‘I will always be an actor first’ : Prithviraj

Prithviraj in ‘9’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Prithviraj continues to be one of Malayalam’s most sought-after heroes over the last 17 years. He has turned producer and is also set to release his first movie as a director. Director Jenuse Mohamad’s 9 (or Nine), in which he plays the hero, releases next week. He has just completed Lucifer, his directorial debut. After that, he will be seen in Blessy’s Aadujeevitham, followed by Brother’s Day and Driving License. Edited excerpts from an interview with Friday Review.

Which one excites you more, Lucifer or Nine?

I am more involved with Lucifer as I’m directing it. Although Nine is co-produced by Prithviraj Productions, everything is being taken care of by my wife, Supriya. My role is to sign the cheques. I am equally excited about both the films.

What is special about Nine?

I can vouch for the fact that you wouldn’t have seen something like this in Malayalam before. The genre we have attempted, the way it has been shot and the narrative are all new. We are projecting it as a father-son story, that is narrated against the backdrop of a global event. Nine has elements of sci-fi and horror. There is a psychological angle as well.

When did you decide you wanted to become a director?

It has been there for quite a while. I had actually said yes to directing City of God. But at that time, I got a call from Mani sir (director Mani Ratnam) to act in Raavan. I am glad that I didn’t do City of God as Lijo Jose Pellissery made a much better film than I could ever have. Lucifer happened by chance. While we were shooting for Tiyaan, scenarist Murali Gopy pitched a subject with Lal ettan (Mohanlal). Although Murali had asked me if I would like to direct Lucifer, I thought Lal ettan or producer Antony Perumbavoor would dismiss it as the whim of a young actor. But they did offer me the project.

Tells us about the experience?

I enjoyed the shoot for various reasons. It was a well-executed shoot that was completed on time and I give credit to the entire team for that. It’s a big, expensive film. I had a producer who staunchly stood by my vision. I want to make films again. I don’t know if my second film, whenever that happens, will be this memorable. Next, I want to make a bigger film. You will know how big it could be when Lucifer comes out.

What is Lucifer about?

Lucifer has got drama; it has got action. I believe it celebrates Mohanlal, the star and the actor. It has an ensemble cast. The narrative is big in terms of the number of places and characters. It was a tough film to execute.

After wrapping up Lucifer, you have been busy as an actor. How easy or difficult has that transformation been?

I am an actor. That is where I am at home. I want to be known as an actor who produced and directed a few films. Maybe, someday I might not be passionate about making films. But I will always be passionate about acting.

Prithviraj in ‘9’

Prithviraj in ‘9’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Having entered movies so early in life do you ever miss having a normal life?

I do. Anonymity is priceless. You realise that only when you lose it. That is why all my vacations are in remote places where I can do normal things. Like, one of the things Supriya and I enjoy the most is grocery shopping. But every film actor faces this situation. On the other hand, this job gives me so much.

You are all set to join Aadujeevitham, a story that is familiar to Malayalis. Does that make it more challenging?

Those who have read the book have their own versions. This is the vision of one such reader, Blessy, and I hope that the interpretation appeals to all. The idea is to make a global Malayalam film. Only about 20 per cent of the film has dialogues. The rest of the film has just the characters and some animals. Moreover, the protagonist and the Arab guy don’t understand each other.

You are one of the very few actors who speak up on issues without fear. Have you faced any constraints while doing so? Or, have you come under any pressure?

I have never refrained myself from speaking up about something that I have felt was right. Just because I am an actor, I don’t know how much I can stifle that personality of mine. I don’t know whether it has done me good or bad. And nobody has told me to be quiet. I made my voice heard when I thought my opinion should be heard. That’s it.

You are active on social media, even sharing trolls on you?

I understand why actors like me have so many followers on our social media handles. People want to see us and they enjoy reading or seeing titbits about our personal lives. Of course, there is a boundary that no one can cross. I enjoy the trolls about my English usage. I thought that my language was pretty straight forward. Now, to feed the trolls, I should start learning bigger words (laughs).

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:50:27 PM |

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