters you play are involved in a give and take kind of an equation within the script, it’s always good to have a good actor opposite you. I always enjoy acting with him. The same with Tiyaan also. Plus, I don’t think we have got more complex characters than this in a film that both of us have been cast together. Tiyaan is an intense, deep and complex film. Those are the kind of films that both of us enjoy watching and doing.

What next?

I am going to start Vimaanam first because it has me in two age groups. So I will finish one appearance and then I am going to shoot Adam and then come back to Vimaanam.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 8:11:20 PM |

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