Prithviraj : I can only ensure the quality of my films

 Prithviraj : I can only ensure the quality of my films


Compared to last year where he had several super hits under his belt, Prithviraj has had a rather quiet 2016 at the box office. However, that’s no measure of the projects that he has in his kitty.

After completing the socio-political drama Tiyaan, the actor left for Malaysia to shoot for his upcoming Bollywood movie Naam Shabana. And now, he is in Portugal busy shooting for Roshni Dinaker’s romcom My Story, while his horror-thrilled titled Ezra will hit theatres soon.

We caught up with the actor recently to get a lowdown to know what goes through his mind during the set-to-set transitions, the extensive schedules abroad and his big budget movies in the offing.

There was a time when you would prepare for a role physically. But now with back-to-back movies, is it just about changing the looks and switching the sets?

I was never an actor who prepared for a role. Physically, yes, but you can hardly call that preparation for a character. As long as I am healthy and my body is under my command, I can continue to do that. Preparing for a role in terms of the mannerisms involved is more about trying to construct a behavioural pattern for the character. It would have you foraying into method acting, which I don’t know how to do. My preparations for films usually involve thorough comprehension of the script. That’s how I have always approached my movies — from the point I am given bound scripts.

I know currently with a lot of movie announcements doing the rounds, it might seem like I am hopping from one set to another. But I don’t. I usually make sure that I have a gap of at least 10 days between films and I use that time to get away from my previous movie.

For Anarkali, you took deep-sea diving lessons to play a diving instructor and for your upcoming movie Vimaanam, we hear you will reportedly be taking flight lessons…
Within the film, the character requires me to fly an ultra-light aircraft. But we don’t know if we would be able to shoot the scenes we want with the aircraft actually flying. As of now, it would entail at least learning the basics of piloting an aircraft.

You would also be doing a Gautham Menon movie…

I said yes to Gautham’s film almost a year ago. It will be in multiple languages — Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. My character in the film is a Malayali. So I will have some lines in Malayalam. It’s basically about four friends. It’s a phase in their lives where they all get together and discover things about themselves and each other. It’s a fun script. It’s co-written by Gautham. He had concerns if I would act in a multi-starrer. But it’s been something that I have wanted to do for a long time. It’s opening up a world of possibilities.

Having four major actors from four South Indian industries in a film opens up a possibility of releasing a movie in 2,500 screens in South India without having a Rajinikanth in it. Plus, the liberty that the filmmaker gets, in terms of the money he can spend and scale at which he can conceive, is huge. I will probably start shooting for that after My Story.

My Story is shot in Portugal and your forthcoming projects such as Detroit Crossing and Adam also will be filmed abroad. Does that put an additional pressure on you?

My film Ivide, which was set in the US, would have cost the same money, maybe just a bit more if we had shot it in India. I have believed that if you can plan properly and have a clear chart that defines your action each day, shooting abroad is not an expensive proposition. The only additional cost you would have to factor in is the travel. We don’t shoot with a typical 150-member unit when we travel abroad. There are a lot of union regulations when we shoot here that eventually translates to a crew having 150 members. When we are away from the regulations, you realise the entire work can be done with a group comprising 35 members


This year you have also tried experimenting with films such as Darwinte Parinamam, which didn’t quite hit the mark…

I know on paper it seems like a typical commercial film. But the idea of this revenge being a quirky take on a person getting each and everything the guy took away from his home was a bit experimental. That’s why I decided to act in the film as I knew that we had to sort of give it as much of glitz and glamour in terms of conception and casting to give it a chance in the box office.

Would you say that content is the only way forward for Mollywood especially now that our movies have to compete with films from other languages too…

We have always been competing with other Bollywood and Hollywood films. As an audience, we have always been cosmopolitan, which is the reason I think the only way we can survive is through content. We can’t ever dream on the level of scale of other industries because we don’t have that kind of a market. We have traditionally competed and won is terms of quality of content. I am glad that we are taking a turn towards that again. Films are being more content-oriented. I also think that the satellite market crashing has done a world of good for us. There aren’t any more projects happening right now but only films.
You also have several big-budget films like Karnan, Velluthampi Dalava and Aadujeevitham. Do these projects come to you because you have become the actor that producers are vying to invest in because there is a guaranteed return?
Let me take this opportunity to let them know that they are grossly mistaken. I cannot ensure guaranteed returns. I can only guarantee the quality of production. I will put my foot down to make sure that my films have quality in terms of execution. I have that much control over my films currently and I will exercise it. Apart from that don’t expect anything. In fact, I should be quite an unsafe actor for producers. Be very wary of me because I love doing experimental stuff. As much as possible, I try to do all those experiments with my money. But sometimes, producers don’t listen to my word and they say they want to do it.

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