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The actor we think we know

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A free-wheeling chat gets Prithviraj candid on the misunderstandings that shroud him and the new workspace for his directorial début, Lucifer

The one thing that actor Prithviraj despises about himself is his anger. Has he tried to curb it?, a reporter asks, and he says in his serious voice, “Only when I felt it wasn’t necessary”. He is at a new apartment he has just bought in Thevara, which would be his workspace mainly for Lucifer, his much talked-about directorial debut. But the problem is, he would not talk about Lucifer at a press meet that was not meant to be about the film. The only thing he would say is that the said apartment would be his workspace. “I felt I needed a space to assemble my team. Do the research and develop the film. This place might well be known as Lucifer’s office in future.”

The trouble with press meets in general is that there are random questions, and the celebrity has to repeat the stuff he or she has already spoken about at length on TV and Twitter and FB. Just as the weariness of it all begins to surface, Prithviraj decides to take a few questions on himself. Seated at the head of the table, in a well-lit room that faces the water, he says, “I like open spaces. Light and air are very important to me in a space.” His answers are quick and totally lack ambiguity.

The actor we think we know
 

Script, the starting point

This is a busy time for him. Tiyan with Indrajith, the teaser of which has raised expectations, is getting ready and then there is Lucifer, which will have Mohanlal in the lead role. Naam Shabana in Hindi has just released. “It is not about the language, when I choose a film. It is the script that attracts me first. The script is the starting point.” Cinema is his most enduring passion; even relaxation revolves around it.

Starting with Nandanam, the actor grew in stature, clearly defining his space and owning it. A hundred odd films later, with a production company and soon a directorial attempt, he says he does not see these as watertight compartments. “It is cinema that I see. I don’t see acting, direction and production as autonomous units. Everything from the audition to the final stages, it is the medium that interests me. I am the kind of person that likes to get involved in the process.”

In previous interviews he has said that he remains detached about the outcome of a film. “It is foolish to believe that you have complete control over a film. There are a whole lot of aspects that are not tangible, when making a film. Things are bound to change and some of them are really not in your control.” However, he is a self-confessed control freak in a different sense. “I sometimes don’t like delegating work. I would like to change that,” he says.

Not image-conscious

Prithviraj’s supposed seriousness is his stock-in-trade. “I haven’t consciously created an image of being unapproachable,” he says. “But if that is my perceived image, I don’t think it is necessary to change myself.” His open denouncement of misogyny in Malayalam cinema got a wave of good press. The actor declared on FB that he regrets being part of films that “celebrated misogyny”. ‘...I have mouthed lines that vilified regard for your self respect and I have taken a bow to the claps that ensued. Never again ... never again will I let disrespect for women be celebrated in my movies!’ (sic) he wrote.

He is a darling of the trollers, often picked at for his prowess in the English language. “I am amused by it. Some of them are funny. But honestly, I don’t think my English is great. I believe my Malayalam is better. I’m sorry if they don’t understand some of my posts. But I write something on FB only when I really want to. And expressing myself, sometimes, comes easier to me in English. Besides, it is really difficult to type in Malayalam.”

Prithviraj calls himself a family man, his family being one of his greatest achievements. If not an actor, what would he have been? “A traveller, perhaps,” he says.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 7:35:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/prithviraj-talks-about-his-directorial-dbut-misunderstandings-that-shroud-him/article17851322.ece

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